Wisdom//

13 Motivational Mantras for Career Success

A little push can go a long way.

jayk7/Getty Images
jayk7/Getty Images

We all strive for success on our own terms, and achieving it takes ingenuity and perseverance. But sometimes a little extra kick can come in the form of a mantra that ignites our creativity, boosts our confidence, and helps us attain our goals.

We asked members of the Thrive Global community to share the mantras that have helped them achieve success in their careers. Which one will you try?

“A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits.”

“Completing my business degree while working full-time was exhausting at times. One night when I was revising for an upcoming exam, I really started seriously doubting my ability to do this. My housemate told me, ‘A quitter never wins, and a winner never quits.’ This became my mantra. So I scribbled it onto paper, stuck it to my wall, and pushed onward. This phrase saw me through my exam, my degree, and now fortifies me every day as I run my own business.”

Chloe Burroughs, study skills coach, Bath, UK

“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

“In order to be an entrepreneur, you always have to be focused and inspired, but never complacent. I always refer back to my favorite Mary Oliver quote to stay focused: ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’ Each of us is gifted with a talent or desire to fulfill, and it shouldn’t be wasted. Using this quote as a mantra reminds me that I’m unique and special, and have much to contribute to the world. That’s success!”

—Lorie Gardner, CEO/founder, Chatham, NJ

Don’t judge your ability by what you can do now.”

“I was always comparing myself to others and wanting to do more with myself. I would look at how far ahead others were and feel like I wasn’t successful because I wasn’t as advanced. But now I tell myself, ‘Don’t judge your ability by what you can do now. Your ability is what you can do next and that’s pretty exciting. Look at where you’re going, not where you are.’ I like this one the most because it’s my own — not borrowed — and that makes it more tangible to me.”

—Tina Leigh McDonald, leadership facilitator and youth career coach, Milton Keynes, UK

“Find a way.”

“If I’m certain that I want to make something happen, I use the phrase ‘find a way,’ inspired by swimmer Diana Nyad. She used this mantra while swimming from Cuba to Miami. It’s a great reminder to relax, trust yourself, and allow possibilities to emerge. Repeat the phrase a few times before a mediation practice, nap, or walk. Then let go of thinking about the situation and allow your intelligence to organize and make connections.”

—Cara Bradley, body-mind teacher and author, Philadelphia, PA

“The only ones who are failures are the ones who never try.”

“My one and only mantra is an adage handed down from my father: ‘The only ones who are failures are the ones who never try.’ It’s simple and to the point. It gives me the courage to be creative, to extend myself beyond my cocoon of introversion.”

—Michael Ivers, diversity and inclusion, Lake Stevens, WA

“Purpose over position.”

“One of my core mantras is ‘purpose over position.’ It’s often tempting to look at success as movement up a ladder or as a specific salary, but knowing why I’m doing something and how it aligns with my values has always allowed me to gauge my success, whether in my career or other aspects of my life. When I can genuinely answer these questions, influence always seems to follow.”

—Andrew Gobran, people operations, Minneapolis, MN  

“The only voice I’m listening to is my own.”

“As a recovered people-pleaser and perfectionist, I have to remind myself that ‘the only voice I’m listening to is my own.’ I used to say ‘yes’ to too many things, underprice my services, or stress out about getting things right. But now I take a moment to decide what’s best for my business, my relationships, and our family. I also charge based on the value I deliver and tell myself that I have time.”  

—Lisa Pezik, business strategist and content expert, Ontario, Canada

“It’s business — don’t take it personally.”

“As a publicist, my days can be quite busy and change often. Clients make crazy demands and dealing with reporters can be stressful. When people are unpleasant or rude to me, I often remind myself that it’s business, so I shouldn’t take it personally. I remember that I’m built for this and tomorrow will be a better day!”

—Ashlee Simpson, publicist, New York, NY

“Small things done consistently in strategic places over time bring progress.”

“‘Small things done consistently in strategic places over time bring progress.’ This procrastination-busting mantra has kept me from ‘entrepreneur’s paralysis,’ the phenomena of being overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of the mission you’ve taken on to the point of not being able to begin. This is what prevents great ideas from seeing the light of day. The mantra reaffirms what we’ve heard over and over: Just begin with one wise step at a time.”

—Tommy Rosen, addiction recovery expert, Los Angeles, CA

“Light up the room.”

“This one works really well every time I’m either doing public speaking or attending a public event. I simply repeat the phrase ‘light up the room’ when I arrive at the venue, and say this to myself until I enter the room. It makes me feel more positive and happy, and gets me into the zone. When I’m competing in an Ironman, I use the lines of the dance track ‘Tonight’ by Danny Byrd: ‘Tonight is gonna be the night/When the moon and the stars and the stage/Are shining bright/So come and enjoy with me/A celebration tonight of all our history.’ It helps me dig deep in the tail of the marathon.”

—Ian Hacon, energy coach and CEO, Norfolk, UK

“I can change and transform the lives of others by sharing my story.”

“I cultivated a daily practice of meditation a couple of years ago. That’s when I crafted a mantra that keeps me motivated through the day, which I repeat whenever I take a break or need to refocus. One of the mantras that helped me achieve success in my career was ‘I can change and transform the lives of others by sharing my story.’ This empowered me to reach out and inspire others to live a more fulfilling personal and professional life by focusing on themselves and improving their well-being.”

—Sabrina Cadini, life-work balance strategist, San Diego, CA

“Will the world end?”

‘Will the world end?’ Too often, we neglect our downtime and core work because we’re busy doing reactive tasks that we think have to be done now. We make ourselves responsive to everyone, at any time. The effect is that when we are always reacting and working on everyone’s to-do list but our own, we’re actually less productive in the areas that count, and we burn out. When I feel compelled to give up my time, my task list, or creative space to do a task for someone else or answer an email, I ask myself if the world will end if I don’t reply or do it now. A little perspective can work wonders.”

—Sheena Ireland, communications specialist, Canberra, Australia

“You are more than enough. You do more than enough. You have more than enough.”

“For years, the negative self-talk that unceasingly ran in my head was the opposite of a success-boosting mantra. ‘You are not enough’ is what I knew to be true about myself. It may have been an erroneous interpretation from my childhood, but it reverberated within me until I learned to actively replace that mantra with the following: ‘You are enough. You do enough. You have enough.’ I repeated this over and over to myself, especially when shame and self-lambasting would rise up within me. And then I learned to replace that phrase with this: ‘You are more than enough. You do more than enough. You have more than enough.’ This new mantra has saved my life, and brought me both joy and success.”

—Lisa Kohn, author and executive coach, Wayne, PA

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