How to Make Money Without Selling Your Soul


A while back I wrote about finding purpose, but that concept feels airy-fairy when we don’t acknowledge the realities of capitalism. Personally, I want to learn how to make money without selling out. And recently, I stumbled upon a key to solving this puzzle . . .  

I spent the last few months exploring practical ways of manifesting money. The idea is that generating multiple streams of income can support my present standard of living. And that’s true, in theory. But I encountered some issues with this approach to making money when I try to apply it in real life. I’ll get into that more in a moment. 

Part of me cringes at writing an update that challenges what I wrote before. What if I appear flighty and inconsistent!? Well, alas, I think that is part of this human experience. I’m winging it here as I move through life. I don’t have a manual. I’m doing my best to figure this whole life thing out. The money game is one aspect of reality that I’m focused on this year. 

My personal story about making money while trying to live authentically:

I do have a job, and I am very good at supporting my clients. What I’m not so good at is all the other aspects of business, the development and marketing and networking and blah blah . . . see, I fade out even thinking about it. So while I might spend four hours supporting one client in a day, I won’t spend another four hours working on generating more clients. As a result, my business provides enough to pay my bills, but I’m not crushing it. 

To make it feel worse, I troll myself . . .You’re not doing this well enough. You could make a better effort. Why don’t you call every client you’ve ever had and check in with them. And while you’re at it, look at your messy house, when are you going to clean it? The basement is a disaster. You could call clients while cleaning. And you haven’t cooked a proper dinner in a while, maybe go buy some vegetables and chop them and cook something decent for yourself and your family . . . 

And then the haunting begins, the visit from The Ghost of the Meaning of It All. He appears in my kitchen while I’m chopping the vegetables (because I’m avoiding work and cleaning by doing groceries) and suddenly there’s this big *thump* and *boom* and all this purple smoke and he whispers in a voice that is simultaneously sinister and gentle that the novel I’m writing is still half finished and I’m not getting any younger and that cleaning and running the family business are not my calling in life (how the F does he know??).

So this is where things get tricky. Is it really possible to get paid for doing what you love to do? How can we do what really nourishes us (which is not necessarily our day job, or even chopping vegetables) and still support ourselves in this present day reality? How can we thrive AND find our purpose AND also have steady income for the house and car and organic food and even some leisurely travel?

Just as I’m pondering these big questions I get a well-crafted marketing email from an amazing local yoga teacher. This guy goes WAY beyond the mat. So the next thing I know I’m attending this brilliant free webinar about magnetism in business and how that relates to dharma. And lo and behold, I stumble upon this ridiculously important factor in all of this that I wasn’t considering!

There are only so many hours in a day.

That seems obvious, and most of us feel the impact of this truth, well, every single day. Duh. But there’s more to this than just stating the obvious. Let me rephrase it, and the powerful implication is easier to see. 

We only have so much life force.

Call it whatever you like: life force, prana, qi, vitality, etc . . . but everything we tend to in our lives depends on this energy. (And although there are ways of generating more life force, that’s a whole separate topic.)

So here’s the problem with the model of generating multiple sources of income. It might work well if almost all of them are passive income. But trying to create multiple ways of making money creates a situation when nothing is getting enough life force to really thrive.

My garden is a perfect visual example of this phenomenon. Here it is:

Photo of garden: focus your energy to have better results

The first 15% or so is lovely. There are flowers blooming in a splendid rainbow of colors, a lush magnolia tree, and a fabulous strawberry patch. But further up the hill, the irrigation is disconnected, and the plum tree just died. The blackberries are taking over, and the chickens are somehow escaping their yard despite the 7 foot fence and uprooting the kiwi vines. 

The state of my garden represents the state of many of my money making endeavors over the past few years. My business looks like my garden. I take excellent care of the few clients I have, but a new client might not develop into a lasting relationship, and the rest of the business potential is just blackberry brambles (which actually have mysterious things to teach us). Likewise, my goal to achieve mastery in poker is also running at about 15% capacity (the world shutting down from the pandemic didn’t help), I’m still a winning poker player but there’s not enough time to devote to the game to really become extraordinary at it. 

Most troubling to me is that my novel is only partially written, I have half a rough draft. It’s also something beautiful, and then a whole lot of untapped potential. 

So, what to do about all of this? How can I bring these ideas together and figure out how to make money without giving up all the things that matter to me? 

I’m starting to realize that the times that I feel really excited about an idea, that excitement and inspiration might come from the fact that I’m actually writing. I love writing. It’s when I feel the most aligned. The hours just fly by, and there’s a feeling of flow and ease and accomplishment that I don’t get from anything else. 

I’m setting a goal this year to take all the projects in my life, and re-shuffle my priorities. The idea is to focus energy on what is most meaningful.

For me, that is writing, relationships, and also my business because it presently supports me. That means I will have to demote some projects into mere “hobbies”, such as my poker ambitions, despite having high hopes for them and having invested loads of time and energy. (It’s funny, but I have a disdain for hobbies because I want to be brilliant at everything I do and “hobby” just feels so half-assed.) I will delegate tasks such as housekeeping and gardening. As much as I love being in the garden, I have to accept that I’m not building an organic permaculture farm this year.

The intention is to focus my energy so that my writing can eventually become a source of income for me, while still tending to the business that I’ve built over the past ten years. I also suspect that by not pursuing multiple new projects, I will have more success in the few realms that I do concentrate on. 

For most of my adult life, I’ve done the “multiple streams of income” method. And while I do consider myself to be fairly successful at it, there’s also been this feeling that I’m not quite living up to my potential. So I’m bending the knee here somewhat and practicing being humble and trying something different for the first time in my life.

For those of you who have read my articles and are aware of my journey, thank you for witnessing all the twists and turns. May your path in life be full of adventure and awe inspiring moments of illumination.