New Year’s resolutions rarely pan out. I mean, most of us make them, sometimes a lot of them, and then by the end of January we fizzle out. The new year just seems like a clean page and a good time to make changes—and it is. In my experience, the trick to making those changes is to focus on just one resolution area. I think most of the time we make a random list of the two million things we want to accomplish, and then real life kicks in and we realize we were too ambitious.
For the sake of focused, organized resolution-keeping, I've created this list of twelve steps (delivered in two parts) that will help you complete one major resolution: rebuilding your confidence after divorce. I picked twelve steps so you could focus on one task a month. And since all of them build towards your main goal, you'll be able to see results every month.
Confidence is always important, and after a divorce it is pretty well shattered for most of us. Getting it back means gaining the ability to move on, heal more quickly, and become whole again. Plus, if you ever want to consider another relationship, you’re going to need all the confidence you can get. Stop waiting for change—go out and grab it yourself.
Remember, plan on working on just one step a month, so you're regaining your confidence one step at a time. I have outlined the first six steps below. Ready...set...go!
Step One: Eat Better and Enjoy It More
This is big for me. I am a food writer. I’ve got numerous (as in 10+) cookbooks under my belt—some written under my own name, some ghost-written. People think that I create luxurious meals and sit down with a glass of wine every night to enjoy them.
The wine part is right.
In truth, I have a tendency to be a grab-and-go eater. I may be working on an assignment and I’ll grab a chunk of cheese or a slice of deli meat. If there are cookies sitting on the counter I’ll grab one or two, or ten.
Most of the time I am not enjoying my food, nor am I eating a meal. I am grabbing the easiest thing available and eating just enough to stop myself from being hungry.
What does that have to do with confidence? Well, for one, when we eat healthily we feel better and generally look better. Sitting down to an actual meal, with knives and forks, on a prettily arranged plate is an added boost. I’d do it for my family, right?
Do whatever it takes to nurture yourself at the table. Make your favorite foods—even if you are the only one who likes them. I didn’t eat spinach for decades because I was the only one who liked it. Now, I make it and eat ALL of it. Create a positive atmosphere, even if it’s just you eating alone. Put on some music, set the table, and put the work away for a while. Pour that glass of wine. Relax.
Step Two: Exercise
I try to get to the gym five mornings a week. I know that if I go and work out I will feel a lot better. Ever since my thyroid was removed, it's been a challenge to maintain, let alone build, muscle. But you know what? I am doing it! It’s taken forever, but after ten months I am finally beginning to see results.
Sometimes I get up and I don’t have an extra 90 minutes in my day to go to the gym. On those days, I have an alternate plan that takes just half the time I spend at the gym. It’s my commitment to myself.
My mistake in the past was trying to fit gym time into my existing schedule. I’ve learned to make gym time part of my schedule, just as if it were a conference with a client.
Step Three: Get Pretty Lingerie
Most married women, especially those in struggling marriages, are wearing bras that are pieced together with safety pins and panties with no elastic. Or, maybe we’re wearing practical underwear—you know what I am talking about.
This necessitates the third step in building your post-divorce confidence: get yourself some lingerie. And by some, I mean at least a week’s worth. Buy things that are pretty—that make you feel valuable and sexy when you wear them. It doesn’t matter that no one else will know you're wearing them under your gray sweats. You’ll know. From this point forward, only wear bras with safely concealed underwire and intact lining. Plus, don’t forget pretty.
Step Four: Get Your Hair Done
Actually, getting my hair done may have contributed to the divorce, now that I think of it. For decades, I did my own trims and coloring because we couldn’t afford salon appointments. Meanwhile, the ex could afford all kinds of things. One day I had enough of that junk and made an appointment to get my hair done. Things went downhill from there in my marriage, but my hair looked incredible!
Having someone else wash my hair is a luxury that makes me purr. Sometimes my current husband washes my hair for me, and it always feels like the highest level of pampering.
Anyway, go get your hair done and choose a different look (if you’ve had the same hairstyle for a very long time). Change it up so that you, and the people in your life, can see you in a whole new way as you start the next chapter.
Step Five: Nurture Yourself (with Mani-Pedis)
Getting your nails done can totally turn your day around. This is another thing I never did until shortly before the divorce, and I am sorry I waited so long. They can be expensive, but usually you can find a place that offers mani-pedis at an affordable rate. Even if you can only afford to do it once a month, do it. It’s totally relaxing. After all, you can’t do a thing with your hands immobilized in the cuticle softener and your feet in a tub of hot water, right?
Something that happens when we are in a bad marriage or get divorced is that we stop being touched. Being touched is one of those things that everyone needs, no matter how old they are. It’s very good for our sense of well-being and confidence. A massage is a great way to get that touch that you need. But let’s face it, most of the time a massage is not in the budget—especially not in the first few months after the divorce. Getting your hair or nails done can get you that touch that you need for significantly less money if you're in a pinch.
A chair massage works, too.
Step Six: Update Your Makeup
How you do this is up to you. I went to a makeup counter at a high-end department store and ended up looking like a vision-impaired clown with the shakes.
I read an article once that stated that most women wear their makeup the same way they did in high school for the rest of their lives. I didn’t believe it until I happened to look at some old high school photos and then into the mirror.
Wearing your makeup the same way throughout the years can make you look older and kind of dated. Styles of makeup, as well as colors, change rapidly. One year it’s red lips and pale cheeks and the next year it’s pale lips and dark eyes. It can be hard to keep up.
There are thousands of makeup tutorials on the internet if you don’t want to go to a professional. Look to see what the trendy colors for the season are and pick up a few items. Then spend an afternoon with your computer, your makeup, and a mirror. Adding wine and a really good friend makes it even better.
Don’t try to look 18 again, but don’t be afraid to try something new either.
What Do You Think?
This is a start. We’ll talk about six more steps to building your post-divorce confidence in part two. Meanwhile, what do you think? Have you tried any of these things in the past? Or are you already doing some of them? Has it helped to boost your confidence?
Having a good support network is another great way to build confidence. Join First Wives World for the kind of support you need to move on in your life after divorce.
Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons, User : Sascha Kohlmann