What's your guaranteed pick-me-up when you're feeling low or uninspired? How do you overcome life's toughest moments and keep moving forward when the world is weighing you down? A successful remedy we often turn to is positive self-talk. This simple act of self-care can help quell anxiety and provide much-needed guidance in times of uncertainty. When we can't summon our own, we turn to the moving prose from successful women and industry leaders to motivate and inspire us.
From enhancing your career and building your brand to navigating life's hurdles and achieving your goals, these motivational mantras will definitely boost your morale. Just the simple act of chanting these phrases (or writing them down on a sticky note to view at a glance) is an instant jolt of confidence and strength when you need it most. And let's face it, in this climate, we all could use a dose of happiness and positivity.
In honor of these inspiring minds, we compiled nine of our favorite motivational quotes that will not only empower you but provide a metaphorical torch to light the way.
If there's one woman who exudes confidence and wit with a comedic lens, it's Mindy Kaling. The actress and author of best-selling books, Why Not Me? and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, is the best friend we wish we had on speed dial. She has all the kick-ass life advice and straight-up no-BS wisdom we all need on the regular. In a column with Glamour, Kaling revealed her "No Fail, Always Works, Secret Guide to Confidence," and why you have to earn that "bulletproof feeling."
She wrote: "People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That's a mistake. I know I sound like some dour older spinster chambermaid on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man's touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don't understand how you could have self-confidence if you don't do the work… Confidence is like respect: you have to earn it."
The Takeaway: Discover your passion and work hard, really hard, and confidence will come. Mindy says so.
When Meryl Streep speaks, you listen. We all do. The award-winning actress has a powerful presence we all feel on screen, and after her Golden Globes speech, on the real-world stage too. Streep delivered a moving six-minute address while accepting the prestigious Cecil B. DeMille Award, which highlighted the importance of empathy and compassion even when you're surrounded by cruelty and disorder.
In her speech, she said: "Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose… okay, this brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage."
The Takeaway: Be respectful of others, even when they disagree with you, and lead with compassion, always.
Finding comfort in instability is challenging. It can make you want to turn your home into a safe haven and escape the world. But reality beckons, and eventually you have to face the issue head-on and be the change you want to see in the world. If there's one woman who embodies this powerful sentiment and inner strength, it's the inimitable Michelle Obama. In her final speech as the First Lady, Obama made it clear why she's become one of the most loved and respected FLOTUS in U.S. history.
"Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don't matter, or like you don't have a place in our American story—because you do. And you have a right to be exactly who you are," she said. "But I also want to be very clear," she added. "This right isn't just handed to you. No, this right has to be earned every single day. You cannot take your freedoms for granted. Just like generations who have come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms… you need to be preparing yourself to add your voice to our national conversation.
You need to prepare yourself to be informed and engaged as a citizen, to serve and to lead, to stand up for our proud American values and to honor them in your daily lives."
The Takeaway: Don't take anything for granted, especially your freedom of speech. Stand up, be informed, and speak out.
If you need a motivational story to get you out of a career or life rut, then look no further than Oprah Winfrey. The undisputed queen of media conquered daytime TV before launching her own network to become one of the world's most powerful billionaires. But it hasn't been a smooth road to the top. Winfrey has been very public about the adversity she's endured and overcome along the way.
The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire.
But these hardships and failure only fueled her success. In an interview with People magazine, Winfrey shared some key lessons learned along the way, but it was her message on failure that resonates the most. "Do the one thing you think you cannot do," she said. "Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire."
The Takeaway: Don't accept defeat. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and turn your failure into fuel.
Despite being bullied and harassed for appearing feminine while growing up in Mobile, Alabama, Laverne Cox rose above the noise and injustice to become a transgender icon. The leading star of popular Netflix drama Orange Is the New Black is a champion for gender equality, even touring the country to promote trans rights and educate the next generation. In an interview with Time magazine, Cox proved just why so many have rallied around her in support.
Even after all the years of discrimination based on her sexual orientation, Cox can still find love and compassion in her heart. "Some folks, they just don't understand," she said. "And they need to get to know us as human beings. Others are just going to be opposed to us forever. But I do believe in the humanity of people and in people's capacity to love and to change. God help me for that."
The Takeaway: Embrace your uniqueness, it's what makes you beautiful and rare. Empathy is a powerful tool to educate others.
When best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love she touched the world with her moving journey across Italy, India, and Indonesia, compelling millions of readers to search for their own best selves. Despite having all the things you'd expect would make a modern woman happy—a husband, a country home, a successful career—Gilbert was panic-ridden and unfulfilled. In an interview with The Guardian, she asks us to ditch our constant and unachievable pursuit of perfection for a creative life where we don't fear failure or care what others think.
"I hate to get metaphysical about this, but we are here for such a short time: we are mortal and it's over before you know it, and it's precious," she stressed. "It's a rare and amazing thing to be a human being who has any kind of agency over their life at all, and I just can't give a shit where people put me in the filing cabinet of their own imagination… But it's a question of, look, the clock is ticking, we have to limit where we put our energies and resources, and I'm not going to put them into caring what other people think of me."
The Takeaway: Every moment we are alive is precious. Treat it as such, and don't waste a single second worrying about what other people think.
For Reese Witherspoon, ambition is not a dirty word. The successful actress, director, and fashion designer is a huge gender equality advocate, encouraging and educating women to harness their power and assert themselves in their career, relationships, and life. And she truly believes it's important to fail without fear. A huge part of this process is to surround yourself with supportive women who boost your confidence and give you courage.
"Successful women don't have a lot of time for people who don't lift them up," she told Women's Health. "There are a lot of people in life who want to tear you down or get you involved in their drama. That's a big life lesson that is hard to learn when you're young, but as I get older, I see women weeding people out of their lives. This is healthy. You don't need to be a good friend to someone who's not a good friend to you. You don't even need to be a good daughter or sister or wife to somebody who's not good to you.
It goes that far."
The Takeaway: Be brave, and don't be afraid to assert your power in the pursuit of your dreams.
No one encapsulates the plight of the modern feminist quite like Beyoncé. The undisputed queen of modern pop continues to defy music-industry standards and labels with her compelling and often defiant messages that raise awareness around cultural identity, women's rights, and equality. She isn't afraid to stand up and speak out with pride and sincerity to incite change and bring unity.
In an interview with Elle, the icon spoke candidly about power and the pressure for perfection. "It's really about changing the conversation," she said. "It's not about perfection. It's about purpose. We have to care about our bodies and what we put in them. Women have to take the time to focus on our mental health—take time for self, for the spiritual, without feeling guilty or selfish. The world will see you the way you see you, and treat you the way you treat yourself."
The Takeaway: Fight for what you believe in, set your goals, and accomplish them, but be kind to yourself. Make things happen without permission.
We owe a lot of our modern freedoms to Gloria Steinem. The social activist, writer, editor, lecturer, and proud feminist has championed for women's rights since the late '60s. Steinem is the face of the women's movement, speaking out against domestic violence and raising awareness around abortion rights. Much of this she wrote and campaigned for in her feminist publication Ms. Magazine. She has since written several best-selling titles on gender equality and continues the fight today at age 82.
In an HBO documentary, Steinem opens up about her life's work and the importance of honesty. "If we tell the truth to each other, we empower each other," she said. "It helps us understand that there's no such thing as perfect. There's unique, but not perfect."
The Takeaway: Honesty is the key to freedom and unity. And perfection is overrated.
What motivational quote gives you strength in tough times?
This post was originally published on January 18, 2017, and updated by Sacha Strebe.