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17 Quotes to Motivate You at Work

Staying motivated at work can be difficult. The distractions are many, and even when the passion is there, work can feel exhausting when there isn’t enough time or resources to get everything done. But what if the key to staying motivated isn’t to just grin and get through it, but to dig deeper and remember the reason why you’re doing that work in the first place?

The five-day, 40-hour workweek hasn’t actually been the standard for that long: During the Great Depression in the early 1930s, President Herbert Hoover called for a reduction in labor to avoid mass layoffs nationwide. Then, in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act, formally establishing a five-day, 40-hour workweek. The problem is that even though technology has become more advanced in the decades since, employees continue to work the same, if not longer, hours, with boredom or burnout being the inevitable byproducts.

But distraction and depletion don’t have to be the norm. Every person has loads to contribute to the greater good, even if individual tasks can seem small. And sometimes, remembering the bigger picture can pull us out of work-related ruts. These 17 quotes are meant to inspire you to stay focused and enthusiastic, and keep going even when the going gets tough.


Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
— Thomas Jefferson

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
— Confucius

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.
— Stephen King

Whenever I feel bad, I use that feeling to motivate me to work harder. I only allow myself one day to feel sorry for myself. When I’m not feeling my best, I ask myself, “What are you gonna do about it?” I use the negativity to fuel the transformation into a better me.
— Beyoncé Knowles

The future depends on what you do today.
— Mahatma Gandhi

Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.
— Michelle Obama

Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
— Robert Louis Stevenson

Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now.
— Margaret Fuller

Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
— Martin Luther King Jr.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.
— Unknown (often attributed to Mark Twain or Agatha Christie)

It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.
— Bruce Lee

Dreams are lovely but they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.
— Shonda Rhimes

Do not whine … do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone.
— Joan Didion

You’re going to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.
— George Lorimer

When someone tells me “no,” it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.
— Karen E. Quinones Miller

Never allow a person to say no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.
— Eleanor Roosevelt

Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.
— Yoda

Photo credit: Scott Webb/ Unsplash

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About the Author
Joyce Chen
Joyce Chen is a writer, editor, and community builder based in Seattle, Washington.
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What philosopher said, "The best friend is he that, when he wishes a person's good, wishes it for that person's own sake"?

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