The world doesn't stop just because you're in the middle of divorce, right? But it feels like it, and you may just want to be left alone to recover your sanity.
In this Modern Divorce episode, host Billie Tarascio talks with Divorce Coach Karen Mahon about how to keep going, keep working, and stay at the top of your game during the divorce process. Karen advises high level executives how to maintain their career and their edge during what may be the roughest personal episode of a lifetime.
But there's hope, says Karen, and she shares her steps to reach the mindset that can make all the difference. To find Karen Mahon online, check out her website, and listen in on her podcasts specializing in high conflict divorces.
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[00:00:07] Billie Tarascio: we don't believe in a one size fits all solution, and we understand that some clients need full representation using every tool in the legal toolbox. This is especially true for custody and alcohol cases, which is why Soberlink has been one of the most important tools for my client.
Soberlink Remote alcohol monitoring tool has helped over 500,000 people prove their sobriety with peace and mind during their parenting Time to begin receiving real time alerts that your child is safe. And to receive $50 off your device, visit soberlink.com/modern. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Modern Divorce podcast.
Today I am joined by Divorce expert Karen Mahone, who is the owner of Journey Beyond Divorce. We're gonna talk today about how high level C-suite executives and other high performers can keep their heads on straight, stay focused, and, [00:01:00] and keep up that performance even when going through a Divorce. Karen, welcome to the show.
[00:01:04] Karen Mahon: Thanks so much for having me on, Billie, I'm excited to be here.
[00:01:08] Billie Tarascio: Yeah, it's great to see you again. So can you tell everyone a little bit about your background and what brought you into this profession?
[00:01:16] Karen Mahon: Yeah, thank you so much. Yeah, my own, uh, actually high conflict Divorce, which, uh, went from 2002 to 2006. Um, and uh, and.
You know, was both hellacious and, um, brilliantly growth oriented all at once. Mm-hmm. And so my children were very young, just barely in grade school. And uh, and we had a lot of, all the turbulence that comes with high conflict and. Thankfully, I found a 12 step program early on, and you know, for those who know 12 steps, the, the most popular tenant is keep the focus on yourself, keep your side of the street clean.[00:02:00]
And, uh, that served me really well because it was really easy to see all the garbage on the other side of the street and wanna say and do. But, um, keeping the focus on myself, I felt like when I emerged, I was a. A more emotionally and spiritually mature version of myself. I was a more confident mom. I had a calm and peace that I don't think I ever had in my life previously.
And, uh, and then what I was doing at the time felt very flat. It, um, I was, I was in sales, I was selling commercial printing, and I thought, well, There has to be something more important for me to do than sell ink on paper. Mm-hmm. Uh, so what am I supposed to do with this transformation that I have here?
And I slowly found my way to coaching and Divorce coaching was a no-brainer. Coaching is all about transition. Um, Divorce is one of the most upending transitions. And so back in [00:03:00] 2010, I went through a coaching program, started Journey Beyond Divorce, and um, and have had the. The joy and um, appreciation to support people for the last 12 years.
[00:03:16] Billie Tarascio: I love that. That was beautiful. And cause it is. It is. So, it is such a traumatic transition and you're going through the fire and you can either come out refined or haggard. And I do think so much of that comes down to are you accepting. These challenges, these growth opportunities?
[00:03:39] Karen Mahon: Yeah. Or, and are you able to see the opportunity?
I think that for so many of us, it's like, no, no, this is bad, this is wrong, this is terrible. And it's like, it is bad. It's wrong and it's terrible. And, um, are you willing to look for, you know, the treasurer hidden in all of it, right?
[00:03:59] Billie Tarascio: [00:04:00] Absolutely. So for, um, C-Suite executives, top performers, entrepreneurs. It can be really well for everyone.
It's upending and it's very difficult, I think, to stay focused and you lose, you know, your mind is in, it's working on so many problems at once. It can be very difficult to stay focused. So how do you coach executives and other top performers to stay focused at work when they are trying to rebuild their entire life at the same time?
[00:04:35] Karen Mahon: Yeah, and it's such an important question to ask, especially when you have that level of responsibility. You own your own company or you're running or managing big chunks of business for another, for a bigger company. And the first thing is, uh, Uh, you have to be realistic. And so regardless of, uh, what a type A person you are and how successful you've been and what you're able to do, [00:05:00] what's colliding is your business acumen and, um, and your, uh, Challenges in intimate relationship.
And for many of us, we can be out in the world and be utter rock stars. Um, but intimate relationships can be more difficult. And so when you're divorcing, that's the case. And so what happens is if you're expecting to operate on the same type A level, you're, you're, you're gonna set yourself up for some trouble.
And there's a lot of things we talk to people about. One is just understand what's going on. You started saying it so well. I, I say it's like you have this enormous database that's downloading in your head, right? All of those years of what was and what should have been, and regrets and guilt and anger and hurt and fear and all that fear of the future.
And am I gonna see my kids? Am I gonna have money? Am I gonna live in a decent place? And so all of that is going on. So if you've ever [00:06:00] downloaded a huge database onto your computer, it's like all of your programs start glitching out. Everything's spinning, nothing's actually connecting, nothing's moving quickly.
And if we could imagine that as we enter Divorce that's going on, set your schedule and set yourself up to be successful by. Um, ing what you hope to accomplish during the season? I would say I've never met anyone who has said to me I was at the top of my game and I just rocked it through my Divorce. I.
That's not what happens. And so you either set yourself up for failure by saying, not only am I gonna deal with this emotionally tumultuous situation at home, but I'm gonna expect the same level of, um, activity and effectiveness and efficiency at work, and that that's not terribly realistic. [00:07:00] So, so that's like the bitter truth is you have to be realistic.
And then within that, one of the interesting things is, um, people who choose to keep it to themselves. I'm, I'm not gonna tell, tell the owner of the company, I'm not gonna tell, you know, my, my supervisor, I'm not, I'm, I'm gonna be totally quiet about it. We're all human beings and so there may be people who aren't safe to tell, but to be able to find the people who are safe to tell so that in your workspace somebody is understanding, somebody gets it, somebody has your back, can support, you, can bridge the gap for you when you isolate yourself.
Um, it's very dangerous because then there's gonna be a lot of interpretations about. Your capability That's not real because they don't understand the pressure.
[00:07:53] Billie Tarascio: I, I agree with you. Everything you're saying resonates with my own personal experience. When I started going through [00:08:00] my own Divorce, I could not do Divorce consultations anymore.
I. I could not, I could not sit and listen to other people tell me about their home life. I, I, I, you know, I either saw them as me or as my, you know, now ex-husband. Like, it just was, it was like that, that had to go. And so there might be certain aspects of your job. I, I know I'm in a unique situation because I'm a Divorce attorney, but nevertheless, um, There might be certain aspects of your job that you just need to pause.
I now can go back and do Divorce consultations, no problem. I just needed to take a break. And, and, and also as a boss who has had employees going through Divorce or going through other things, we are very, um, forgiving of moments and seasons. But if we are not interpreting what's happening with you as a moment or a season, and instead we're interpreting it as your new, your new norm.
Um, it's a completely different experience from my boss's position. [00:09:00]
[00:09:00] Karen Mahon: Exactly. Exactly. And so then it's misinterpreted and so now you've actually added to your problems. Yes. And what we really wanna do is help you narrow those down. And for me too, I was in sales, I was selling commercial printing. I actually was at the height of my sales career.
I had more clients. I was bringing in more business than ever before. And, um, mine was. Three and a half years an emotional mess, and I lost 80% of my clients and that ability to put on my happy face and go out there and be this like really service oriented, high energy individual when I was beaten and battered in so many different ways emotionally and mentally.
Um, it, it wasn't gonna happen. And now, um, being in a position of coaching a lot of executives and entrepreneurs helping them, helping an individual set themselves up for reasonable success through [00:10:00] the Divorce, um, is, is vi it's a vital piece. You don't need that much more to worry about. Um, So I think that, that having a, a support, you know, we talk about support teams, right?
People always think, well, I'm gonna hire a matrimonial attorney. Well, you also want a therapist or a Divorce coach. You probably want a financial person unless you're super schooled in that. But then let's look at, um, support within your business, support within your social circle. And so, We need a lot of support because it's such an overwhelming shifting, turning, turbulent time of life.
It is, it is.
[00:10:42] Billie Tarascio: And not just for you, but for your children who are gonna need more support than they did before for your extended family who's going to be processing your Divorce in their own way, right? For your friendships. That are changing. So I wasn't sure what you were going to say [00:11:00] about how top performers could continue to stay top performers, because what you're saying resonates with my experience, I couldn't, I needed to bring down the expectations, not let anything fall apart.
But that was the standard, the standard became, right. How do, how do I keep everything? How do I not miss anything? How do I not make any huge errors? Not how do I push us to the next level or become my best self professionally,
[00:11:27] Karen Mahon: right? Not, not the season for that. Um, not the season. And, and then the other thing, I just finished the series on Divorce and the family business, and so I was interviewing, uh, Ryan, he's got this interesting, I think Greek name, kaki, um, I'm gonna give it to you.
So anyway, he primarily represents the c e o, the business owner. And one of the things that he said, which really resonated with my experience is, um, [00:12:00] They have to trust me. So here I am. He says, representing the guy or the gal who's always the boss, always makes the decisions, always solves the problems, always figures it out.
Always delegates their word is the last word. Yes. Well, if you are going to continue to run your business or your department and go through a Divorce, you need to hire and then rely on the experts instead of making it. Another project for yourself. So that's another area where as those higher performers, you might always be the boss in everything.
And yet, if you could hire someone that you truly trust and then let go of the reins, let them run the Divorce project, you pop in when you need, right? Um, that's gonna really save a lot of your emotional and mental energy to be more successful. Um, at work.
[00:12:58] Billie Tarascio: I totally agree. [00:13:00] And for our top performers, you, it's difficult to understand how to compartmentalize your Divorce, but there's the legal aspect which really can be compartmentalized.
Yeah. Our job as, as Divorce attorneys, Is to get a good legal
[00:13:21] Karen Mahon: result on
[00:13:22] Billie Tarascio: big picture things. Big picture, parenting time, custody, you know, alimony, property division. We can, if you let us run that really well without knowing about most of your day-to-day details, but many people don't have somebody else.
That they can compartmentalize the day-to-day details with. And so they do that with their lawyer as opposed to someone like you who's a coach. Right? Right. So as our top performers, if they can think about like the legal aspect, find a lawyer you really trust, hand off the legal stuff, [00:14:00] compartmentalize your business, and then find somebody like a Divorce coach for the day-to-day, where do I live?
What do I, how do I support my kids? All those
[00:14:10] Karen Mahon: things. Right? And, and that was gonna be my last piece is so, so if you've hired your attorney, you, you trust the attorney, you're, you're really allowing them to, to project manage that piece of it. You've created enough support within your business so that people know that you're not at the top of your game, but they've got your back.
Then the other piece is, Um, the mental and emotional overwhelm. And so, as you know, as coaches, unlike therapists, we're really we're there to help you strategically get through your day-to-day, week-to-week conflict and chaos within the Divorce. And so it's just there, you're, you're heading toward di Divorce, so whether or not you're a high conflict situation or a garden variety situation, there's [00:15:00] conflict.
Mm-hmm. And then, If we look at what's involved, it's like children and money. Okay? Two of the biggest triggers. Any of us are gonna be dealing with. And so how are you thinking about it? And so often we'll have clients who come to us and they have nightmare stories, right? They have already painted the nightmare of the future where their spouse takes them for all their worth, or they never get to see their kids, or they're lonely for the rest of their lives.
Or, you know, the judge and the attorney are against me too, like all of this mental chatter. That again, as you're listening to me, it diminishes your energy to deal with what's before you. And here you are running your business and, um, negotiating the most important decisions about your future, your financial and your parenting future.
You can't afford to be going down all these rabbit holes and be [00:16:00] dealing with this kind of constant mental chatter. When you hire a coach, you have someone who can help you learn to notice when you're going down the rabbit holes to challenge. How important is that? Is that really a possibility? What's another possibility?
All of the things that walk you off the ledge and help you get back to your emotional center. And mental clarity, right? So for us, we want you to be calm, clear, and confident. Those are our three. It's like if you are calm, if in the midst of the chaos you can be centered and focused and present, that's calm, um, clear, right?
So once you cut through all the chatter, What's actually happening? What's the decision? I have to talk to my attorney about what's the next step? I don't need to know the next 10 steps. I just need to know the next step. And then confident. Okay, so now I've got the ground under my feet. I can, I can partner with my [00:17:00] attorney effectively.
I can run my business effectively and I can trust that I'm doing the best by my family Now. Um, now you are set up. To go through what is still a tsunami or a tornado, but you are all, uh, supported. You're in a safe container to do it.
[00:17:21] Billie Tarascio: I love that. I love that. And I think once again, like the expectation needs to be, I know this is gonna be a challenging season, but as a top performer, you've had these before.
Yes. You don't get to where you're at right now without already having tackled major challenges, whether they were educationally or, you know, passing a very, very hard exam or starting up a business with all that uncertainty. You've done this before, it might look different. Right. But you can do it. And the other thing is, we know based on research, top performers and the higher earner ends up better off after Divorce, better off financially.[00:18:00]
Like you're, it's a blip. It's
[00:18:02] Karen Mahon: a season. Right? And I think where people can really get caught up is, um, control, right? So if you're a top producer, you've. Enjoyed taking control, having control, being in control. And this was the other thing Ryan had said in my interview with him is, you know, these CEOs and these other, uh, top producers who are at the negotiation table for business all of the time, this is a different negotiation.
Now you're at the negotiation table with your spouse, and that's very emotional and you can't use the same tools and it doesn't work the same way. And so, um, Noticing where you are struggling with letting go of control is really valuable. And, and that kind of ties into where are you resisting? Well, it better be this way, or he or she better do this.
And that's, then that's that slippery slope of a lot of energy going, well, what does your attorney say? Are you [00:19:00] listening to your attorney? Or are you just battling with your spouse And, and so paying attention to where am I holding tight onto control that's not serving me. Where am I resistant that's causing me to just be diminished in my ability to be effective.
[00:19:20] Billie Tarascio: a great point. It's a really great point. And um, do you have your clients or do you encourage journaling?
[00:19:30] Karen Mahon: Yeah. So, um, journaling is, uh, a, a great tool and especially when it comes to processing the emotional stuff. And, and I would say, um, as much as I hate to, um, specify gender, I think for men, um, it's.
Especially helpful to be able to process all that's going on. If you do not have guy friends that you are talking to, if you do not have a way of verbally processing through this, [00:20:00] journaling helps you just put it on paper what's going on. It helps you to release some of the emotional angst around it and it's gonna be better for you in the long run.
[00:20:12] Billie Tarascio: Awesome. What are some other. Recommendations you have for things that people can do to help them process, to help them stay
[00:20:20] Karen Mahon: centered? Yeah, so, so a key thing is, is having, um, having the time. So that part, we have a 12 step program and one of the steps is to be present, right? And so, uh, if you're really busy, you, you're not thinking about it.
People will say to me, it's, it's when I'm going to sleep at night. It's when I'm commuting to work. It's on my weekends when I might not have the kids that my monkey mind is going wild. It's swinging from the trees. And so as our mind starts going into either regretting the past or [00:21:00] worrying the future, um, that's taking up all of this emotional energy.
And so in those moments, The first thing would be notice when do you have the hard, what is your hardest time of the day? What is your hardest time of the week? And then once you know what it is, well why is it hard? And if it's a ruminating thing, then you can come up with a practice. I was just talking to a client this morning.
She's like, I have to stop ruminating. I have to stop ruminating. And I say, well, so that's like saying I have to stop looking at the elephant in the middle of the room. All you're gonna do is look at the elephant in the middle of the room. Rather, what do I need? And that's a, that's the question for people to ask themselves.
If you stop and you say, okay, what do I need right now? Um, maybe what you need is to give yourself 15 minutes to ruminate. I'm gonna throw an emotional tantrum. I'm gonna cuss and yell and put down my soon to be ex because I wanna expend that energy. And then I'm gonna get on with my day. I'm gonna walk the dogs, I'm gonna go for a ride.
I'm gonna do whatever I'm going [00:22:00] to do. And so, so, When you can begin to notice your behavior that isn't serving you, that's where you start to enjoy the treasures that come out of the process too. So staying present, noticing how. Um, chattery your mind is, and where it's going, what the fears are that it keeps talking about, and then you can start challenging them.
How true is that? What else is true? How much time do I need to just fuss about that before I can let it go? You get to know yourself really well. This is the beginning of like, you know, just really growing your emotional intelligence through the process. Yeah.
[00:22:42] Billie Tarascio: In some ways I felt like coming out of a Divorce felt similar to graduating college in Yeah.
In that it was like a new, it was a new chapter. It was a do-over, it was like [00:23:00] restarting. It was like, how do I wanna decorate my house now? And even that was a very difficult, like, I didn't even know how to do that. Like, what do, what do I like? Like, you know, I've been, I've been, I've been married for 15 years and everything at that point is a compromise.
Everything is a compromise. And now you're like, who am I? Like it is truly a rebirth. That is truly an opportunity to start
[00:23:23] Karen Mahon: over. And I think especially for the audience that we're talking to right now, whether you're male or female, if you're C-suite, if you're running your own business, um, you may not have been the primary parent.
And so now this is one thing we talk to our, our high producers about. Um, you want 50 50. Can you actually do 50 50? So let's not make it about the fight and what's fair. Because what's fair is you being your best when you're with the kids. So, so number one, is it even doable? Um, [00:24:00] and, and then if it's that much of a com commitment, I had this one fellow, he was, uh, Nationwide salesperson, and he said it's that much that it's that important and I'm gonna find a job that allows me to travel less so that I can raise my four kids because I want my 50% time.
And so for the high producers, I. Everything we're talking about, there may be a shift that you are not just making just through the Divorce, right? There may be a bigger shift that you're making that, you know what? I'm not gonna keep climbing the corporate ladder. I'm gonna stop where I am. I'm going to adjust my position because I actually want to be with my kids as much as I can, and that requires me.
I'm not gonna have mom at home or dad at home doing that part. So now it requires me to change my availability. And so that's a huge shift and, and I often encourage people start, [00:25:00] if that's what you want, start practicing well before the Divorce is done, like right from the get-go, start talking about, um, sharing weekends and sharing time so that you can see.
What is it like to work until five 30? Pick up the kids, run them around to activities, try and get them fed and in bed in time? Like is that doable for you? If it is, let's see what shifts need to happen so that you can do it without losing your mind and so that you can be present with the kids.
[00:25:29] Billie Tarascio: Yes, I could not agree more, and it is also an opportunity to reset your parenting.
So when you are in your marriage, there was some dynamic. There was some dynamic of parenting somebody was responsible for, for these things, and somebody else was responsible for these things. And if your parenting styles weren't aligned, somebody took the lead on how that parenting or discipline or structure was gonna go down.
And you had the opportunity to now [00:26:00] reset all of that to determine how do I wanna run my house? How do I wanna influence my kids? How do I bring. The best of me to my children. It is a huge opportunity and I know many parents I think, who are better parents after Divorce.
[00:26:16] Karen Mahon: I would say I was definitely a better parent after Divorce.
I always worked. So except for whatever my maternity leave was. Um, so I was out working as well as my then husband and, uh, yeah, and it's a big, it's like, okay, what do I wanna do? What do I know I don't wanna do? And um, and then, you know, we could get into what comes with that is, uh, keep your side of the street clean, what you're, Uh, now x is doing what the kids in his or her household, unless they're literally in danger, is not your business.
And you need to, especially if you can't co-parent and you parallel parent, they do their thing, you do your thing, and that's okay. Um, people are always so [00:27:00] worried about the children. It's like they have different teachers, they have different coaches. They'll be just fine. Um, as long as they're safe. Right
[00:27:07] Billie Tarascio: songs, they're safe.
They can live in lots of different environments. And in an environment that is best, like every parent has to have their own parenting relationship with each child. Nobody can do it the same way.
[00:27:23] Karen Mahon: Yeah. Yes. I think that all, all the standard rules go, but for, for those of you who are in these higher pressure situations, uh, It, it serves you well to build a support team, both a personal and a professional, and then a small group in your business so that, um, so that you can.
So that you can engage in whatever priority is a priority at that point. By having all of that support, you set yourself up for success. Success, to negotiate the best settlement [00:28:00] success, to be the best parent success, to continue along your professional path as best possible.
[00:28:07] Billie Tarascio: Well, Karen, how do people work with you?
[00:28:11] Karen Mahon: So we have, um, thank you for asking. We have, I have a team of, uh, seven Divorce coaches. So we're, uh, we're coast to coast, but we also coach, uh, across the English speaking world. And so when people are interested, we offer, uh, For folks who are really ready, um, we offer a rapid relief call. It's a, it's a free coaching call to, uh, figure out where you're stuck, get some next steps, and experience the power of coaching.
So that's what I love to offer. That's a rapid relief firstname.lastname@example.org. And then we have programs, we have group coaching programs and online programs for people who would prefer to learn about attorneys, and attorneys for the children and [00:29:00] forensics and the finances and all those different pieces.
They can, they can go into different programs that we have as well. Wonderful,
[00:29:08] Billie Tarascio: wonderful. So do you work with people individually as well, or not anymore?
[00:29:13] Karen Mahon: No, I do, I do. So our podcast is Journey Beyond Divorce. Um, I have a limited number of private clients that I work with, and then, uh, we've got, we do a, a. I was, I left my Divorce $60,000 in debt and like, just really between a rock and a hard place financially.
So our desire is to support everyone. And so we've got, we've got associate coaches all the way up to our senior coaches to try and fit everybody's budget. And then we have our support groups as well. So we're really, our desire is to support everyone where they are.
[00:29:51] Billie Tarascio: Fantastic. Well, Karen, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing all of your knowledge and all of your experience.
It's been an incredible [00:30:00] episode. If you all have liked this episode, make sure you download it, rate it, review it, leave a comment, share it with your friends, and check out our other episodes. Until next time, we will see you again soon. Thanks.
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