Quotes That Helped Me (Hard Work Edition)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about hard work recently, putting in the hours, motivation, effort, and all of those sorts of things. I’ve always been someone who’s constantly working on something and that’s gotten worse during the pandemic, to the point where I feel guilty if I’m not working (I’m aware of how unhealthy that is and I’m working on it in therapy). I think that’s the new toxic positivity (not that that’s gone), the new idea that’s posed as good but when taken too far is actually really damaging: toxic productivity. I mean, I can see where it came from: telling people that working hard will get them further in life than hoping they’ll get lucky or whatever isn’t inherently bad but when you have famous or notable people saying that they never took a day off or are advising people to never let up… it’s well intentioned but it can sink into the brain and become something dangerous and unhealthy. It can create a mindset that sees valuable fun and relaxation and decompression time as a waste when it’s not only necessary for our health but can have beneficial and important results, like helping us to better regulate our emotions or inspire bright and shiny new ideas.

So I’ve tried to put together a collection of quotes that are about working hard but don’t encourage that work-yourself-to-the-edge-of-mental-stability mentality. At least that’s what I hope I’ve done. Hopefully they’re as helpful and inspiring to you as they have been for me.


“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama

“It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

“Luck is great, but most of life is hard work.” – Iain Duncan Smith

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Saint Francis

“The level path is easy, but it will not bring you to the mountaintop.” – Dr. Idel Dreimer

“Dreams don’t work unless you do.” – John C. Maxwell

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele

“Let us remember then that we were made to do hard things, not easy, for if we do nothing but what is easy we will not go forward; then, as there is no standing still in the universe, we will degenerate, so that by doing something a little harder each time we prepare ourselves against something really hard.” – The Agricultural Journal

“Never slow down for the world, one day it will catch up with you.” – Nike

“If you can’t outplay them, outwork them.” – Ben Hogan

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Stay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm, and genuine people.” – Tena Desae

“Sometimes in life you have an appointment with destiny, and sometimes you just have to get destiny to squeeze you in.” – Robert Brault

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” – Oprah Winfrey

“Don’t work for recognition but do work worthy of recognition.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” – Charles F. Kettering

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” – Paulo Coelho

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” – Sam Ewing

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Napoleon Hill

“It’s not about money or connections – it’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone.” – Mark Cuban (I think, particularly in some industries, money and connections absolutely determine a level of success but overall, in the long run, hard work and learning everything you can will get you further in life and make your achievements all the more satisfying.)

“Inspiration is the windfall from hard work and focus. Muses are too unreliable to keep on the payroll.” – Helen Hanson

“To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing.” – Eva Young

“If you make something you love, you should just put it out into the world.” – Taylor Swift


I’m not gonna lie, I love being productive: I love working through a list, ticking things off, feeling like I’ve accomplished things at the end of every day, but I’m also aware that while this urge to be productive can be helpful, it can border on pretty unhealthy. As I said, I’m working on it. Productivity can be (and should be) beneficial in our lives, not a tightrope we walk where we’re trying not to fall into unhealthy habits. Hopefully these quotes reflect that perspective rather than a toxic one.

What about you guys? What quotes do you use to motivate yourself? Please throw them in the comments!

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