20 Things Besides Money That Can Motivate You

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If you search for the word motivation, you will get over 1 billion search results in about ½ second, but when you begin reading these articles, what you will find is a lot of empty promises and very little useful insight. This is not one of those pseudo-motivational articles that is just a list of tips. We are going to dive deep into the topic of motivation and what motivates you. 

Whether you are a business owner who is interested in motivating millennials, or you are a millennial yourself, this article will help you understand motivational topics in a new way.

Table of Contents

What is motivation?

Motivation is the reason why you do something or behave in a certain way. If you have ever caught yourself asking why a certain person does this or that, what you are really asking is what motivates them. Or as Simon Sinek would suggest, start with the ‘why’.

The basic assumption is that every behavior, whether helpful or harmful, has a reason behind it. There is some logic tree, regardless of how flawed it might be, behind the action or reaction.

Internal vs External Motivation

What motivates you? - intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation

Let’s discuss internal (intrinsic) vs external (extrinsic) motivation.

Intrinsic motivation definition: the act of being internally driven to achieve something. 

An example of an intrinsic motivator is something that makes you happy or that gives you an inner sense of achievement.

Extrinsic motivation definition: the behavior of being driven to achieve something by external rewards.

An example of extrinsic motivation is going to work so that you can get money.

Money and Rewards

The topic of money is a tricky one.

Actually, money itself is often not the motivator, it is the things that you can get or experiences that you want to have that are the real motivators behind money. You need money to get a new car. You also need money to go on vacation so that you can feel good. Money put in its proper perspective is a tool, a means to an end.

Money and rewards are solid motivators, but they don’t hold a candle to the power of intrinsic motivation. No one or no thing can take away what motivates you from the inside.

Does money ruin intrinsic motivation?

According to the theories of motivation, intrinsic motivators are more predictive of long-term behavioral change than those that are outside of us. When it comes to motivational topics, one has to ask, are any of us truly intrinsically motivated? How productive would you be if there were no monetary compensation involved? Truthfully, I only signed up for the Medium Partner Program because of the possibility of earning a little extra cash. But now that I see how the community of writers on Medium support each other, I’m motivated to help other writers and marketers improve and succeed through my content.

But do rewards or the potential of rewards ruin intrinsic motivation? Sometimes I wonder if the dependence or expectation of rewards can put water on the fire of internal motivation. If the intrinsic motivation is genuine, then it should be difficult to put out that fire to achieve that burns inside.

The answer is that you have to find what motivates you and work with it.

By no means am I suggesting that extrinsic motivators are bad. I think that most of us can admit that some external motivators are good for us. After all, most of the motivators listed below are noble extrinsic motivators.

20 Things (Other Than Money) That Can Motivate You

As I mentioned above, there are some excellent extrinsic motivators that you can use to drive you. Here are 20 things (other than money) that can motivate you to greatness.

Helping People

Being motivated to serve others is perhaps the most noble motivation.

Enlightenment / Spiritual Growth

You want to learn more about the purpose of your existence and how what you do impacts the world.

Improved Health and Fitness

Do you want to be happier about your physical appearance?

Approval from a Love Interest

Do you want to impress your crush with your performance?

Approval from Family or Friends

This can be tricky. When seeking approval from family or friends, determine if you are truly following your calling or passion. It would be a shame if you spent your life doing something that you didn’t truly love in order to impress or get approval from someone else. Everyone has a unique purpose to fulfill on this earth.


You simply want peace and comfort.

Reaching an Individual Goal

Working hard to reach an individual goal reminds me of the following quote.

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”Harriet Beecher Stow

Reaching a Team Goal

You want to see your team succeed. You love achieving things by working with others.

Individual Recognition (Being the Best)

Not only do you want to reach a goal, but you want to be considered the best by others.

Getting to Have Fun (Play)

I love the phrase “work hard, play hard.” Getting a little time to play is important for living a balanced life. Play rejuvenates you and gets you ready to do more.

Position / Rank

Are you motivated by climbing the ladder?

Mastery / Knowledge

Skill mastery can take you to the next level.


You get a rush from outworking and competing against others

Making History / Changing the World

You desire to make a mark and leave a legacy.

Breaking a Record

Do you want your name in the Guinness Book of World Records?

Proving Naysayers Wrong

You have a chip on your shoulder. You’re motivated by people saying that you can’t do something.

Avoiding Embarrassment

In a certain respect, success to you is based on what you think others think of you. 

Making God Happy

You know that your Creator sees all that you do. You want to hear, “Well done.”

A Few Notes About This List of Motivators

Building motivational skills depend on knowing which of these drivers are most important to you. 

Being motivated to serve others is the result of an others-first mindset and helps push the world forward, which is why it is listed first.

Thirdly, once you have your passion and are motivated to pursue it, you have to understand that there will be ups and downs along the way. You might be interested in this interview with Colin Stevens about having faith while facing adversity if you need a lift.

Finally, a quick note about desiring power and fame…power and fame are tied to money. Therefore, I can’t consider them non-monetary motivators.

Make a Life Goals Plan

Now that you know more about what motivates you, it is time to put a plan into action. The best time to do it is now. A 3x3x3 Life Goals Plan is an effective tool for knowing where you want to go and having a plan to get there. Here is how it works.

The 3x3x3 plan works on three life domains: spiritual, life, and work. It also focuses on three specific time frames: 1, 3, and 5 years. Then, it lists three specific goals to accomplish in each category with the first action for them.

Amazing things happen when you write your plans on paper. Start with the three time spans, then list each of the life domains under each category. Within each of these subcategories, you will write your three goals in each of them. 

Put your motivation into action by making a 3x3x3 Life Goals Plan.

In Conclusion

Understanding your personal motivation is the key to building the motivational skills that you need to achieve your goals. We all have some ideal of ourselves that does not match what we see today. Whether it is diet motivation, achievement motivation, or how to find motivation to workout, we all have something that we want to achieve to become that ideal self.

Take the list of motivators in this article, figure out what motivates you, and make an action plan. You won’t regret it.

About Chris Craft

Hi! I'm Chris(topher) Craft. I'm a believer, husband of an amazing woman (Wanda), and father of three talented kids (Naomi, Maria, and Elijah). I love writing, making music, learning about God's Hand in History, entrepreneurship, and basketball. Thank you for reading my stuff! ❤️ Connect with me on Twitter @CraftWrites.