Quotes to Keep You Moving in Your Career

It’s easy to let our dreams for the future remain just dreams. After all, there is so much that needs our attention today that it’s challenging to even consider what we should be doing for tomorrow. However, while there is certainly value in getting today’s ‘to do’ list crossed off, if you want something different in your future, you have to start doing something different now. Are you hoping for a promotion? Considering changing jobs/careers, or getting an advanced degree? It’s tempting to put it off, but the truth is if you don’t start giving some time and attention to your goals now, you may never reach them. We all need a little motivation from time to time, so we’ve compiled some quotes about career goals from successful, smart people to help you get started. 

  • “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” (Milton Berle)

You probably have people in your life (friends, family, coworkers, supervisors, etc.) that support and encourage you, but even your most ardent fan isn’t going to do your work for you. If you are quietly getting your job done and silently hoping to be recognized, you may be waiting a long time, or perhaps have already been passed over for the promotion or shift change you wanted. You have to make your accomplishments happen: you’ve got to be the one to put in the extra time and effort; you have to advocate for yourself, and showcase your qualifications. No one is going to put a new job in your lap – you have to go out there and get it.


  • “The future depends on what you do today.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

And what have you done today?  Did you just make it through, or did you invest in the future? Ultimately, in order to move on, you may have to start with some self improvement, like reading a book about leadership, getting a new certification, or taking a course on business management. You can start small and slip it into your already busy schedule. For example “today I will sign up for some continuing education, and tomorrow I will read a chapter of a self-improvement book.”


  • “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” (Stephen Covey)

Tough breaks are going to come our way. Who we are (and who others perceive us to be) is a result of how we respond to those breaks. Success coach Jack Canfield says when given an outcome we don’t like, it is common to blame our circumstances rather than ourselves, but in fact it is how we respond to our circumstances that determines the outcome (Event + Response = Outcome). We can choose to be motivated by our failures, or completely derailed by them.


  • “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” (George Eliot)

Most people change careers at least once in their lifetime, and many do so more than once. We are all living longer, healthier lives. Even if you are approaching retirement age (whatever that means anymore), you are not too old to get advanced training, try something new, and even start a new career. Need some inspiration here? Check out this Women’s Running article that features athletes who didn’t get started running until their 70s or 80s (one was 100!), and are now running marathons and breaking records.


  • “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” (William James)

We are often given the choice between, as Dumbledore said to Harry Potter, “what is right, and what is easy.” Every ‘right’ thing we do, no matter how small, and no matter who sees it, makes an impact in the world. Sometimes that impact is on us – we feel good because we know we did the right thing, and that feeling good spills over into all other aspects of our life, including work. We recently discussed some New Year resolutions to help make the workplace a better place: attending to small tasks around the office, doing nice things for coworkers, and being a good listener. These small resolutions will also make you a better person, which will certainly improve your chance at career success.

Self-assessment time. Are you doing something today that will improve your future? Are you blaming others (or your circumstances) for your failures? Do you do the right thing even when no one is watching? There is no time like the present for reinvention. We hope these quotes about career goals inspire you to meet your own.

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