Wonder Woman Syndrome: Are You Trying to Do Too Much Since Your Divorce?

woman sitting alone on top of mountain

You’re going to show him. No, you’re going to show the world! You don’t need that ex-husband of yours. Or any husband at all. Maybe you don’t need anyone else for that matter, not even your nagging mother who always tells you she knows better than you do. You’ve got this. And you very well may. For now.

But what many women don’t recognize as their adrenaline begins to pump during the divorce process and the time after their divorces become final is how important it is to pace yourself. Too many times divorced women, especially single moms, take on too much too fast, believing they must. The truth is, it’s often best to do a little less, even if you’ve always juggled a lot, even more than you could handle. Times have changed, girlfriend, and you need to own that. You’re not Wonder Woman. You’re a human being, not a superhero.

Building a solid foundation for your new life and planning for your future requires careful thought and time. To do it right and optimize the likelihood of achieving the goals you set for yourself, whether financial, familial, or romantic, I have five recommendations. Here they are.

1. Prioritize. Now that you’re uncoupled, you likely have had some responsibilities added to your plate. If you’re a parent, those duties can at first feel overwhelming. Even if you’re a parent who shares custody with your ex equally, keep in mind that during the times you’re with your kids, you’re on your own. Still, you will have to manage the rest of your life, including work, household chores, and errands, all while taking care of your children. As you will quickly realize, you won’t be able to do everything and probably not all at once. The best way to accomplish what you need to is by prioritizing your responsibilities. Got a work project due at 9 am the next morning? That’s the night to cook a simple dinner or order in food. Son playing in a playoff game Saturday? Make laundry day Sunday this week. You’ll soon figure out the sun will continue to rise in the morning, even if you didn’t get to everything you wanted that day.

2. Schedule. I know many people who make lists and then never look at them. Or they look at the lists and think they’re too long so avoid consulting them altogether because of the anxiety they bring. Making a list is only half the battle. After you establish your priorities, it’s now time to figure out how and when you will accomplish what you must. That requires making a schedule for yourself. By looking at your day in blocks of time, you will be able to see how much you can realistically get done given the hours you have. Planning your day will prevent you from forgetting what you need to do and, more importantly, put you in a position of control. By setting attainable goals, you will feel calmer.

3. Ask for help. As you establish your priorities and set up your schedule, you will probably conclude that you cannot do it alone. Asking for help is not only okay, but it's also smart. And you don’t always need to look far for that support. Children are capable of much more than we often give them credit. Even young children can pick up after themselves, set the table for dinner, and make their lunch for school. If Grandma is looking to spend time with the kids, let her. Having someone else at home, even if you’re there, can provide you with a much-needed break. Ask friends or people in your community for help. Just make sure to return the favors whenever you can.

4. Cut yourself some slack. This concept is essential, so pay attention. Despite doing all of the above, you still may not be able to accomplish everything you set out to or, if you can, not as quickly as you used to before your divorce. That’s okay. Times are different now. Whether you’re still adjusting to the emotional stress of it all, or your circumstances changed, remind yourself that your best is good enough. You know why? It has to be. The only one judging you is yourself and being your own worst critic is not a job you should ever aspire to have. Guaranteed, you’re doing better than you think. The challenge you have now is to see it.

5. Take care of yourself. None of it will matter if you don’t have your health. Not how clean your house is, not how well you’re performing at work, and not whether your kids washed behind their ears last night. Take time for you and you alone. As you prioritize and establish your schedule, set aside at least an hour each day to do what you love. See your friends, go to the beach, meditate, read, whatever. Keep in mind, slow and steady wins the race. And you’re a winner. Breathe deep, be kind to yourself, laugh, and live your life. It’s yours so you might as well enjoy it.