Crossing the big goals off your bucket list can be daunting, but these quotes about working hard are going to give you the push you need to recommit. The positive psychology experts below will not only tell you what it takes to be successful but also how to be happy on the way there. And we know by now that happiness matters.
Turning your dreams into reality takes a combination of habit, happiness, passion, perseverance, and about a hundred other things—topics that, conveniently enough, we cover all the time around here. So these quotes about working hard to achieve goals run the gamut. Take note of the ones that speak to you and keep them where you can see them—on your mirror, in your phone, tattooed on your forearm, wherever you look frequently. You’ll get big reminders from big experts on the real stuff it takes to hit your goals—according to science, not self-help.
Got Goals? You Need These 17 Quotes about Working Hard
Let’s learn from the best researchers on what it takes to get things done and be happy while doing it. Their quotes about working hard and having fun will help you keep at it. No caffeine required.
On working hard + boosting productivity
2. “All of these people had character. None of [the star athletes] thought they were special people, born with the right to win. They were people who worked hard, who learned how to keep their focus under pressure, and who stretched beyond their ordinary abilities when they had to.”
—Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, in Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success
3. “Live (or work) in the moment. Instead of always thinking about what’s next on your to-do list, focus on the task or conversation at hand. You will become not only more productive but also more charismatic.”
—Emma Seppala, Science Director of the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, in The Happiness Track: How to Apply the Science of Happiness to Accelerate Your Success
4. “The productivity paradox is this: scheduling downtime actually makes you more productive. Don’t be a prisoner chained to your desk. Get up and take periodic breaks. The solution to that knotty problem will become clearer when you give your brain a chance to process it.”
—Margaret H. Greenberg, Master of Positive Psychology & Senia Maymin, PhD in Organizational Behavior, in Profit from the Positive
On relentless persistence
6. “People with authentic grit are renowned for setting hard—some would say unrealistic—goals. If the goals were easy, grit wouldn’t be called for. Because people with grit don’t go for easy, low-hanging fruit and have to work persistently for a long time to see success, their pursuit of tough goals, and often their success in achieving them, is what inspires other people to step out of their comfort zone, too.”
—Caroline Adams Miller, author, lecturer, and positive psychology coach, in Getting Grit
On building habits to keep moving forward…or to keep from moving backward
8. “Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.”
—Charles Duhigg, journalist and author in The Power of Habit
9. “People recognize that they’ve got to make an effort over time to become more skillful at driving a truck, running a department, or playing tennis. Yet it’s common to think that becoming more skillful with one’s own mind should somehow come naturally, without effort or learning. But because the mind is grounded in biology, in the physical realm, the same laws apply: the more you put in, the more you get back. To reap the rewards of practice, you need to do it, and keep doing it.”
—Rick Hanson, neuropsychologist, senior fellow at the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, in Just One Thing: Developing A Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time
10. “The acquisition of skills requires a regular environment, an adequate opportunity to practice, and rapid and unequivocal feedback about the correctness of thoughts and actions. When these conditions are fulfilled, skill eventually develops, and the intuitive judgments and choices that quickly come to mind will mostly be accurate. A marker of skilled performance is the ability to deal with vast amounts of information swiftly and efficiently.”
—Daniel Kahneman, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner, in Thinking, Fast and Slow
On well-being as a critical part of hard work and hard work itself
12. “The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen… Getting control of life is never easy, and sometimes it can be definitely painful. But in the long run, optimal experience add up to a sense of mastery—or perhaps better, a sense of participation in determining the content of life—that comes as close to what is usually meant by happiness as anything else we can conceivably imagine.”
—Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor of psychology at Claremont Graduate University, in Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience
On what happiness has to do with working hard
14. “Being a hard worker, or a high achiever, is not synonymous with being a rat racer; there are supremely happy people who work long hours and dedicate themselves to their schoolwork or to their profession. What differentiates rat racers is their inability to enjoy what they are doing—and their delusion that once they reach a certain destination, they will be happy.”
—Tal Ben-Shahar, lecturer at Harvard University, in Happier: Learn the Secrets to Daily Joy and Lasting Fulfillment
15. “You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, author in Eat, Pray, Love*
(*Sonja Lyubomirsky quotes Gilbert in The Happiness Advantage, so we’re letting it slide that one of our quotes about working hard isn’t from a researcher.)
16. “When we inject people with positivity, their outlook expands. They see the big picture. When we inject them with neutrality or negativity, their peripheral vision shrinks. There is no big picture, no dots to connect.”
—Barbara Fredrickson, Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive
17. “Authentic happiness derives from raising the bar for yourself, not rating yourself against others.”
—Martin E.P. Seligman, founder of positive psychology, in Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment
Working hard is hard work—but it’s worth it
There are plenty of ways to keep your motivation going as you work toward your goals. But remember that enjoying the process—even the stumbles—and celebrating your life exactly where are you are is just as important. We hope these 17 quotes about working hard added some fuel to your fire or just shifted your perspective on what success means and how to get there. Want more expert insights on doing the work and enjoying the journey? Grab the books and dive in. Happy hard-working.
Your turn: Which of these quotes about working hard had the strongest effect on you? Let us know in the comments.
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Author: Nadia Chaudhry
Nadia Chaudhry is an SEO copywriter and content marketer. She’s all about growth in business and life. No surprise, she loves to write about personal development, productivity, e-commerce, and marketing. But first, pilates. Follow her on Twitter @NadiaChaudhry.