Self

5 Ways To Get Your Life Together After Divorce (When It Feels Like Everything Is A Mess)

Photo: stockfour / shutterstock.com 
red-haired woman laughing

One of the biggest challenges after divorce is figuring out how to get your life back on track.

Is the life that you once led, the one that you knew so well, suddenly gone and you have no idea what to do next?

Know that it can be done, and you have the power to do so. 

Getting divorced can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to be life-ending. You can and will survive divorce, but you need to take it day by day, one step at a time, so that you don't get overwhelmed.

The first step towards living the life you want is learning how to get your life in order after divorce.

If you can lay a good foundation for your new life, then you can then re-build and create the life you want.

RELATED: 9 Divorce Myths You Need To Ignore (And What To Do Instead)

Here are five key ways to get your life together after divorce

Even though your divorce is final, it is very important that you can easily access all of the paperwork from that process.

To that end, it is essential that you create a filing system that you can manage. Keep your final divorce agreement, name change document, and any other documents that you have related to your divorce in a designated place.

Your divorce might be final, but there are plenty of times over the next few years that you might need to refer to the paperwork.

For example, you may need the documents if you are applying for a mortgage, filing your taxes, or changing your credit card account information. If you're unable to provide the information, it may hinder your ability to move forward with your new life.

I have been divorced for 6 years, but still find that I need my paperwork. This past Christmas, I accidentally bought airplane tickets in my married name. I discovered the error the night before we traveled and, in order to change the name on the ticket, I had to provide the official name change documentation.

Thank goodness I had it right in my file drawer so that I could send it to the airline. It still took me 5 hours on hold with the airlines to get the name changed but get it changed I did!

So, keep all of the paperwork related to your divorce in a place you won’t forget and have easy access to.

RELATED: Yes, You Can Find Happiness After Divorce — But Only After You Accept These 4 Truths

2. Organize your finances.

Most divorces lead to some sort of disruption or separation of finances. It is vital to make sure you have a clear understanding of what your finances look like after divorce.

The first step needs to be reviewing all financial documentation that you have — bank accounts, mortgage accounts, credit card accounts, brokerage accounts, trusts, IRAs, etc. Make sure that you know of all your assets, both liquid and fixed.

Next, pull together an accounting of your expenses — your mortgage, car payments, tuition payments, grocery expenses, kids' after school costs, etc. Whatever you spend money on needs to be accounted for.

Once you have all of your assets and expenses pulled together, then it’s time to make a financial plan for your future.

Finally, use all of that information to determine how much money you can spend, what you can put away, and what needs adjustment to fit your future.

If your financial documents are all Greek to you, as they were to me, then spend the money and hire a good financial manager who can help you figure out what your money situation is.

A thorough understanding of your financial picture will help you feel safe and secure.

RELATED: 3 Big Reasons Divorce Is More Stressful On Men Than Women

3. Identify where you will need help.

When I got divorced, one of the biggest losses for me was that I no longer had someone living with me who knew how to work power tools, trouble shoot computers and manage our taxes.

For 20 years, I had relied on my husband to fix things around the house, deal with technology when things went awry, and manage the taxes each year. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons that I didn’t want a divorce was because I didn’t want to deal with doing those things. Suddenly, I was alone and I had to figure out how to deal with things that I had no idea how to manage.

So, what did I do? I learned how to use some basic tools on my own. But. more importantly, I found a handyman in town who I could rely on to come help me if I needed help. 

As for technology, I learned that there was a YouTube video for just about everything that I needed to learn on my own. 

Finally, what worried me most were taxes. I hired a tax guy. Every year, in January, he sends me a worksheet of things that I need to pull together so that he can do my taxes for me in April. It costs me some money, but it is totally worth it for my piece of mind, knowing that my taxes are done properly.

So, take an inventory of what you will need to do around your house and figure out what you can do to get those things done. You can either set out to learn how to do them yourself or hire someone to do them for you.

Conquering a drill or a clogged pipe will make you feel damn good and will make you believe that you truly can get your life together after a divorce.

RELATED: 6 Little Known Benefits Of Getting A Divorce

4. Start exploring.

So, for however many years, you have a been a wife, and maybe a mother. And, I am guessing that in that period of time your life may have become rather small in comparison to your family.

When we are single, the sky is the limit as far as what we can do with our life. We can move across country, travel the world, change jobs when we feel like it, sleep in on Saturday or wake up at the crack of dawn for a run.

Whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it.

Married life is different. When we are married, our lives join with our spouse's and the things we do naturally become aligned. As a result, our world can narrow.

If you want to move across country but your spouse doesn’t, you probably won’t. What you have for dinner, where you travel, and what time you wake up, are all delicately navigated areas. Each situation requires couples to work together to make sure that everyone is satisfied.

As we settle into relationships, we establish routines that establish how and where our time is spent. Maybe it’s Friday night Pad Thai, binging some show on Saturday, softball on Tuesday evenings, and Thanksgiving with his folks. Habits.

Habits are not a bad thing, rather a comfortable part of being in a couple. But, now that you aren’t in one, you can do whatever the hell you want!

So, what do you want to do now that you are single?

When I got divorced I explored things large and small. I conquered driving in a snow storm and riding a jet ski. I learned out to use a drill. I bought flannel sheets for my bed. I moved to NYC. I hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and to the top of Macchu Pichu.

And I had fun!

I am in a relationship now and my life has gotten smaller again (which is not a bad thing) but I am glad that I had those years of doing what I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to.

RELATED: 8 Smart Ways To Build Self-Esteem After Divorce

5. Create a support system.

The key to starting anew after divorce is your support system. 

When we are married, we tend to focus on our nuclear family. Now that you are divorced, you will find that that the other person who was in bed with you in the morning and at the dinner table at night is gone. It will be just you and the kids or, even worse, just you.

Make sure that you have people around you that you are able to call on. Do you have friends and family you can trust and depend on? Do you have a therapist or life coach who understands you and can help you manage your emotions? Are you involved in activities with people you enjoy being with? 

If the answer to any or all of the questions above is no, then it’s time to get out there and curate yourself a support system.

Getting started with Act II of your life will be very hard, and doing it alone will make it almost impossible. So, pick up the phone and call some friends or family, make sure you see your therapist regularly, get out of the house and try new things and do things every day that make you feel good about yourself.

RELATED: 9 Things To Say When Someone Asks, 'Why Did You Get Divorced?'

Trying to figure out how to get your life together after divorce is very brave. And very smart.

Those of us who find ourselves newly divorced have entered new, uncomfortable territory that we have no idea how to manage. Knowing the first steps is a great start to getting it all under control.

Being divorced doesn’t have to be the end of the world. I am here to tell you that ten years later, I am so much happier with myself and my place in the world than I was when I was married.

I do look back at who I was ten years ago and wished that I knew how to better navigate the first year after divorce. If I knew more, I might have skipped over some of the growing pains I experienced out in the new world.

So, get yourself together. Spend the neccessary time and money to get things in order so that you can go forward, living your best life. It will bring you much needed peace knowing that you have it all (well, most of it at least) under control.

You can do this. I promise.

RELATED: Women Who End Up Happier After A Breakup Never Skip This 'Golden' Healing Step

Mitzi Bockmann is a certified life and relationship coach. She has over 10 years of experience in helping people find happiness in life and love.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!

This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.