Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with saying “Life is a journey, not a destination.” It is safe to say that nobody’s planned destination when they get married is to thereafter get divorced. For whatever the reason this is where the path has led. I read an article recently on goal setting which mentioned that we become different people from the moment we first set our goal to that moment when we reach it. We learn new things along the way, develop new and different interests, and we are ever evolving as we go. For these reasons our goals in life should regularly be reviewed to assure that as we continue our journey through life, that we are heading in what remains the right direction. This week’s blog takes a break from the legal issues we have been tackling and explores adjusting our mindsets to embrace what comes after divorce. To do so I delve a little more deeply into this notion of life being a journey and not a destination.
Importance of the Journey. I think the point of the quote is that if we get too caught up in where we are going we forget to enjoy where we are. When I went to college it was a prerequisite for me to get to law school and when I went to law school it was a prerequisite for me to become a lawyer. I was often going through the motions and jumping through the hoops to get to the end. Don’t get me wrong. I lived life along the way, had fun, developed relationships, learned, etc. but maybe I lost something by having too much focus on the end goal of becoming an attorney. Being present in what we are doing each day can get lost when we are spending too much time looking ahead and planning for the future.
Importance of the Destination. On the other hand, for there to be a journey, there needs to be a destination. The destination allows us to consult our compass, chart our course and begin our journey in a meaningful direction toward where we want to be. If I didn’t take the time to figure out that I wanted to be an attorney I would not have been able to put together a plan to accomplish the things needed to become one. I don’t think the statement that life is a journey and not a destination means you should ignore planning for where you want to go. Instead, you should plan the destination then get back to living the life that is moving you toward where you want to end up.
Revisiting Goals. I am one of those people that makes New Year’s Resolutions each year and tries to stay organized and focused so that I might accomplish them. I am writing this in October and checking in on my progress toward this year’s resolutions, I see that it is a mixed bag. I have gotten up each morning at 5:00 a.m. to do my creative writing which I committed to doing. I have posted a blog each week this year, also a goal. I am well into writing a workbook that I have committed to publishing by the end of the year. There are also items on my list that I have been less than successful with. My guitar gently weeps having been played much less than I had committed to. I am supposed to run a competitive sub 45 minute 10k by the end of the year, and I am still very early in my training for it so the current outlook on this one is grim. I have chosen my goals because I think they will help me continue with life in the direction I want to be moving. If I don’t manage to run the 10k and my guitar maintains its cobwebs, life moves on and I can continue to assess if these are things I want to continue to strive for, or if I want to chart a new direction. Life is our successes and our failures, but mostly it is what comes after them as life is an ongoing journey until it ends.
Endings and Beginnings. So what does all this have to do with divorce? Divorce is an arrival at an uncharted end destination. It is a challenging and difficult time, requiring couples to manage their feelings about the ending of their relationship, while also having to make wise and thoughtful decisions regarding the business that must be completed. It is also a beginning and hopefully the work of the divorce keeps an eye toward assuring that both spouses are able to move forward in a healthy way toward the next chapter. It may feel too early to think about the future, but starting to chart your path forward and reconsider your end destination is included in the important work to be done. When there is adversity in our lives our options are to accept defeat, or to grow from the experience. Life is a journey of peaks and valleys, smooth sailing and stormy seas. Every step of the way we have the option to reconsider our destination, and re-chart our path to get there. Divorce should be a time of mourning what is lost, but also a time of embracing and preparing for what lies ahead.