Can You Succeed Without Being Motivated By Money?

motivated-by-moneyThis is a thought I had lately, mostly because I’m not always motivated or excited by money myself. I definitely don’t think that money itself motivates me to do my best work, either. I’ve thought about this on many occasions, but what me me think about it most was when I received the largest paycheck of my life last week – and felt almost no emotion or excitement. Perhaps it was because I knew I’d have to split it up to pay for various different things and fund different accounts, or that this one paycheck is just a drop in the bucket compared to what I really need to earn and save to enjoy the life I want. But I still think the idea of receiving money just doesn’t do it for me.

I’m really more motivated by the things that money brings, which results in some sort of delayed gratification with getting paid. I know that by saving my money I’ll be able to travel more and do the things I love, but I’m most excited only when those things are planned and actually happen and not when I’m earning the money to do them.

I wouldn’t say that I’m unmotivated in general. I manage my time around work because I’m committed to the projects that I take on. I’m also motivated in my work by:

– The idea of being able to work wherever I want

– Having the opportunity to work on projects that get me excited

Not feeling like I’m tied down to anywhere

– Just about everything on my bucket list

This may or may not be true, but I feel like a good portion of entrepreneurs are motivated by money (or at least the ones that are successful). At the same time, I see entrepreneurs out there that genuinely want to help others. Perhaps their financial success is somewhat of a byproduct of making others’ lives better, but many of them seem to be pulling in more than enough money to have an amazing life for themselves. Will I be able to “make it” and earn enough money to live if I’m not motivated by money myself?

Here are my questions for you:

Does money motivate you? If not, what does?

Do you think being motivated by money is essential for entrepreneurs or just success, in general?

Let me know what you think in the comments!

$ $ $ $

photo by: kerenrichter


  1. I think money is a powerful motivator. It’s the medium of exchange that can afford us the lifetyle we aspire to. Even the most philanthropic entrepreneurs ultimately want to build wealth for others. 
    But, I think friendship, family, community, health, and other things, are also powerful motivators.

  2. Unfortunately, money plays a much larger role in the world (and my life) than I would like. I’ve always been a bit of a ‘boho’ kind of person, so have never valued money as much as my friends etc, but the fact that so much of what I want to do, and achieve is often based on money often infuriates me.

    You see, I have this friend who has a similar philosophy to my own, but he takes it to the extreme, and has just come back from a 6 month trip to Europe, with NO money. He was squatting, selling artwork on the street, and sometimes eating in homeless shelters.

    Maybe the world should be more like that? lol.

    • I always wonder if money plays too big of a role. I often feel that it does for those that create a “typical” American life. I’ve always considered finding the alternatives, but it’s tough to see the path to success when so many others are on a different track.

  3. Talk to almost any really good teacher worth thier salt and u will find Money does not motivate them. Even if they grumble about not being paid enough, still they show up every August excited about their job.

  4. Money is not a primary motivation for me personally. 

    Unfortunately, to do what I want to do (help people break down barriers that prevent them from living their ideal life, donate to charities, and donate my time to building a positive impact on the world) I need money. And the more I earn, the more influence I have and the more resources I have to make that positive change that I want to see.I actually just wrote a piece about this. Being motivated by money is okay if you’re going to do great things with your assets. Being motivated by money because you want to buy 40 pairs of Gucci sunglasses and a 60ft yacht is *not* something I’d recommend. That type of motivation is hollow, fleeting, and essentially worthless. =(

    So, money is not the problem, in my opinion, the problem is *why* you want to earn the money! 

    • I agree, it’s not necessarily bad to be motivated by money, and there are a lot of great you things you can do with money, too. Perhaps I should think about what great things I can do for others by earning more money, like donating to charity. Thanks for the idea!

  5. I think to an extent money can be a good motivator.  Beyond a point, it will cease to be one.  What motivated Bill Gates to fight his taxes?! 

  6. I love the video on Youtube for Dan Pink’s book Drive.  He took the concept of what motivates us and found much like you that money wasn’t the solution.  It works to a certain extent, but the real motivation is much deeper.

    Thanks for the reminder,


  7. Hi Jeffrey,
    I liked your post; we have a similar outlook on money and being motivated by it. It doesn’t do much for me and I’d highly recommend reading Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us by Dan Pink if you’ve not already done so. As scientists have now proven money not only demotivates once basic needs are met but it also reduces creativity, performance and, most surprising of all, success.
    I care about doing something useful and that’s how I’d like to orientate my life. You’re right to observe the social entrepreneurs as they are doing things that mean a great deal to them and others. Money is just a by-product of their success but it isn’t the success or motivation itself.
    Good luck on your quest.

Speak Your Mind


Read previous post:
Taking Side Work Beyond 40 Hours a Week

As many of you know, I still have a full-time job where I work the typical 9-5. While I think...