I wanted to create a new series to help you DIY your own money mentoring process with these Peer Mentoring Tools.

It all starts with good questions. Most great mentors are great because 1. They “show up” in a meaningful way (focused on your goals, your situation, to help encourage you to make progress). And 2. They ask good questions that enable you to dig out your own answers.

I have a very specific process I use for creating actionable, trajectory changing plans…..but it all starts with finding the answers to the most important questions. Because how will we know which path to take if we aren’t clear on the destination we want to arrive at?

The goal of this series is to help with the good questions.


Mentoring Exercise: Be-Have-Do

So this is a fun one. It’s the first one I recommend if you have never done these kinds of questions, and aren’t really sure how to even start. This is really intuitive for most people. Unlike the other questions, this one is better approached as an exercise.

What you need:

life planning exersise

I added a cup of tea for good measure!

Start with 3 stacks of different colored Post-it notes


Flat surface or poster board to organize the Post-it notes on.


Step 1: Brainstorm


Take 20-30 minutes to brainstorm on your own. Write down each idea you come up with on a sticky note. It can be one word or a short phrase. You can bounce between each idea, just write them down as they come.

What do you want to BE: Write down each idea you come up with on a sticky note. It can be one word or a short phrase.

Focus on things that are central to your identity. Things that would finish the sentence “I am a …”

Maybe you want to be a great chef. Or a writer. Maybe you want to be a great father. Well traveled. Interesting. Generous.

Write everything you think of on one of the colors of Post-it notes. Write as many as you can think of, as fast as you think of them.

What do you want to HAVE?

For most people, this is the easiest question to answer. We can think of lots of things we want to have, because marketing is constantly putting this idea in front of us. But it’s an important question. Because our lives are filled with possessions. Which possessions do we really want to have?

Maybe it’s a classic car or motorcycle. A vacation cabin. A camper. A lovely garden. Downhill skis. A collection of Polish pottery. A comfy bed. Chickens in the backyard.  If it pops in your head, write that word(s) down on the second color of Post-it notes.

What do you want to DO?

These can be big or small things. But what do you really want to do?

RV around the US. Garden in the summer. Run half marathons. Weekend adventures. Volunteer at the homeless teen shelter. Exercises 3 times a week.  Read a book each week. Visit 30 countries. Do stand up comedy. Write a book. Create a product to sell at craft fairs. Host a dinner party each month. Take grandkids fishing.

Write each one down on the third color of sticky note. Make sure you think about the present but also the future.

life planning exersise

Step 2 Organize:

During step 1, you will write all 3 areas down as they come to you. You can do step one side by side with a partner (spouse, best friend, etc.) or alone, but it is a solo task. Each person has to write down their own answers.

In step two you will organize each Post-it note. If you are using a poster board, write a large BE-HAVE-DO at the top of the board. If you are just using a table top, create a label with a sticky note of that color. You can start to organize the Post-it notes under their label.

If you are working with a partner, find the ones that match up and put them side by side. Take time to talk about each one as you find it’s spot on the board.

BE HAVE DO life planning exersise

The Magic in this Question:

Our Be-Have-Do list requires 3 things to turn into reality.

  1. Time
  2. Money
  3. Commitment

All three are in limited supply. We simply don’t have the time, money and commitment for 1000 different things. And we can’t do them all at the same time.

On each Post-it note, I mark them with a $, T (for TIME), or C/P (for commitment or Process, as in I would have to commit to the process of doing this for a long time, ie., saving a million dollars or becoming an amazing pastry chef). Perhaps a combination of 2 or 3.

Then I think of them in terms of

  1. Habit
  2. Seasons

Somethings I can build habits around, like reading every day, having weekend adventures with my kids, eating healthy food, or spending time outside each day.

Other things are put into my decades of life. I use to plan to accomplish 3 big things each decade of my life. I focused in on seeing significant progress on 3 things. I figured if I had my 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s to knock out my biggest goals, that would give me time to do 15 big things in my life. So I sorted out our Be-Have-Do by what would fit best in each decade. Then started taking ground on those items.

My 20’s list:

  1. Pay off $50,000 in debt PLUS pay cash for a house.
  2. Sort through my personal baggage
  3. Travel the world
  4. Adopt

The best part of financial independence is I can run faster and take more ground. Without most of my time, money and commitments going towards a 9-5 job or having to pay bills, it’s freed up those resources. Now I am looking at tackling 5-10 big things a decade. With out the 9-5 jobs, I think I can tackle most big things in 1-2 years instead of 3-4 years.

So the magic in this question: it sets you up to focus your most valuable resources on the things you want to Be-Have-Do.

 If something didn’t make it on a Post-it note,

why are you spending so much of your time, money or commitments on it?

In the mentoring process, when we go to create your custom road map, we compile the answers to all these questions into a framework that plots out your long term goals. Then we find the actions and habits that you need to focus on this year and month to start taking ground.

Road Blocks to watch out for:

With each good question, there is often a road block or challenges that trip us up. Here is one that I see happen in this question:

Confusing BE with HAVE or DO

It’s challenging at times to separate who we are in our identity from what we own or the things we do. Sometimes our identity is tied into the way we earn money, but not necessarily. Other times we don’t have the “DO” piece yet, but are actively building the “BE.” You can “BE” an artist before having sold your art. You can “BE” a connector of people before you create a group/event/fb page. Actually, it’s necessary to “BE” those things in your mind long before you see the outward markers of success. Similarly, “HAVE”ing things doesn’t create your “BE” or even your “DO”. You can have trekking poles and not be adventurous or fit. You can have great BBQ grill and not host amazing get together’s for friends.

 Tempered, or unspoken answers

“If it’s not a for sure thing, I don’t want to write it down.” “It’s silly, I shouldn’t want that.” “If I write it down, I’ll just feel sad it can’t happen.” “I’m not good enough/important enough to want to be that.”

There are so many reasons we don’t write down the things we actually want. Fear, embarrassment, inadequacy. Listen, it takes courage to write things on paper.

But if you can’t find the courage to write it down,  

the dream is dead in the water. 

Here is a painful truth: you need to muster the courage to write it down, or you need to let it go. Just move on.

Don’t let your dreams feel like unspoken regrets hanging over your life. 

Start with small dreams if you can’t muster the vision for bigger ones yet. Maybe you can’t write down, “Publish 10 books.” Or “Travel to 50 countries.” Then you need to at least write down “Write a book.” and “Travel to 3 new countries.” And after you do those things, it will fill you with the courage to dream even bigger dreams. Seth Godin has published 18 books, a few of them New York Times bestsellers. I can almost guarantee he started by writing that first one.

Sign up here to get the full Be-Have-Do Conversation Starter outline plus two more bonus money mentoring outlines.

Who am I to be-have-do that?

As a millennial, I’ve come to learn the hard way, we were sold a half truth. Most of us heard “Your special and gifted and can change the world.” Which is true. The part most people forgot to mention was “And it’ll be hard as hell. It’ll take years of dedication, struggle, and work before you see the fruit.” So at the first bump in the road, our courage and belief was shaken. Now the promise feels true for others, but not for us personally.

Yes, it’s going to be hard. I know hard. We paid off $50,000 of debt and then went on to save $100,000 by the time I turned 24. I adopted a special needs 12-year-old when I was 22. I paid cash for my first house. I added 3 kids from foster care to our family all at once. I’ve had to bury a child.

Hard doesn’t matter if you are doing something worth doing.

Hard won’t crush you if you are doing your most important work. 

Hard is the price of admission.

All the people I am blown away by– who have done amazing, important, inspiring things– they paid for the admission ticket with hard. Don’t live in fear of the price of admission.

Maybe you feel “less-than”

You grew up poor, or from a bad part of town, or with drug addicted parents, or your dad ran out on you, or you were harassed and looked down on because of one of a hundred possible reasons. Or you had someone in your life that tried to fill your head with limiting negative beliefs: “No one from here ever amounts to anything, so I don’t know why you think you’re so special.” “You think you’re too good for real, honest work?” Or one that still haunts me, “Reading is just for lazy people who don’t want to work.”

Listen, as your friend, as your virtual mentor, can you lean in for a moment? If any of those things are something you carry, can I speak a new word to you?

I wish I could chat with each and every one of you. Look you in the eyes, and untangle the lies you took on as your own. Because that isn’t you. Your dead beat father, the number on the scale, the way foolish and cruel people treated you, your grades in school, the part of town you grew up in, not finishing high school, a failed business, teenage pregnancy or being raped. That was someone else’s mistake: in judging what that situation said about you, in the way they treated you, in their own screwed up lives. And you don’t have to own their mistake. Their error doesn’t dictate your value. So, friend, write down your own Be-Have-Do. Don’t let people who lack true vision write it for you.

“What does this say about me?”

Absolutely nothing. I’m not saying this just to be nice. It’s unequivocally false that any of those things make you less-than. Complete and total bullshit. Let’s just call it was it is. Some of the most talented, amazing people I know are obese. Some of the most successful, inspirational folks I call friends have grown up poor, or with addicted parents or with a parent they never saw or was in prison. Some of the kindest, thoughtful, capable, strong people I know were raped, or cheated on or run out on by a spouse. But here is the thing–these people aren’t the exceptions to the rule. They are just the ones who figured out that it’s bullshit to let someone else write the rest of their story and wrongly measure their worth. 

If you write down your Be-Have-D0 and are terrified to share it with anyone, for fear of their unsupportive, unhelpful comments, send it to me! montanamoneyadventures@gmail.com. I’ll be your biggest cheerleader. I’m in your corner. Not to be all braggy, but my vision is 20/20. Other people might have had poor vision for your life, but mine is damn good.

Don’t be afraid to be a little feisty. Someone once told me that only lazy people read books. Well, you know what? I read 50 books a year now! I’ve read well over 500 books. And I boldly added to by BE column, “well read.” Take that!

Can I just say one more thing? If you have done really screwed things up, like just straight up bad choices in the past: you don’t have to take that into your future. Leave it in the past. Resolve, make amends, try to fix what was broken, redeem it and do better next time. Don’t drag your broken past into your future. Some of us opt to learn every lesson the hard way. But we learned them, so let’s use that to our advantage now.

Here’s how to spot Road Blocks:

If something pops into your head and you hesitate to write it down….just write it down. This isn’t about finding the most reasonable, middle of the road, safe stuff. It’s about stretching. It’s about surprising yourself. It’s about writing down the things that have only been a passing thought.


How to DIY this money mentoring question:

  1. You can do this exercise alone or side by side with a friend/spouse/partner. Brainstorm all three at once. Do the brainstorm quietly and after you have written every single thing you can think of, chat about those as you organize them into categories.
  2. Figure out which resources each item would require. Decide if it’s something you can incorporate into a habit or needs to go into a certain decade of life.
  3. After you get it all organized and sorted, take a picture. Keep the image on your phone, print it out or as a screensaver. This is an exercise you need to come back to every 1-3 years. Situations change and we change. Make sure you allow your dreams to change along with that.

Follow up questions:

Often our truest answers are a few questions deep. We need mentors to help us dig and get at the core of the issue. So follow up questions are key. Here are a few

  1. Now, after writing everything down and organizing it, is there anything you want to take off the table? It just doesn’t measure up compared to the others?
  2. If you can only pick 3 things for this decade, what seems to fit best now?
  3. Are there things not on this list that are taking a good deal of your time, money and commitments? Any you could downsize or eliminate to free up those resources.
  4. Anything that caught you off guard in yourself or your partner?


Good luck as you DIY this with people in your life!