Motivational work quotes to help inspire a career switch, shift perspective, encourage perseverance, or simply provide relief when you’re having a tough day.

By Sharon Feiereisen
Updated October 23, 2019
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Credit: Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Groundhog day every day is no way to live, but calling quits on your 9 to 5 and pursuing your Shark Tank dream is probably not an alternative either–at least not in the short-term. Even if you're lucky enough to actually love your job, not every day is easy. We all deal with email overload, egregious mistakes, painful oversights, regretful decisions, and good old fashioned fears and anxiety. How we respond to the good, as well as the bad, can tremendously impact both long- and short-term career paths.

There are some obvious sources when looking for work-related wisdom—like Oprah or Jeff Bezos—but you’d be surprised at how much insight can be culled from reading up on thought leaders long gone (we’re talking really long gone). Some of the below inspirational work quotes are funny, some are insightful, and some might seem to be stating the obvious, but they’re all important and powerful reminders that our thoughts can impact our work life just as much as our actions.

Jot down your favorite motivational quotes for work on your phone, write them on a sticky note, save them to your Instagram or Pinterest feed, or screenshot them so you can easily access the perfect quote when you need some inspiration. These sayings might be just what you need to keep you from snapping at your coworker, crying over yet another failed pitch, or caving to your anxieties when nothing seems to be falling into place.

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“If you decide that you’re going to do only the things you know are going to work, you’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table.”

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

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“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

Michael Jordan, basketball player

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“There is only one way to avoid criticism. Do nothing. Be nothing. Say nothing.”

Aristotle, philosopher

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“If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.”

Simon Sinek, author

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“I would visualize things coming to me. It would just make me feel better. Visualization works if you work hard. That’s the thing. You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

Jim Carrey, actor

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“Don’t be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Don’t let others discourage you or tell you that you can’t do it. In my day I was told women didn’t go into chemistry. I saw no reason why we couldn’t.”

Gertrude B. Elion, biochemist and Nobel Prize winner

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“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

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“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”

William James, philosopher

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“I was raised to believe that excellence is the best deterrent to racism and sexism. And that's how I operate my life."

Oprah, media mogul

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“Find something you love to do. If you don’t make money at it, at least you love going to work.”

Mark Cuban, businessman and investor

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“I believe anyone can conquer fear by doing the things he fears to do, provided he keeps doing them until he gets a record of successful experience behind him.”

Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States

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“You can have unbelievable intelligence, you can have connections, you can have opportunities fall out of the sky. But in the end, hard work is the true, enduring characteristic of successful people.”

Marsha Evans, retired rear admiral in the United States Navy

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“The fact is, people who base their self-worth on being right about everything prevent themselves from learning from their mistakes. They lack the ability to take on new perspectives and empathize with others. They close themselves off to new and important information.”

—Mark Manson, writer of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck ($13;