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  1. Blog
  2. Women to Know

24 Work Quotes That’ll Inspire You to Take a Chance

You better work

Photo that sounds "doubt"
Photo courtesy of Leeloo Thefirst

When the 9-to-5 grind starts to grind a little more than usual, a few encouraging words from fellow working women can give you a much-needed boost to power through.

Whether you’re hoping for some mid-week encouragement or need an extra push before making moves in your career, consult these 24 career quotes from professional women to find the motivation you need.

Read more: 8 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety in the Workplace

On working a “man’s world”

1. “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anyway.”

—Lady Gaga, singer, songwriter, and actress

2. “There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.”

—Rihanna, singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman

3. “This is what I tell young women who ask me for career advice. People are going to try to trick you. To make you feel that you are in competition with one another.‘You're up for a promotion. If they go for a woman, it'll be between you and Barbara.’ Don't be fooled. You're not in competition with other women. You're in competition with everyone.”

—Tina Fey, actress, comedian, writer, producer, and playwright

4. “I’ve had a lot of voices tell me what I should be making. Personally, I would much rather live and die by my own hand. If my stuff sucks, then at least I made it suck. I didn’t allow some person, some old dude in a suit, to make it suck for me.”

—Zendaya, actress and singer

5. “I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.”

—Gloria Steinem, feminist, journalist, and social political activist

6. “In fact, there is perhaps only one human being in a thousand who is passionately interested in his job for the job's sake. The difference is that if that one person in a thousand is a man, we say, simply, that he is passionately keen on his job; if she is a woman, we say she is a freak.”

—Dorothy L. Sayers, crime writer and poet

7. “Speak in statements instead of apologetic questions. No one wants to go to a doctor who says,‘I’m going to be your surgeon? I’m here to talk to you about your procedure? I was first in my class at Johns Hopkins, so?’ Make statements, with your actions and your voice.”

—Tina Fey, actress, comedian, writer, producer, and playwright

Read more: 23 Quotes from Men on the Right Side of Gender Equality

On ambition

8. “What would happen if we encouraged all women to be a little more ambitious? I think the world would change.”

—Reese Witherspoon, actress, producer, and entrepreneur

9. “Buckle up, and know that it’s going to be a tremendous amount of work, but embrace it."

—Tory Burch, fashion designer, businesswoman and philanthropist

10. “It’s okay to be proud of hard-earned success. There is no shame in being a boss.”

—Katy Perry, singer and songwriter

Read more: 37 Quotes from Badass Women to Remind You How Awesome Women Are

11. “It’s not as if I sit back and watch things fly onto my plate. I went for a lot of things. Success doesn’t happen by waiting for things to happen because there are other people who are hungry. The early bird catches the worm.”

—Heidi Klum, model, television personality, businesswoman, fashion designer, singer, television producer, author, and actress

12. “You can have unbelievable intelligence, you can have connections, you can have opportunities fall out of the sky. But in the end, hard work is the true, enduring characteristic of successful people.”

—Marsha Evans, retired rear admiral in the United States Navy, former executive director of the Girl Scouts, and former president and CEO of American Red Cross

13. “Even if I’m completely unsure, I’ll pretend I know exactly what I’m talking about, and make a decision.”

—Anna Wintour, journalist and Vogue editor-in-chief

Read more: 13 Quotes on Achieving Work-Life Balance from Successful Women

On taking chances

14. “Don't lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don't have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith. Be true blue. You are a writer because you write. Keep writing and quit your bitching. Your book has a birthday. You don't know what it is yet.”

—Cheryl Strayed, memoirist, novelist, essayist, and podcast host

15. “If I could offer any advice, it would be: Be your own shrink and ask yourself tough questions like,‘Why am I doing this? Where do I want to be? And of course…what would I do if I weren’t afraid?’ And then be brutally honest with yourself, even if you give yourself answers you don’t want to know. Pay attention to your instincts.”

—Joanna Coles, former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief and former chief content officer for Hearst Magazines

16. “When you do something you’re not ready to do, that’s when you push yourself and you grow. It’s when you sort of move through that moment of discomfort of,‘Wow, what have I gotten myself into this time?’”

—Marissa Mayer, businesswoman, investor, founder of Lumi Labs, and former president and CEO of Yahoo!

17. “I think the main thing is: Just do it. Plunge in! Being Canadian, I go swimming in icy cold lakes, and there is always that dithering moment.‘Am I really going to do this? Won’t it hurt? And at some point you just have to flop in there and scream. Once you’re in, keep going. You may have to crumple and toss, but we all do that. Courage! I think that is what’s most required.”

—Margaret Atwood, poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher, and environmental activist

18. “Someone once told me growth and comfort do not coexist. And I think it’s a really good thing to remember.”

—Ginni Rometty, former chair, president, and CEO of IBM

19. “Don’t give up. If you don’t hear back from someone, follow-up. If you don’t get a job, ask why not and keep applying. Do whatever you have to (within reason and normalcy) to make something happen. I applied to work at three times and got it the third time because I took a break and spent six months commenting on everything on the site under my name, so they’d know I was smart, funny, and informed.”

—Alexandra Martell, managing editor of

Read more: 29 Quotes About Strong Women, by Strong Women

On goals and self-reflection

20. “Success isn’t about how much money you make. It’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

—Michelle Obama, lawyer, writer, and former First Lady of the United States

21.”Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.”

—Hillary Clinton, former First Lady of the United States, senator, & Secretary of State

22.”Sit down and ask yourself,‘What is the most important thing to me?’ What grosses me out the most? What makes me the most upset—is it healthcare? Is it so many people being hungry in our culture? Is it sexual abuse? Mix that with doing something you love, something you could keep doing forever and ever. For me, it was ending violence against women, and I mixed it with music. And I’ve had a 25-year career. So that’s my advice: Find something you really care about and mix that with something you love doing.”

—Kathleen Hanna, singer, musician, artist, feminist activist, pioneer of the feminist punk riot grrrl movement, and punk zine writer

23. “Women want men, careers, money, children, friends, luxury, comfort, independence, freedom, respect, love, and a three-dollar pantyhose that won't run.”

—Phyllis Diller, actress comedienne

24. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a thirty-something woman in possession of a satisfying career and fabulous hairdo must be in want of very little.”

—Shannon Hale, YA author

Read more: 9 Mantras of Successful Working Women We Can All Live By

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