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Maintaining a Growth Mindset at Work During Crisis

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.

Henry Ford

We’ve already mentioned that productivity at work generally decreases during divorce, but this doesn’t have to be the case. The key is compartmentalization. Your workspace can actually function as a safe haven from the emotional turmoil of your divorce, if you are able to leave your personal life at the door. This might seem impossible, but, with a little structure and planning, your career can be a welcome escape that gives you purpose and builds self confidence when you’re feeling lost. 

There are important financial reasons to remain productive as well. Most likely, both parties will be poorer after a divorce, so the need to grow your career and make more money can be an effective motivator to keep growing your career. 

Stay Organized 

Your divorce will take a lot of time and emotional energy. So, you need to build time into your day to handle divorce-related issues and stressors. Take some time before the workweek begins, on Sunday, to create two lists: To-Dos for your divorce and To-Dos for work, and add reasonable completion dates for each task. You can set aside an hour each work day to handle divorce-related matters that might have to be done during work hours, but stick to it. Don’t let emails to your lawyer or spouse creep in all day long. 

You might consider creating a very detailed calendar for your day, either in a traditional paper planner or in a tool like Google Calendar, where you can designate a time for each task that needs to be done. This may seem like a lot of effort, but it will bring a sense of relief when you know you have a game plan for each day. 

Take Breaks

One strategy for maintaining  productivity and focus is working in short, concentrated bursts. One example is the Pomodoro Technique created by Francesco Cirillo, a business consultant. Cirillo recommends that you work for 25 minutes. Take a short five-minute break. And continue in 25-minute increments. Once you’ve completed four, take a longer 15-20 minute break. It’s also a good idea to place your phone on “do not disturb” during these working periods. You can use the timer on the phone or choose from a variety of apps based on this technique.

Use your free time for research and training

Without a partner or children for part of the week, you’ll probably have a lot more free time. You can use this extra time to research new companies and careers and even do some online training or education. Ivy League Universities like Harvard and Yale offer free online courses on a variety of subjects. YouTube is also an amazing resource if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about a favorite hobby like photography or interior design. Who knows? You might be able to transform your hobby into an additional source of income. 

Think big

Divorce is the ultimate disrupter. When you walk through the fire and survive, risks and obstacles no longer faze you like before. A divorce might cause you to reassess your whole life and what you want to do with the rest of it. So, use this opportunity to revisit old dreams and desires and reimagine your life through the lens of a single person who is wholly responsible for your own decisions. What options do you have now that you might not have had before? 

Schedule time with your boss or trusted mentor

Don’t try to do it alone. When you’re feeling ready, talk to your boss about career advancement and where you want to go. This is your opportunity to show him/her your commitment to your job and map out an action plan that can take you to the next level. If you’re a business owner or independent contractor, meet with a trusted mentor or career coach to devise a strategy to develop your business. 


You can’t change everything in your life at once. Although it’s constructive to make plans and set goals, it’s also important to take it day by day and give yourself the space and time you need to rest and take care of yourself. If you need to take a few days off, do it. If you need to cut down on work for a period of time, discuss it with your boss. But, use your down time to reconnect with yourself, to do some self-discovery about what you want your career to look like. So, that when you return to the office, you’re ready to get to work. 


Do some journaling about where you want to be in five years: Where do you want to live? Where do you want to work? Who do you want to be with? What does an average week look like? How much money do you want to make? Where do you want to take vacations? Visualize a life that would make you happy, if money were no obstacle. If you’re still unsure, check out some of these books about finding your purpose and passion:

  • Find Your Why by Simon Senek (based on his wildly popular 2009 Ted Talk
  • Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck 
  • Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau

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