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Updated on:

April 23, 2024

Love it or not, so much of our lives is spent at work. And so, it only makes sense that we desire to make a beneficial contribution with a meaningful career. When we work in alignment with our deepest values, we manifest our greatest purpose. This type of job satisfaction, however, goes beyond our title or role. It’s about the intent with which we approach making a living.

Meaningful work quotes can inspire and motivate us to place our effort where it is most helpful. By approaching our work with mindfulness and the intention to be of help to others, we can find meaning in even the smallest of tasks. 

As you read through these meaningful quotes for work, pause to contemplate those which resonate for you. May they help you integrate your mindfulness journey through all parts of your life, even at ‘the office.’

meaningful work quotes, A Collection of 150+ Inspiring Meaningful Work Quotes

150+ Inspiring Meaningful Work Quotes

  • "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work." - Aristotle
  • "One tries to abandon wrong livelihood & to enter into right livelihood: This is one's right effort." - Buddha
  • "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." - Confucius
  • "Work to become, not to acquire." - Elbert Hubbard
  • "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi
  • "The only way to do great work is to love what you do." - Steve Jobs
  • "Find out what you like doing best and get someone to pay you for doing it." - Katharine Whitehorn
  • "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work." - Steve Jobs
  • "Meaningful work is not about the particular job you do; it's about the way in which you do it." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • "To find joy in work is to discover the fountain of youth." - Pearl S. Buck
  • “Each of us have the power to deliver joy and happiness to the people around us through the work we do.”― Alex Kakuyo
  • "I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it." - Thomas Jefferson
  • "The reward of a thing well done is having done it." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." - Albert Schweitzer
  • "Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it." - Henry David Thoreau
  • "When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt." - Henry J. Kaiser
  • "Real success is finding your lifework in the work that you love." - David McCullough
  • "The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose." - William Cowper
  • "Work is love made visible." - Khalil Gibran
  • "The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones." - Confucius
  • “You may want to sit with the following question: How much am I identifying with a job title rather than what I intuitively know is my work to share with the world?” ― Maia Duerr
  • "Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort." - Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • "If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way." - Napoleon Hill
  • "Passion is the difference between having a job or having a career." - Unknown
  • "Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise." - Frank Ocean
  • "I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate." - George Burns
  • "The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible." - Charles Kingsleigh
  • "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." - Robert Louis Stevenson
  • "Dedicate some of your life to others. Your dedication will not be a sacrifice. It will be an exhilarating experience because it is an intense effort applied toward a meaningful end." - Dr. Thomas Dooley
  • "It's not what you achieve, it's what you overcome. That's what defines your career." - Carlton Fisk
  • "To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work." - Sister Mary Lauretta
  • "I have learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life." - Maya Angelou
  • "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." - Nelson Mandela
  • "The difference between a job and a career is the difference between forty and sixty hours a week." - Robert Frost
  • "Find a purpose in life so big it will challenge every capacity to be at your best." - David O. McKay
  • "Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears." - Les Brown
  • "Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs." - Farrah Gray
  • "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt
  • "It is never too late to be what you might have been." - George Eliot
  • "Happiness is the real sense of fulfillment that comes from hard work." - Joseph Barbara
  • "A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work." - Colin Powell
  • "You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream." - C.S. Lewis
  • "Do what you love and the money will follow." - Marsha Sinetar
  • "If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy." - Unknown
  • "The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • "Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it." - Julia Child
  • "The expert in anything was once a beginner." - Helen Hayes
  • "Don’t settle for what life gives you; make life better and build something." - Ashton Kutcher
  • "Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence." - Unknown
  • "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "Happiness is not in doing what one likes, but in liking what one does." - J.M. Barrie
  • "Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling." - Vincent van Gogh
  • "I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as 'making a life'." - Maya Angelou
  • "To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?" - Katharine Graham
  • "Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart." - Rumi
  • "Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still." - Chinese Proverb
  • "Work is not man's punishment. It is his reward and his strength and his pleasure." - George Sand
  • "The only limits you have are the limits you believe." - Wayne Dyer
  • “Outer achievements should be expressions of inner abundance, not compensations for inner poverty.” - Sangharakshita
  • “The work of your heart, the work of taking time, to listen, to help, is also your gift to the whole of the world.” — Jack Kornfield
  • "Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it." - Maya Angelou
  • "Work hard for what you want because it won't come to you without a fight." - Leah LaBelle
  • "What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." - Jane Goodall
  • "When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too." - Paulo Coelho
  • "The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one." - Oscar Wilde
  • "Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home... it's your responsibility to love it, or change it." - Chuck Palahniuk
  • "Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." - Jim Ryun
  • “Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It is the principal source of success in life. - His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
  • "The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today." - Elbert Hubbard
  • "If you can't find joy in the path you are on and what you are working toward, now is the time to move away from it." - Jean Chatzky
  • "Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another." - Anatole France
  • "Joy comes from using your potential." - Will Schultz
  • "Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory." - Mahatma Gandhi
  • “We have the power to improve our work lives immeasurably through awareness, compassion, patience & ingenuity.” ― Sharon Salzberg
  • “Unless your work is your meditation, your meditation is not meditation.” - Sangharakshita
  • "When you feel that you have reached the end and that you cannot go one step further when life seems to be drained of all purpose: what a wonderful opportunity to start all over again, to turn over a new page." - Eileen Caddy
  • "Fulfillment isn't found over the rainbow—it's found in the here and now." - Tony Hsieh
  • "The secret of joy in work is contained in one word—excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it." - Pearl S. Buck
  • "Work to me is a sacred thing." - Margaret Bourke-White
  • "One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important." - Bertrand Russell
  • "The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand." - Vince Lombardi
  • "Vocation is the place where our deep gladness meets the world's deep need." - Frederick Buechner
  • "There is no greater joy nor greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone's life." - Sister Mary Rose McGeady
  • "Purpose is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s needs." - Frederick Buechner
  • "Doing what you love is the cornerstone of having abundance in your life." - Wayne Dyer
  • "As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same." - Marianne Williamson
  • "Do more than belong: participate. Do more than care: help. Do more than believe: practice. Do more than be fair: be kind. Do more than forgive: forget. Do more than dream: work." - William Arthur Ward
  • "It's not the hours you put into your work that counts, it's the work you put in the hours." - Sam Ewing
  • "The fruit of your own hard work is the sweetest." - Deepika Padukone
  • "You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know whether what you’re doing is work or play." - Warren Beatty
  • "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso
  • "We work to become, not to acquire." - Elbert Hubbard
  • "I know of no great men except those who have rendered great service to the human race." - Voltaire
  • "No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." - Martin Luther King Jr.
meaningful work quotes, A Collection of 150+ Inspiring Meaningful Work Quotes
  • "Work not for a reward; but never cease to do thy work." - The Bhagavad Gita
  • “Being happy at work is possible for all of us, anytime & anywhere, with open eyes and a caring heart” ― Sharon Salzberg
  • "The most happy thing in my life, most fulfilling thing, is to work for and to benefit sentient beings.” - Lama Zopa Rinpoche
  • "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." - Socrates
  • "Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness." - George MacDonald
  • "The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion." - Terry Orlick
  • "A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor." - Victor Hugo
  • "To be content with little is difficult; to be content with much, impossible." - Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
  • "When he worked, he really worked. But when he played, he really played." - Dr. Seuss
  • "I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun." - Thomas Edison
  • "Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars." - Henry Ford
  • "Creativity is not a hobby, it is a way of life." - Unknown
  • "Whatever your life's work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better." - Martin Luther King Jr.
  • "My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it." - Abraham Lincoln
  • "Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." - Mother Teresa
  • "Great work is done by people who are not afraid to be great." - Fernando Flores
  • “Your work is your meditation's friend. Focus on your work and meditate like this: While you're working, settle down in your own basic nature, uncontrived, relaxed.” - Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche
  • "The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work." - Harry Golden
  • "What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • "The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra." - Jimmy Johnson
  • "The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it." - Mother Teresa
  • "A mind troubled by doubt cannot focus on the course to victory." - Arthur Golden
  • “Balance is the first pillar of happiness in the workplace, because without it, it’s hard to do a good job or enjoy our work.” - Sharon Salzberg
  • "Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose." - Leonardo da Vinci
  • "Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart." - Roy T. Bennett
  • "Light tomorrow with today." - Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • "I would rather die of passion than of boredom." - Vincent van Gogh
  • "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison
  • "Do the hard jobs first. The easy jobs will take care of themselves." - Dale Carnegie
  • "Without labor nothing prospers." - Sophocles
  • “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” - John F. Kennedy
  • "The beginning is the most important part of the work." - Plato
  • "Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning." - Gloria Steinem
  • "Make each day your masterpiece." - John Wooden
  • "Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it." - Madeleine L'Engle
  • "From small beginnings come great things." - Proverb
  • "You are what you do, not what you say you'll do." - C.G. Jung
  • "The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet." - Aristotle
  • "The best way to predict your future is to create it." - Abraham Lincoln
  • "Change is hard work." - Billy Crystal
  • "Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort." - John Ruskin
  • “Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.” – Booker T. Washington
  • "The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." - Émile Zola
  • "Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it." - Stephen Hawking
  • “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”" - John Wooden
  • "The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." - Émile Zola
  • "Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it." - Stephen Hawking
  • “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”" - John Wooden
  • "One of the signs of a successful person is that they are action oriented. One of the signs of an unsuccessful person is that they are talk oriented." - Brian Tracy
  • "The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have." - Vince Lombardi
  • "What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." - Zig Ziglar
  • "True fulfillment comes from helping others." - Anonymous
  • “Explore the sense that you can work hard for something while also being at peace that you've done all you could whatever the outcome may be.” - Rick Hanson
  • "Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it." - Dan Dennett
  • “Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress: Working hard for something we love is called passion.” ― Simon Sinek
  • "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire." - Ferdinand Foch
  • "Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed." - Vaclav Havel
  • "Dedication and hard work are the bricks that build a successful future." - Anonymous
  • "Be so good they can't ignore you." - Steve Martin
  • "I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions." - Stephen Covey
  • "If your dreams don't scare you, they are too small." - Richard Branson
  • "The purpose of our lives is to be happy." - Dalai Lama
  • "Don’t count the days, make the days count." - Muhammad Ali
  • “If the time was not sufficient, well and good; let the job be resumed another day.” ― Richard E. Byrd
  • "Your work will fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work." - Steve Jobs


Our time spent working is time spent living. The idea that there is separation between work and ‘real life’ is a myth. So too, is the thought that our mindfulness and meditation practice take place apart from work or life. 

As we progress along our mindfulness journey we see that mindfulness and meditation, work and life are all equally expressions of who we are as human beings. The degree to which we integrate these seemingly separate activities is a measure of authenticity.

Meaningful work quotes can help remind us that no matter the tasks we spend our days on, we can bring mindfulness to this work by showing up with presence, patience, kindness and compassion. 

Summing Up

Revisit your favorite meaningful work quotes in the morning as you prepare for your day. Perhaps post them near your work station, or wherever you go to take a break from your duties. Let them inspire you to skillfully apply effort to making the world a better place, one small task at a time.

About the author 

Sean Fargo

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]