Why Money Is Not a Good Motivator | Jobs In ME
Read the Hire Local Blog

Why Money Is Not a Good Motivator

By Diane Dunton

With so many people unemployed and underemployed, should money be a motivator when it comes to finding a career? Real life, inspiring examples of community and the intrinsic values that motivate all of us tell the answer.

Take for example, Bill Nemitz's interview with Maxwell Chikuta, whose moving success story weaves a tale of triumph and overcoming all odds without an ounce of bitterness. Instead, not only does he pursue advanced college degrees and work to support his family, he cherishes his communities and gives back in abundance. His motivation is not about making money.

Driven by Emotion

When I first meet a new client who is out of work for any number of reasons, I will ask the question, "What motivates you?" or "What are you seeking?" In the initial weeks after losing their job, many job seekers are concerned (and rightfully so) about money. So their initial response is: "I need money. I have enough for a while, but I need such and such."

As my relationship with that client grows and we begin reaching a deeper level of their motivation, money is put on the back burner. Recent research points to the fact that emotional commitment is the motivator for most of us. That emotional commitment is driven by our feelings, our relationships and our values.

It's Not About Money

Daniel Pink, in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, writes about how autonomy, mastery and purpose drive our motivation. Job seekers can use this understanding in conducting their job search.

  • Autonomy is the urge to direct our own lives
  • Mastery is the drive to get better and better at something that matters
  • Purpose for job seekers is ultimately getting re-employed

During your job search, seek to fulfill these intrinsic motivators rather than the extrinsic motivator, money.

What Can We Take from This?

As a job seeker, reflect on your motivators. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the community I want to be part of?
  • What do I want to be able to accomplish in a job?
  • Will I have a purpose in what I am accomplishing?

Money is a consideration, but it can't be the ultimate decision-maker in choosing what job, company and/or community to join. It goes much deeper than that.


Diane L. Dunton M.S., president of Potential Released Consulting Services since 1996, has over 25 years of business and HR experience. Diane has received specialized training with National Training Labs, the Gestalt Institute, Center for Creative Leadership, the University of Michigan's Organizational Career Development and the Center for Reengineering Leadership programs. She has developed programs for over 25,000 employees and leads more than 20 workshops annually offering executive coaching, professional individual coaching and programs on leadership and strategic planning. She has appeared before conferences of up to 9,000 participants and her work has appeared in both U.K. and U.S. management publications, including the Society for Training and Development's Team and Organizational Development Sourcebooks (2003-2006).Learn more about Diane at PotentialReleased.com.