This is part of a four-post series detailing how to create—and make the most of—your business plan. Read other posts in the series: 

    The second part of the Must-Haves exercise is defining your why.

    Why do you want all the stuff in the Must-Haves survival column and all the Wants in the middle column?

    Answering the question about the survival items is pretty obvious:  

    • So you don’t die
    • So you don’t go bankrupt
    • So you can afford to live

    But we need to go deeper—beyond the obvious. Because the items in the “Wants” column should have a big meaning in your life.  

    Two questions to test each item on your “Wants” list

    Go through every item on your “Wants” list, one by one. For each, ask yourself these two questions: 

    1. What happens when you complete this commitment? 
    2. What pain do you incur if you fail? 

    Anytime you are unsure of the items on your “Wants” list, go back and rewatch the video on “The Best Time to Start a Business Plan.” 

    And make sure those “Wants” are huge. Every single one should have real meaning and an irreplaceable impact on your life. 

    Commitments—not goals

    We’re calling these commitments—not goals—to remind you of your personal investment in each one. These aren’t New Year’s resolutions or wishes. 

    This isn’t an experiment. When you write something down in the “Wants” column (or in the “Must Haves”), you’re committing yourself to do the work necessary to accomplish those things. Before you commit to each one, make sure it will move the needle in your life. 

    Now, let’s dig deeper into those two questions.

    Question #1: What happens when you complete this commitment?

    To make this even clearer, create bullet points after that first question and list the things that will happen if you meet a specific commitment. That’s right—you should be writing all this down. 

    Say, for example, that one of your commitments is to save $50,000. If your yearly annual survival is only $40K, what happens when you save $50K? You now have more than the bare minimum you would need to survive for a full year if something were to impact your health, or if you needed (or wanted) to take some time off.

    Or what happens if you buy your first rental property? Suddenly, you have a source of passive income, which, hopefully, more than covers the cost of keeping and maintaining that property. 

    For each item in your “Wants” list, dig down to what will happen emotionally, what happens for your family, and how it will impact your well-being—financial as well as emotional and physical. 

    What exactly will that accomplishment do for you and the people closest to you?

    Question #2 – What pain will you incur if you fail?

    With the survival stuff, the pain that goes with not paying your bills is pretty obvious. You may not be able to eat. You may get evicted from your home. You may lose power—and that loss could happen during a deadly heat wave or a devastating winter storm. 

    When it comes to wants, the potential pain is less clear-cut. Let’s say, for example, that you want to pay off $50K in college debt. An agent on my team had a commitment to pay off his wife’s entire college debt, which was $40K. He did it in six months (he thought it would take a year). 

    Now, what if he made that commitment at the beginning of the year to his wife, and he failed—and he didn’t pay off any of the college debt? The wife would wonder if her husband is cut out for the business. That’s a painful conversation. 

    Or what pain could you incur if you didn’t succeed in saving $50K and something happened that required you to take time off from work? Without that savings, you would have no financial cushion to provide for yourself and your family while unable to work. Another pain could be going back to a job you hated. 

    Pen to paper

    This is a simple exercise. But again, going pen to paper—in your journal, on a large piece of cardstock, or whatever you have handy—will ensure that this exercise leaves an indelible impression on your mind. When you articulate your thoughts by hand, writing out the words, it brings the reality of those words home for you. 

    So, ask yourself, “What is going to happen when I follow through on all these things I need to make happen and that I want over the next twelve months—and what happens when I fall short?” And write down your answers. 

    • Will I have to go back to that job I hated? 
    • Will I have to have that conversation with my spouse—that I failed to come through
    • Will I have to tell everyone who doubted me that they were right?

    Going through this exercise will set the table for what comes next in this series.