What do you do when money doesn’t motivate you?

a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way.

The one question most people hate answering in job interviews is “why do you want to work for us?” — because lets face it the answer is almost always “because I need money”. Unless you’re applying for your lifetime dream goal, most people apply for positions because it pays more than they currently earn (especially if you earn $0) and the money allows them to pay for living and if you’re lucky some luxuries.

My sister is a gym instructor and once took me through the different types of motivations you can use to get someone to do one extra squat. I don’t remember the names of them, but I remember her examples:

“If you do this squat today, tomorrow you’ll have a nice butt”

“If you do this squat today, you’ll be better than you were yesterday”

“If you quit, you’ll be disappointed in yourself”

“If you quit, I’ll be disappointed in you”

“If you do this, you’ll be proud of yourself”

“If you do this, I’ll be proud of you”

This list can go on and on, but the point is there’s motivation from internal sources, external sources, and everything in between. For some people money is a major motivation and sometimes the only motivation. This isn’t so for me. It’s a motivator in that yeah I need to pay my bills and feed myself, but I don’t need a car or designer clothing or anything like that.

It’s hard to find motivation in your job if earning lots of money doesn’t add to your job satisfaction. What then do you look for? And what do you do when your employees aren’t motivated by pay rises and bonuses? It might be shocking to some but for some of us we’re quite happy living as we currently do and we aren’t looking to ‘upgrade’ our lifestyle.

I find motivation in upskilling. I find motivation in positive feedback. I also find motivation in being asked for my opinion and having authority over a project. I’m motivated by making something from nothing and feeling engaged at work.

It’s definitely worth asking your employees what motivates them too.

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