Why do you need to set goals for your divorce?

divorce-goals

Goalsetting is a critical component of having a successful divorce. Setting appropriate goals, even in the middle of your divorce, helps you identify where you are, versus where you would like to be. It gives you an excellent means to realistically evaluate both your present and future, and take the first few steps (be they hesitant or enthusiastic) towards your own success.

How do you go about setting the divorce goals that will lead you toward a successful future as a single individual? Every decision you make regarding your divorce should be made with your goals in mind. As such, it is important to ensure that you know the best guidelines for setting realistic goals for yourself. The following three guidelines will give the building blocks for setting the best goals for your own future.

1. Decide what you want out of life.

Do not allow yourself to get swept up in the minutiae of daily responsibilities, or get to the finish line as quickly as possible. Instead, keep your mind focused on what you want your future to actually look like. While it may seem nearly impossible in the midst of your emotional turmoil, take time to step back from the stress and envision your ideal future.

You should consider each aspect of your life, and take time to consider these kinds of questions:

  • What type of custody arrangement do you want with your spouse?
  • What type of financial supports or arrangements will you need to make, in order to achieve a comfortable lifestyle for yourself and your children?  
  • How much of your joint debt can you afford to assume? How much are you willing to help pay as the future moves forward?
  • What will retirement and investment savings look like as a newly single individual?
     
    Ultimately, you want to consider the real question at hand as you set goals for yourself: If you could live your life in any way that you choose, what would it look like in light of your pending divorce? Deciding what is important to you now can help you begin crafting that life on your own.

2. Create actionable steps for your goals.

Once you decide exactly what you are hoping to achieve, it is time to start putting actual steps in place to reach success. Select a few actionable steps that would allow you to measure progress towards your goals. They could be relatively simple things, or long-term plans broken into several steps. They could be things such as obtaining a job or a better-paying position, setting a stricter budget, reevaluating your retirement savings, or doing something fun with your children over the weekend. Putting a few steps in place (no matter how basic they may seem) gives you the ability to work toward your goals without feeling defeated during the process.

Experts recommend making goals using the SMART acronym; each goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Each step that you put in place should correspond to all five of those categories in order to move you that much closer to your overarching goal for long-term success and stability.

In particular, consider setting a deadline on your specific goals, which will force you to act on your progress within a set period of time. This plan is designed to motivate you to achieve progress faster than you may otherwise be able to.

3. Have some flexibility in your goals.

Understand that sometimes things do not work out the way you plan for them to. Be willing to maintain some flexibility within your plan if things go amiss. Many individuals will want to set a few overarching goals that they would like to achieve within their divorce, and acknowledge that there may be multiple ways to achieve the same outcome. The goals may look different in your day-to-day life than you imagined, so your flexibility can come into play.

You may also want to be flexible about the fact that the goals and steps you set for yourself and your family could be more time-consuming than you originally anticipated. Therefore, be patient with the process while you continue to set measurable, attainable steps toward the goals you set for yourself.

Summary

Setting goals for yourself is crucial to helping you determine which decisions within your divorce are in your best interests for the future. Each decision you and your spouse make regarding your split will have some repercussions for your future as an individual. Your goals can help keep you focus on the bigger picture, instead of getting caught up in the details.

Keep an open mind in both your approach to each goal and the results that you achieve along the way. You may find that your goals shift as you get further into the divorce process and begin to get a better outlook at what single life will look like for you. Revising goals that no longer serve you well is acceptable, and you will want to be flexible and open to this possibility.

Goalsetting can certainly be a stressful process, which forces you to consider where you currently are, compared to where you would like to be. However, with Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely goals in place, you can move toward your future in confidence, apart from your spouse.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.