Ondrej Markus

Entrepreneur in ed-tech, building the future of education as a founder and CEO at Playful.

I write about the future of education, designing learning games, and running a startup.

I'm a generalist, introvert, gamer, and optimizing to be useful.

stickman sitting at a desk

Leverage your money-making potential

How to live more intentionally without worrying about money.

Leverage your money-making potential

Today, I want to talk about a concept that helps me sleep well even when my savings are running low.

Understand your potential

First, let’s pin down what exactly I mean by the money-making potential.

Your potential is what you know you could be doing but are not doing right now.

For example, let’s say you are good at programming but decide not to work for the next three months so you can travel and regain perspective in life. You can do this because:

  1. You have at least some savings to afford to skip on having an income for some time.
  2. You know your programming skills are valuable on the market so you can find a high-paying software engineer job anytime you want. This one defines your money-making potential.

As a result, your money-making potential gives you the freedom to do whatever you want without constantly worrying about money.

Easier said than done, I know.

Why is this difficult to do?

Money makes you feel safe

The primary function of money is security. Having enough money makes us feel safe in life because it enables us to get what we want whenever we want.

But even once we reach a level of prosperity where we could stop worrying about money and actually use our resources to live the life we want, we often don’t do it.


Because survival instincts remain deeply rooted in our brains. The caveman habits that helped us survive in times of scarcity are acting out whenever we feel uncertain about ourselves. (Which is somewhere between half the time to all of the time.)

It’s the fear of: “I don’t know when will be the next opportunity to get more, so I should get as much as I can right now."

It’s the same instinct that’s telling us to eat the whole chocolate right now because who knows when there’s gonna be the next chance to have more.

Eat chocolate or we die

Eat chocolate or we die

Even though we rationally know we could buy kilograms of chocolate at literally any time we want, our brain is programmed to play it safe.

And it works the same with money.

Make money or we die

Make money or we die

The goal of managing our resources well is to live the life we want right now. And our money-making potential is a resource we forget to use. As a result, we oftentimes play life needlessly safe.

How can we fix this?

Skills create more security than money

Everyone needs some level of security and stability in life to function without constant worry and anxiety.

Money is one source of security, but your skills are a better long-term source of security than money.

Skills, know-how, and your network of people increase your money-making potential which can create a more robust feeling of safety than money in your bank account.

Money can be lost. But your money-making abilities stay with you.

In my life, the fact that I could get a high-paying designer job is why I can sleep peacefully despite not having a lot in my bank account at the moment because I am funding my writing work-life for the last 9 months.

The money exists as an easy-to-access potential. I know I could get them because I’ve done it before. I had that job. I made that amount of money. So when I know I could do it, I don’t have to until I really need it.

Once your money-making potential is high enough, your options are wide open. You just need to realize you have the potential and use it. You can take more risks because your skills (potential) will always be there as a safety net to catch you if you fall.

That’s why it’s a good idea to prioritize opportunities to develop valuable skills over making more money.

Prioritize skills over money.

Prioritize skills over money.

Find a balance that works for you

This will probably be the most frequent phrase on this blog but it needs repeating: People are different.

Your needs and preferences for risk-taking and how much money feels like “enough” to feel safe might differ a lot from mine. Having no income while you burn your savings might feel impossibly uncomfortable to you.

That’s okay.

Good resource management is about finding a balance that works for you. Because however great your potential is, you still need to translate it into money at the right time and amounts.

Sadly, we can’t buy stuff with our potential.

Potentiality coupons

Potentiality coupons

Create space for leaps of faith

The idea behind the concept of leveraging your money-making potential is not necessarily about going nuts for a year to try bootstrapping whatever wild experiment you are excited about.

It’s about realizing you have valuable skills you can use to take more risks because you can always come back from failure. Your potential creates a safety space for leaps of faith you need to search for the next thing you want to do in life:

I mean, even if I decided to run my savings down to zero (which I don’t recommend doing except maybe once), and finding a high-paying job would prove harder than I expected, I could always make enough money by doing random “unskilled” jobs I found through some app. I could bounce back from anything and so could you.

So there is no real risk in playing the game boldly. Leverage your money-making potential to take leaps of faith while sleeping peacefully because you know that once you need to make more money, you can.