Four Steps to Avoiding Terminal Vagueness


According to debtor’s anonymous, many people who repeatedly incur unsecured debt experience so-called “terminal vagueness” – a lack of awareness or monitoring of their finances. But you don’t have to be ready for a Twelve-Step program to be prone to this condition. Here are four steps to getting out of the terminal vagueness that besets those stuck in dissatisfaction.

First, get clear about where you are now. Dissatisfaction can be diffuse and tricky to pin down, but if you divide your life into different areas (see the wheel of life assessments), you will be better able to see specifically what is working and what is not working. For example, if you are unhappy at your job is it because you hate your work? or do you love your work but there is too much of it? Or if you seek a better life balance, what elements are over- or under-weighted.

Next, know what is important to you – what are your core values, the things that make for feeling fulfilled? These might include intellectual growth, adventure, security, passion, family, creativity, fitness, independence. To gain more clarity about what these values mean, think of examples when you were living according to or honoring each value – or a time when you compromised or stepped on an value.

Now, you are ready to set clear goals. You want to get in shape? First, establish a target, whether it is a clothing size, a weight, or an athletic achievement. You want to be financially secure? Figure out how much money you have to earn and how much you need to save to feel secure. You want to be successful? Define success – in terms of professional achievement, title, promotion, or salary.

Finally, commit to specific steps to move you toward your goal, and establish a plan for monitoring your progress – a resolutions chart (the adult equivalent of our kids’ sticker charts), keeping a journal, or setting up accountability with a coach or a friend.