It's an interesting question. I recall how quickly I learned to navigate around Baton Rouge--getting lost a few times in the process, of course--after I got my license and started paying attention to where I was going.
I suspect the answer is the first tag on this essay: self-awareness. When you realize it's only you--that you're no longer half of a couple--you do start listening to your own neglected inner promptings.
I'll bet your sense of direction has also gotten far more keen in figurative ways as well.