Last week I decided to take a personal loan. I have been struggling for a very long time with a credit card debt with a very high interest rate, and I found if I went the route of a personal loan I could both reduce the interest rate and get on a four year payment plan where I could actually get out of debt in the near future. I believe I’ve been operating within my means for several years (the last year I didn’t was the year J was born and that was because I made less money because of all the leave I took and because my expenses were ratcheted up because of the pregnancy). But with a large amount of debt getting out of it takes a lot more than living within your means. So this was the route I’m going, and I finally feel like there might be an end in sight to living without any savings, without a buffer.
So in order to get this loan I had to have a conversation with a loan officer, over the phone. He wanted to find out why I’m taking the loan, he wanted to find out what my household looked like, he wanted to find out how many years I wanted to pay back the loan in, and then he asked me what I thought was the strangest question ever.
He wanted to know once I paid back the loan what my goals were. I told him I had no goals.
I was relaying this story to a friend of mine and he thought the reason they were asking was if I said buy a house then in 3.5 years they would start sending me information packets about their home loan programs, and if I said buy a car they would do the same but with car loans. I’m sure this friend is probably right.
But in the moment, I was so confused. And I acted confused. I hemmed and hawed and was like “what do you mean goals?” So he said “what are you hoping to do once you have paid off this loan, buy a house, travel, what?” And I told this guy “I don’t have goals”. And he wasn’t taking that for an answer. Finally I mumbled something about how I would then pay off my student loans and that seemed to finally get him to stop asking me.
Later, the question stayed with me. I kept thinking of my lack of goals. Now don’t get me wrong, I can talk about goals I have in my life, but mostly those goals sounded like “be happy”, “Appreciate the people who love me and love the people who appreciate me” or maybe if I was really trying to be specific “work at a job that I love, get married and have a family”. But goals never looked like get a certain job, achieve a certain status, and they certainly NEVER involved how much money I had or was making. It has never been important to me. So this guy asking this goal about financials and me not coming up with an answer shouldn’t have been surprising. But I think the reason this stayed with me wasn’t because I didn’t have an answer, but because I did have one. Or more to the point, the real goal I have is one I have already missed out on. I wish I was at a place I could have parented J. Only I wasn’t. And being at a better, more stable and secure place in the future won’t ever change that. I can’t magically go back four years and make a world where I had a stable life and was well supported. So even if looking forward it was my goal after paying off debt to create a life full of stability and support, a life where I could possibly parent a child, I’m not sure what that goal would get me.
For me talking about a goal means putting into words what your ideal future looks like. How can I pretend like any future I have can be ideal when that future isn’t a place where I’m parenting J?