We all need a little push forward in life now and again. Some extra motivation to get us moving towards our goals and aspirations. Motivation can come from many different sources, one being inspirational words spoken or written by people we admire. The literature on self improvement and motivation is endless, and different perspectives will speak to us all differently. Below is a selection of 7 self improvement quotes I find most effective in motivating me towards growth and improvement, and a bit about the authors.
1. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been.” – T.D. Jakes
Thomas Dexter Jakes is an American Bishop, best selling author, entrepreneur, and talk show host. He describes his mission as encouraging people to think differently and progressively to create a more meaningful life experience. This quote reminds us that in order to change our reality we need to change our behaviour. We cannot expect different results if we keep doing the same things. It motivates us to look at where we are in life and change our behaviour to get to where we want to be. In other words; Evolve or repeat.
2. “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…as in being able to remake ourselves.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi is known as the architect of non-violent civil movements which influenced the world. He was the leader of India’s independence movement, and influenced future revolutionaries including Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. This quote says two things; firstly, you have the power to change yourself, your reality and your life; and secondly, concentrate your focus inwards, on changing yourself, instead of looking outwards at the wrongs of the world. If everyone takes their self-betterment into their own hands then as a whole we are on the path to a better world.
3. “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
The original author of this quote is unknown, and like many profound quotes it is attributed to Chinese proverbs. Regardless of where it came from, this is one of my favourite quotes. I find it motivational when making those first steps towards a new goal or project, particularly a long-term one. A common obstacle or excuse people give themselves for not learning a new skill is “it is too late” or “it will take too long”. While it’s true that the best time to begin learning an instrument, start an investment portfolio, or learn a language would have been 10-20 years ago, this analogy reminds me that in 10-20 years I will wish I started today.
4. “It is not as much about who you used to be, as it is about who you choose to be.” ― Sanhita Baruah
Writer and poet Sanhita Baruah was born in Assam, India, and is author of ‘The Art of Letting Go: Poetry for the Seekers’, and ‘The Art of Grieving’. Most of Sanhita Baruah’s work relates to dealing with grief and loss, but the mindset this quote promotes is applicable in all areas of life. It inspires optimism and recognises the ability of human beings to change who they are purely by power of will. You can choose to be happy, choose to have integrity, choose to improve your career, health or love life. This is the unique power of human beings – the ability to actively change our minds and choose who we are.
5. “One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.” ―Abraham Maslow
Abraham Maslow was an American Psychologist and Philosopher best know for his widely taught self-actualisation theory of psychology. Maslow’s motivation theory argues a “hierarchy of needs”, with physiological needs at the bottom and self-actualisation at the top. With his work Maslow hoped to set out the path towards a satisfying life. This quote reminds us that in order to grow we must force ourselves out of our comfort zones continuously. When we become comfortable with a reality we once found daunting, we must expand our horizons to new and scary boundaries.
6. “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ― Ernest Hemingway
Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winner Ernest Hemingway is widely regarded as one of the great 20th century authors. He was born in Illinois, and had an interesting life, maintaining a thirst for adventure after serving in World War 1 as an ambulance driver. This quote serves to remind us not to compare ourselves to other people, as everyone is running their own race with their own set of challenges. The real “nobility”, as Hemingway put it, is to improve using the yardstick of who we were yesterday.
7. “Become addicted to constant and never-ending self-improvement.” ― Anthony J. D’Angelo
Anthony J. D’Angelo is an Author and Founder/Chief Visionary Officer of educational non profit organisation Collegiate EmPowerment. In 1997 he was hailed on CNN as being “The personal development Guru of his generation.” This quote speaks to the fact that self-improvement is not a set target to aim at with an end date, but rather a constant process to be built upon every day. Therefore the best way to obtain your goals is to become obsessed and “addicted” to the process of constant improvement. The more you improve yourself the more you want to improve further, and the easier it becomes. This quote reminds us to push ourselves into that upward spiral.