Close this search box.

Not A Subscriber?

Join 140,000+ getting mindf*cked every Saturday morning while reading The Koe Letter (you’ll learn a bit about life & business too.)

How To Be More Productive Than 99% Of People & How To Get Out Of A Rut

The best decisions I’ve made are the ones that people see as “stupid.”

In 2018:

I wasted my life’s savings and maxed out my first credit card to try and make a business work.

In 2019:

I got rid of everything I owned (except for a few bags of clothes and a laptop) and flew to a different country.

I also quit my job even when my freelancing business could lose every client in an instant.

In 2020:

I signed a lease for an apartment that was 2x what I could afford.

This forced me to make my business work.

From 2021 to present:

I moved locations every six months.

Each one being more expensive than the next, forcing my income to grow with it, because the only limits in the digital world are the one’s you believe.

My income went from $50,000, $100,000, and $200,000 per month year after year.

It would be hard to attribute this to any one piece of business advice or a book.

I knew that my progress was the result of not allowing myself to get stuck in the black hole of stagnation and distraction.

I moved to Austin, Texas with JK Molina, Dakota Robertson, and my editor Devan. This led to a massive shift in how I view online business.

I moved back to Scottsdale, Arizona on a whim. We broke our lease, threw the 10 or so items we owned in my car, and stayed in a hotel for 2 weeks before our next lease started.

I’m in Phoenix now, but feel the itch to move again, so I’m going to within the next two weeks. With the book and software launch coming up, I need to shock my system and hurl myself into the unknown.

That’s where I thrive, but only if I have the skill to accept the challenge.

Update: I started writing this on Friday, today is Monday, my move in date is tomorrow (Tuesday). Lease was broken Saturday 🙂

Quality of life, idea generation, and dopamine are through the roof right now.

Everything is meaningful because I have so much responsibility that all information can be applied in a practical manner.

If life feels meaningless, it’s because you aren’t training your responsibility muscle.

You haven’t lifted the emotional weight to add more to the bar and see progress on a deeper level than muscle.

Tactical Stress – The Secret Behind Abnormal Results

Goldfish grow to fit the tank you put them in.

But if you keep them in a small bowl, they never grow.

A similar phenomenon exists that is illustrated by Parkinson’s Law:

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

What I call “Tactical Stress” is quite similar:

Tactical stress is the conscious decision to force yourself into a do or die situation – knowing that you have the skill to make it work – and have no choice but to overcome your fears. The result is a season of intensity that propels you into the next level of your life.

When you have an understanding of this concept, you add it as a tool to your mental toolbelt.

When you identify yourself as being stuck in a rut, you can use this as a tool to force you to dig yourself out.

There are a few applications and strategies you can use as inspiration:

The Philosophy & Psychology Of Tactical Stress

Every time I’ve used tactical stress to break out of a rut, what’s followed has always been a season of intense productivity.

I wouldn’t be doing anything else but working.

This is one of the few times that I break my 4 Hour Workday principle. I will work long hours and enjoy every second of it.

What’s interesting is that these periods are also my most creative.

Usually, productivity and creativity exist on polar ends of a spectrum.

But there is the theme of going full circle, where polar ends collapse into one, usually indicating a heightened degree of the flow state.

Going Full Circle

Imagine a straight line with black on one end, white on the other, and a gradient to blend them together in the middle.

This line can represent most things in life, because nothing is always black or white.

Everything exists on a spectrum. Everything is relative. Everything is a state of mind or consciousness.

There are degrees of energy, productivity, creativity, intelligence, anger, sadness, happiness, calmness, stress, saltiness, sweetness, roughness, softness, brightness, and darkness.

All of these blend together to create your human experience.

They aren’t limited to one but can be isolated with your awareness of them. You can pick apart your current state of mind and explore its depths.

Now, imagine the black-to-white gradient line from before.

But now connect the two ends so that it forms a circle.

The black now flips immediately to white.

This is a more accurate representation of life, or your state of mind, than a flat line with two dead ends.

This flip and color represents the phenomenon of going full circle.

When someone is so dumb they become smart.

When someone is so unfunny they become funny.

When someone is so tired they become energetic.

Where the black and white ends touch is where tactical stress comes into play. Where you consciously push certain aspects of reality to their limit and watch it bounce back in your favor.

The Psychology Of Tactical Stress

The purpose of tactical stress is to launch yourself into the unknown – the land of infinite potential.

You become overwhelmed with information.

It’s too much for your mind to metabolize.

So, you’re forced to create clarity from the chaos.

You set a goal that is borderline impossible, force yourself to achieve it, and transmute the stress to study and act your a** off until it becomes reality.

Doing this does a few things.

First, it creates a frame of reference.

Your goal must stay top of mind when you launch into the unknown. Your goal is how you filter signal from noise. Your goal is how you spot opportunities in the chaotic mess of information flooding your mind.

If you forced yourself to move across the country and become a digital nomad, you will notice that certain information is more useful for actualizing that goal.

You will naturally notice certain social media posts, follow new accounts, and begin programming your mind to perform specific actions.

Second, it creates a deadline.

Everyone knows that deadlines are powerful for increasing your productivity. But most deadlines aren’t real.

When you fly across the country or invest your life savings in coaching, the deadline is as real as it can get.

You either make it work or let yourself fall apart because your survival is at stake.

Tactical stress puts you in a temporary state of survival mode.

It’s unhealthy, yes, but it’s temporary.

Third, it narrows your focus.

When your mind is narrowed on your goal, distractions can’t penetrate your frame.

It’s all you can focus on.

You go to bed thinking about it.

Your mind won’t stop strategizing a plan to get you out of this situation.

And once you gain clarity on what you must do, through study and action, you use that laser focus to build whatever is necessary to actualize the goal.

Removing Your Money Limits

It’s safe to say that at a certain point, you will have to start a business if you want to keep pushing further in life.

The only reason I was able to do this time and time again was because I had a business.

A business gives you the creative boundaries to increase your income as much as you’d like. That isn’t possible at any job. I don’t care about the CEO who climbed the ranks over 40 years to make a huge salary when I can achieve that in 2-6 years of focused effort on building my own thing.

Tactical stress was my method for forcing my business to grow.

When I moved across the country or invested my life’s savings, it created a need for more money.

If I didn’t have a business, I wouldn’t be able to increase my income that rapidly. It would take years to job hop my way to $100,000 extra dollars.

In business, all that takes me is a proper strategy, the right skill set, a compelling offer, and enough traffic to sell $100,000 worth of it. Yes, I’m aware that’s an oversimplification, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or not worth listening to.

Build your own thing.

Strategies For Tactical Stress

Throughout my life, here is what I’ve done that I would consider tactical stress.

These are not the only ways to do it, but they could be used as inspiration.

A lot of you have creator businesses (or are at least trying to build one) and one of these could be the push you need.

1) Launching a product before building it.

Beginners think you need a product or service before you can start selling it.

This is the stupidest way to go about it.

You don’t even know if the idea is validated yet.

Instead, create the offer and landing page.

Set a launch date 3-4 weeks out. This is your deadline.

Start promoting, hard.

This will obviously require you to have the knowledge and skills of how to build an audience and create a compelling product or service.

I would recommend watching my One Person Business playlist on YouTube, or enroll in Digital Economics if you want all of my systems laid out for you.

Once you have one buyer, the pressure is on.

You either create the MVP (minimum viable product) in record time or you fail and refund all of the money you made.

2) Location hopping.

I didn’t do this on purpose, but I’ve found myself moving locations every 6 months over the past 2 years.

Mostly because I felt like I’d exhausted everything from that location.

I knew all of the restaurants. I knew all of the walking paths. I knew what additions I was able to make to my friend group.

There was no further room for discovery.

So, when things began getting monotonous, I moved.

This also holds true for building a business vs working a job.

Entrepreneurship keeps you on your toes. If you become stagnant, that’s your fault. You have the choice to scale as high as you want to go and personal development will be forced to follow.

When I moved, I always made an effort to increase the quality of environment I was in.

Better network.

Better resources.

Better walkability.

Better access to food.

Of course, this comes at a cost. That’s where tactical stress comes in.

I would sign a lease at an apartment that felt like it was at the edge of my comfort zone.

Something I could afford, but would have to increase my income to relieve the stress that came with a higher payment.

Survival is a potent short-term productivity tool.

3) Investing in education.

I was a course hoarder.

I purchased at least 50 social media, web development, freelancing, and marketing courses throughout my journey.

They helped build my knowledge but weren’t enough to kick me into action.

After seeing some success with freelance web design, I knew I wanted to go all in on social media.

I saw the potential in being able to infinitely build a readership over the course of my entire life.

I saw that building an audience with valuable writing (that they wanted to read) would allow me to build and sell anything I wanted to make a living – as long as the customer wanted it as well.

This is the driving force behind why I created 2 Hour Writer. To pass along the power of the digital word.

What did I do?

I spent $3500 on a coaching program.

That did not feel good to my mental bank account.

What happened?

I showed up to one coaching call.


But that was all I needed to show me that I already knew what I had to do.

Write content, get it shared by making high online social status friends, and iterate on products or services until I strike gold.

The investment in the program forced me to start doing what I do now and never quit.

4) Material items.

This one is touchy.

I’m not a super materialistic guy.

I’m literally writing this in my living room that only has a desk in it. No couch, no TV, nothing. Just a desk to write at.

But, material items have their perks.

One is that they signal status.

Sure, you don’t want to play status games, but everyone judges a book by it’s cover.

That car or watch or shirt could be the unconscious deciding factor that makes someone want to give you a million-dollar opportunity.

I drive a fairly nice car.

(For those curious, it’s a Mercedes GT63s – matte black of course to stay on brand).

The amount of business cards people give me as I’m walking to it are insane. The attention is a bit annoying but you can’t deny the bump in social status.

Just don’t let materialism consume you.

I’m ready to sell it or even just let it go at a moment’s notice if the situation calls for it.

When I bought the car cash, that was an enormous chunk out of my wallet.

It was almost automatic to build, sell, and launch a new offer to make that money back in a week with the leverage I’ve built over time.

5) Degeneracy.

Another touchy one.

There are obvious lines that you can cross with all of these.

Tactical stress is not for the mindless.

I also don’t like sugarcoating what I’ve done that’s helped my personal growth but is often demonized by the straight-edge Huberman cult.

The pre-requisite to all of this is having a goal that is so potent (because you’ve invested enough energy in it already) that if you weren’t to achieve it – it would feel like an early death.

So, when you decide to go out, party, and have one too many drinks… you will feel the lack of progress you are making the next day.

You will get mad at yourself.

You will be stressed that you are falling behind.

That brings us to our last point.

Emotional Transmutation – Turning Stress Into Fuel

The only thing more painful than pursuing the highest version of yourself is not pursuing the highest version of yourself.

As you launch yourself into stressful situations, you will have to deal with the negative emotions that come with that state of mind.

These are the moments where you build the mental strength to overcome difficult situations.

The emotional burden will make or break you.

If you can lift the weight and get stronger, you will be surprised how easy life becomes. Minor inconveniences that ruin most people will not phase you.

Another thing, regret is a necessary part of life.

You can’t avoid it.

Most people dwell on their regrets as if they can change them.

You have two options: view them as ugly stains that make life worse, or view them as cracks that can be sealed with better future decisions.

There is one pattern I’ve noticed in people looking to improve their life.

The pain of where you are must outweigh the pain of what other people think.

People will think you are stupid for making “stupid” decisions.

People will talk about you when you are making big changes.

Most of the time, they just want to entertain themselves.

They don’t understand the information behind your decisions.

You will learn to ignore them with time.

What’s the other option?

Let your dreams die on the shelf because people say something you don’t like?

That’s a great way to end up like everyone else.

– Dan Koe

Who Is Dan Koe?

I am a writer & brand advisor for 7-8 figure creators, influencers, and social media brands. I am obsessed with dissecting human potential, lifestyle design, and one-person businesses.

When You’re Ready, Here’s How I Can Help You:

The FOCI Planner

Goals are important. If you want help reverse engineering your vision into bite-size goals and tasks — order The FOCI Planner.

The Art Of Focus Book

Find meaning, reinvent yourself, and create your ideal future. Now available on Amazon.

The 2 Hour Writer

Implement Our 2 Hour Content Ecosystem To Learn High Impact Digital Writing, Boost Your Online Authority, & Systemize Content Creation For Rapid Growth

Mental Monetization

Monetize your creative work with a digital product that sells while you sleep. Turn your knowledge, skills, and interests into a meaningful income.