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Why You Struggle To Make Money (and 7 Lessons To Change That)

Money is a problem.

Everyone knows it.

Nobody can escape the desire to hop on the latest “get rich quick” advice like winning stocks, shitcoins, and anything else that promises some quick cash.

It impacts the entirety of our lives.

  • The food we have access to
  • The environment we can live in
  • The people we can connect with
  • The amount of stress a situation will cause

And those all circle back, affecting our ability to make money in the first place.

Not to mention:

99% of people aren’t aware of what’s possible.

Since we were young, and with a blank slate of a mind, we’ve been filled with non-sense that we accept as fact.

It hurts to realize this, but the one thing holding you back from making as much money as you want is you.

  • Your thoughts shape your reality.
  • Your beliefs dictate how you perceive those thoughts.
  • Your perception determines how you act in the world.

If you don’t believe you can make a million bucks, will the sea of opportunities that you are swimming in even register in your awareness? Or will your perception prevent you from seeing what’s right in front of you?

None of this is easy, but who said it was supposed to be?

I’ll answer that for ya,

You.

The Stress Society

What causes stress?

Focus.

That is, where your attention is placed. The contents of your consciousness.

Is it split and narrow? Distracted? Hyper-focused on what’s happened, what’s going to happen, and what’s not happening?

Or is it singular and wide?

Are you seeing the tip of the iceberg? Or what’s underneath?

Survival. That’s what’s underneath.

Every. Single. Action you take is out of the need for survival.

Not physical survival like the old days.

I’m talking survival of the self.

What is the self? It’s an illusion.

Our mind started as a blank slate.

As we aged, we created the self with our mind.

You see, the self only exists when hundreds of thousands of external relationships are formed over time.

“My name is Dan” is a relationship between me and everyone I come across.

If no other “selves” existed, why in the world would I call myself “Dan”? Why would I need to speak a certain language? Or words at all?

If a specific religion, ideology, cultural norm, expectation, opinion, belief, bias, or word hadn’t registered in your awareness, would it even exist to you?

Think of the self as a bunch of tiny dots that form the shape of a human. Imagine that the dots are connected to strings.

What happens when one of those strings is plucked, gripped, or threatened?

Stress response. No matter how small (yet compounding).

Our attention is sucked back to more pressing matters. The survival of the self. An attempt to prevent the death of one string we’ve attached to our identity.

“Okay, Dan, cool story bro. How does this relate to making me some cold hard cash??”

You tell me…

What happens when you encounter an opportunity to make money?

I’ll tell you what most people do:

  • They misperceive the situation
  • They close their mind to seeing beyond what’s in front of them
  • They immediately label it as a “scam,” impossible, or not for them

A survival string is plucked and they shut down to preserve their programmed beliefs. If their beliefs around their ability to make money are threatened, they are threatened.

Think this leads anywhere beneficial?

Instead, you must pause, seek to understand every moving piece of the information you receive through observation.

“Yeah this guy Dan sells a 2 Hour Writer course.”

2 hours? Lol, you think you can just work for two hours and call it a day?

Writing? Creativity? You think that’s monetizable? Nobody can do what they love. Back to working for the boss that is doing what he loves!

(Nobody has said this, but I guarantee some random social media lurkers are thinking it. Eagerly awaiting their chance to leave a negative comment that serves their future in zero possible ways.)

This is an exaggeration, but can you not see how obvious it is? How people choose what they want to see, stop there, and fill in the rest of the story with assumptions.

Another example:

How does it make you feel when you have to talk about money? Or even when it’s brought up?

Which survival strings are threatened?

Is it uncomfortable? Do you get mad? Does it immediately make you think to the bill you have to pay when the paycheck deposits on Friday?

Dive deeper. Consider the possibility. Think critically.

Money buys freedom in the external world.

Spirituality returns freedom in the internal world.

We will discuss survival again under a different lens, because life is more than just money, of course.

But for a majority of the population, money would decrease the amount of stress they experience by ~80%.

Solving your money problems opens up room for relaxation, creativity, and solving the deeper, internal problems that lead to true happiness.

And… it just feels good to fend for yourself, but why?

The molecule of More, dopamine, rewards you like it did our ancestors when they had to hunt.

Like how a monkey will get a dopamine response when a light bulb goes off (that signals it will get food) rather than no dopamine response when it gets the same food at the same time.

Our psyche is wired for entrepreneurship.

That is, our psyche is wired to be rewarded for the novelty, anticipation, and unpredictability that comes from hunting for our survival. That is how you leverage dopamine in a useful way

7 Practical Money Lessons That Will Make You [infinite]X More Than A College Degree

Abstractions on survival are fun to talk about, they help with self-understanding, but how do you implement those teachings?

By holding them in your awareness as you improve your money situation.

As you go through these lessons, notice when you feel a negative thought, emotion, or feeling come into your awareness. Question it.

1) The Man In The Arena

Making money is a skill, not a talent.

Skills are refined with practice.

How do you practice making money?

Well, it’s not like a sport where you can get a few of your buddies and still reach the end goal: scoring a point.

With money, you have to step into the arena.

The exchange of money is not a battle, but if you don’t have an “opponent” (that has money to give) on the other side of the arena, you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.

Nobody to give you money = no real-world use of your skills = no money being put in your pockets.

It is not, and should not, just appear out of thin air and into your bank account. Your psyche is wired to hunt. Not to be a monkey collecting bananas in his virtual banana stash with zero effort.

This is why so many have money problems. They love talking about money, especially in a negative light, but when it comes time to make more? Crickets. That would mean they have to do something uncomfortable. Criticism is the loudest from the bleachers. Booooo!

Studying courses on how to make money is not making money.

Building a product, website, or app to make money is not making money.

You have to build, and sell.

2) Open Your Mind

People are slaves to money because they believe they are incapable of making more.

“I didn’t go to college, I can’t get a high paying job.”

“Writing? Don’t you have to be like a poet to do that?

“Lol you think that guy really hit $100K this month? What’s the profit? Either way, I’m going to go with… scam!”

People will feed themselves a self-limiting story that narrows their perception to the point of not seeing the infinite opportunities staring them in the face (your phone). Being broke becomes their reality, and their actions follow.

3) Fundamentals Are King

In business, you need 2 things:

  1. Value: A product or service that promises a desirable result (and delivers on that promise).
  2. People: Well, this is obvious, but often glanced over. You need people to see the value you have to offer if you want to exchange it for money.

Like with dating.

If you are valuable, attention-grabbing, and deliver on the value you display but aren’t in an environment with ample people… how can you expect to land a date?

If you are in an environment (physical or digital) with ample people, but aren’t a person of value… same story.

If you were to apply the fundamentals to the online landscape, people come from media, just like you’re reading this media right now.

Media is the frontend of the internet. It’s what captures, holds, and delivers value on attention.

Writing, speaking, video, audio, design.

I prefer writing, as it helps you refine your message before you repurpose it for other mediums. Like how this letter will be used as a soft YouTube script.

If you want to learn an evergreen skill for the digital economy and implement my content ecosystem, check out The 2 Hour Writer.

Media attracts people, but how do you create, display, and promote the value you have to offer?

Marketing, sales, influence, persuasion, and building with no-code tools.

By learning a skill that will help you succeed in either domain (people or value), your skills crossover and complement each other. Especially if you are in the online “arena” with a personal brand.

Touching back to “opening your mind,” skill acquisition is one way to aid in that.

4) The One Person Business

The internet has leveled the playing field for what’s possible.

The one-person business is all about maximizing your time freedom, doing what you truly enjoy, and making more than enough money doing it.

I believe this is the best option for 99% of people. Not dreaming of starting a billion-dollar behemoth of a company and never doing anything about it.

It’s all about small steps, personal growth, and providing as much value as you can.

Here’s how you go about it:

Start a service business.

If you can’t leverage money or an audience to send people to a product. Start with a service.

Why?

Because you can cold email, cold DM, or create a strategy to get in front of more people on social media.

And, because it is easier (yes, easier) to sell a more expensive service with direct response marketing, sales, and a proper cold outreach strategy.

Now, would you be able to create an income for yourself in a few months by trying to sell a low cost product in the DMs?

No, you need more money, results, and authority before you can sell a product through your brand.

But with the right strategy, you can land 4+ $2500 clients through DMs and email alone.

Build an audience on the side.

You don’t want to be sending cold DMs forever. It only makes sense to build leverage in the form of an audience.

What do you talk about? Actionable advice related to the service you are selling.

If you sell health coaching, talk about health.

If you sell marketing services, talk about marketing.

If you sell accounting services, talk about money.

This will establish authority, put you on the radar of hundreds of thousands of people, and expand your network.

Think about it, you don’t only have direct access to your audience, you have indirect access to every audience of people that follow you.

Take a moment to think about that. It’s actually nuts.

Productize once you have results.

Now that we’ve gotten results for our clients and built an audience talking about our expertise, it’s time to productize.

Create a product with the exact system and actions you take with your service business on a daily basis.

You can use your client testimonials for initial social proof during your launch.

This letter is already getting very long, so I’m going to leave the one-person business for an entirely separate letter.

If you want 180+ strategies, trainings, and step-by-step roadmaps for building a one-person business (and high-performance mind), check out Modern Mastery. Readers can join for $5.

5) Think Big, Act Small

Opening your mind to the potential of being rich is the first step to becoming rich.

Riches demand a balance of creativity and productivity.

Creativity demands an open mind and meta-perspective.

Productivity demands a clear mind and narrow focus.

Creativity is like you are floating in space. The stars are ideas that register in your awareness. Profitable solutions are created when you create constellations, connections between the stars.

Productivity is like you’re on a rocket ship to the moon. There is no thought. It is calculated, planned, and foolproof. You cut through the air and arrive at your destination in record time… because the outcome was already decided.

Creativity is about connection, productivity is about clarity.

Schedule dedicated time for both.

You can use my Fill Empty Use framework to find your own balance.

6) Increase Baseline Income, Maintain Baseline Lifestyle

In solopreneurship, everything is unpredictable. (This is a good thing)

Sure, you can create a membership or other recurring monthly offer that can create some stability… but the point is, you will have both high and low months.

I hit my first $100K month last week.

I’m not going to hit that this month unless I actively try, but I need to rest.

That being said, hitting $100K means that my baseline has increased.

This seems to always happen after a period of tactical stress.

I will force myself to launch a product or promotion, make it public, and have to get it done or else I would be a public failure.

I’ve done this once a year, and I would attribute a majority of my growth to it. Most people get stuck in dreamland and never publish the project they’ve been building.

That being said, lifestyle creep can be a real thing.

You’ll hit a high month, something you never could’ve imagined, and celebrate by making a big purchase.

Meaning, you increased your baseline lifestyle demands.

More stuff = more responsibility = more resources being utilized = less resources to go towards business = lower monthly income = difficulty sustaining that lifestyle.

If your lifestyle demands increases with your income, you’re not going to have a good time.

7) Leverage Your Time, Then Your Mind

Manual labor implies that there is a limit on how much you can work, meaning there is a limit on how much you can make.

The highest-paid earners are the strategists, visionaries, and innovators of the world.

Yes, even if they don’t start a billion-dollar company.

A $1M/year one-person business demands creativity, leverage, and productization.

My goal is to have products and digital real estate in place to the point where I can spend ALL of my time writing. No-code tools, automations, and social media handles the rest.

Unless you have ample cash flow to invest in audience growth or traffic acquisition (people) you’re going to have to spend time building that cash flow with a service business.

Once you’ve built digital leverage through audience growth, have gotten results with your service, and are ready to productize… that’s where the real fun begins.

Most people get stuck in the feast or famine client business because they don’t use their mind. They don’t realize the value of digital leverage, don’t grow, and spend their time in an endless cycle of cold DMs and emails.

Build an audience. Build an email list. Build a list of buyers.

That’s digital leverage. Once they’re big enough, build whatever you want.

That’s all for this letter.

If you enjoyed it, you’ll enjoy what happened this week off of surface-level social media (below).

Dan Koe

What Happened This Week

We’re still getting some incredible feedback from the 2 Hour Writer. People are growing from Instagram reels and TikToks with writing (yes, you read that correctly), writing incredible newsletters that build authority, and having a content ecosystem that separates you from the sea of new creators.

Check out 2HW here.

Inside Modern Mastery we had a brand workshop. We broke down Based Realists profile, threw in some profile design education for getting maximum followers, and answered questions.

Joey posted the Creator Tech Stack going over the best software to start your one-person creator business (if you’re looking to break into this space).

Readers can get access to both (and more) for $5 here.

As always, YouTube will be up later. Podcast is starting back up soon. Keep an eye on those if you’re interested.

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Dan Koe

Who Is Dan Koe?

I am a writer & brand advisor for 6-7 figure creators. I am obsessed with dissecting human potential, lifestyle design, and one-person businesses.

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