Motivation is a fickle thing.
It can disappear for months on end, only to show up right before we head to bed, then run off right as we sit back down to work.
It can be insanely frustrating. But if we just sit around and wait for motivation to strike, we’ll get nothing done. So, you need to go in search of it yourself.
That’s where we’re here to help, with 50 motivating quotes to help you through almost any situation that is ahead of you.
All 50 of these are top notch, but if you haven’t already (c’mon, you haven’t?), it’s time you created your own motivational posters, tailored to your own motivational trigger points. Click here to design your first one free in Canva.
01. For When You Begin
Any new endeavour can be both terrifying and tricky, but a lot of the time, the hardest part is making that first move. Get some inspiration to make that very first step from this brilliantly illustrated Lao Tzu quote by Jennifer Wick.
02. For When You Need To Knuckle Down
One of the marvels of the human race is our ability and hunger to learn new things every day. So whether you’re still working away in school or learning first hand from the real world, keep your thoughts sharp and your mind open with this awesome hand-crafted typographical poster by Ian Barnard that immortalises the wise words of blues musician B.B. King.
03. For When You’re Stuck
You’ve probably heard the phrase “think outside the box” more often than you’ve heard your own name, but that’s likely because it’s actually pretty good advice. When you’re stuck for ideas, sometimes it’s best to just think around the problem, think opposite, think a little crazy. Remind yourself to step out of the box a little with this clever but simple poster by Thomas Braestrup.
04. For When You Need Some Spirit
Whatever journey you’re embarking on, Steve Jobs will always have some timeless wisdom and a succinct reminder for you. Stay hungry, foolish and inspired with this clever poster by Tang Yau Hoong that uses symbolism and negative space to make a punchy and intriguing design.
05. For When You Need To Do Something Great
It’s easy to look at someone’s finished work and get a little discouraged by the grandiose of it all. So, an important thing to keep in mind is that nobody, not even the best of us, builds Rome in a day. Just as this poster by Caleb Boyles helps reiterate, it takes a lot of intentional steps to get somewhere great.
06. For When You Need A Break
Hard work is great, but know when you need to step back for a moment. Find something that you enjoy doing outside of work, whatever it may be, and spend time doing it. Check out this beautifully letterpressed poster from Sapling Press that recounts Bertrand Russell’s thoughts on break-time.
07. For When You’re A Little Lost
Being a bit unsure about where you’re going is a part of any journey, and the best advice can sometimes be to cross the bridges as you come to them. Check out this cruisey poster design by Lucas Young that uses calming and flowy typography to remind you to be adaptable and flexible.
08. For When You Need Some Inspiration
Are you fresh out of ideas? Perhaps consider taking a leaf from Pablo Picasso’s book and work away at it until you find that inspiration. Check out this poster by Daniel Patrick Simmons that pays homage to Picasso’s opinions on inspiration, a clever design that showcases Simmons’ process towards the final print. Practise what you preach, indeed!
09. For When You Have Ambitions
Sometimes our goals can seem overly ambitious and this can be discouraging, but it’s important to remember that we never really know what we can accomplish until we try. This fun and nostalgic poster from Laura Gomez reminds us to just have a shot at it because you never quite know what you’ll accomplish.
10. For When You’re Waiting
We can sit down and think about being productive until the cows come home but the simple fact of the matter is that waiting doesn’t get the work done, only picking up the pencil and starting will do that. Encourage yourself to get the ball rolling with this sleek and geometric poster design by Dale Edwin Murray.
11. For When You’re Thrown A Curveball
When we encounter a problem, we can either crumble and fall under it or rise up and let it teach us a lesson. This poster by The Creative Canopy illustrates a fantastic metaphor about conquering the bumps in the road with a strong and powerful silhouette guaranteed to encourage you to take the lead in any pack you encounter.
12. For When You Need Some Depth
We can often find ourselves getting wrapped up in quantity instead of quality, both in terms of our life and our work. Check out this poster by Design Different that implements an interesting use of negative space and long shadows to remind us that depth can be a bit more substantial than length.
13. For When You Need A Big Idea
Solving any problem can be tricky, you can come up with hundreds of possible solutions and none can quite fit the bill. So, why not think big? This poster by 1620 Studio understands what it means to be large and in charge, the large type providing the perfect example of its own advice. Try to think outside the normal parameters you usually bind yourself to, challenge yourself and your team and just get ambitious.
14. For When You Need To Keep Trying
Trial and error is the only way we can ever really learn something. Experiment, try, push yourself and most importantly, don’t let failure quash your motivation. Look at failure in a new light with this beautifully intricate and detailed poster design by Custom Chalk that puts an inspiring spin on those unsuccessful attempts.
15. For When You Need Some Creativity
No matter what your line of work is, creative thought can help you go far. But sometimes we put our creativity away in a box and forget to harness it. Have a look at this incredibly dynamic and energetic illustrated poster by Helena Hauss that captures the essence of creativity. Plus, when you find out that this piece was created with coloured ballpoint pens, I challenge you to not be inspired!
16. For When You Need An Identity
No two people are the exact same, so nor should two people produce the exact same content. Find your own niche that you settle nicely into and embrace that uniqueness, some may love it some may not, but take pride in the fact that you’re doing something new. Check out this poster from Design Different that exemplifies the importance of originality perfectly with a large fingerprint image – biological proof that we are all unique creatures.
17. For When You Need To Network
We all know those people, the ones that need no introduction. They have worked hard to become the best at what they do and consequently are known and admired by many. Check out this simple but poignant poster by Behappy.me that reminds us that with a lot of hard work, there is nothing stopping us from being that very person someday.
18. For When You Have Work To Do
Eddison was clearly a fountain of knowledge about the effects of hard work. He knew that while an original idea was necessary, it was the execution that held the most weight. And what better way to prove that execution is paramount than with this beautifully designed poster by Design Different that uses 99 beads of sweat and one light bulb to perfectly visualise exactly what Eddison thought.
19. For When You Take A Plunge
We never really get anywhere great if we stand still forever, but embarking on new paths can take a lot of courage. So, find a little of that courage in this serene poster by Sage + Sparkle that uses a nautical metaphor from Christopher Columbus and classy hand-type to encourage you to take that all-important step outside of your comfort zone.
20. For When You Need Momentum
Do you just need to put something on page? Get inspired to put something down with this quote from Hemingway. While having a drink every time you need to knuckle down is not favourable, instead take away the advice to just put something down and worry about editing later. This poster by Obvious State uses a simple design to remind you to just lay down some form of a foundation and worry about sprucing it up later – just start somewhere.
21. For When You Need To Brainstorm
Are you a little bogged down in the ideas? Something to keep in mind is that the idea is only one part of the whole, just as this poster by Baron Fig, that has been designed for the more technically-motivated creative-types out there, reminds us. The type, fashioned out of architectural floor plans punctuates the point that the implementation and realisation of an idea is often where the real value of a project lies.
22. For When You Want Some Luck
It’s easy to blame our failures on luck (or lack thereof) but we sometimes need to remember that we are in the ones in charge of our own luck. Check out this vibrant, dimensional and very interesting poster from Chris LaBrooy that uses intriguing 3D type to remind us that in order to get lucky, we need to work hard. Good things come to those who work for them, after all!
23. For When You Need Some Balance
Remind yourself what you need to hold onto and what should fall away with this poster by Design Different that visualises Rumi’s words using a simple example plucked right from mother nature. Just like the caterpillar that has to hold on until it is a free-flying butterfly, so should we learn the balance between holding on and letting go. This simple visual and minimal type helps create a strong and memorable lesson.
24. For When You Need Some Patience
Patience is a virtue, and learn how to master that virtue with this dynamic poster by Tang Yau Hoong. The combination of the glasses with the hourglass creates a thought-provoking visual that perfectly encapsulates St. Augustine’s wisdomous words. While running ahead and making things happen is usually a direct path to success, it is an inevitability of life that we sometimes just have to sit back and wait things out.
25. For When You Need To Break Free
We are bound by a lot of constraints in our day to day lives, and sometimes this can feel very restricting. Check out this whimsical poster by Sedki Alimam that combines a simple but powerful visual within strong and direct type to remind you to spread your wings every once in a while.
26. For When You Need Some Fun
I think we can all agree that Einstein was a fairly clever guy, right? So, he definitely knows what he is talking about when it comes to intelligence. Keep fun in mind with this playful poster by Design Different that uses simple, flat and geometric lego pieces to prove fun isn’t just for kids.
27. For When You Need To Think Different
This quote from Henry Ford exemplifies the benefits of radical and out-of-the-box thinking. Ford, of course, founded Ford Motor Company and is responsible for bringing automobiles into the lives of everyday people, even thought they had no idea that this was what they wanted. This quote is visualised by Design Different with a minimal image of a car front that contrasts with the content of the type to create a strong reminder about the benefits of thinking big and thinking different.
28. For When You Get Discouraged
In any project there is going to be small hiccups, things that don’t go as planned, or big road-blocks that ruin your plan all together. Instead of getting discouraged or disheartened by these small failures, try to think of it as earning your stripes. Check out this clever quote poster on The Things We Say that uses type (appropriately made out of tape) to remind us that once you accept that projects are made up of small failures, when you do hit bumps in the road, they won’t hurt so badly.
29. For When You Plan Your Journey
The thing about setting goals is that once we achieve them, where do we go from there? Your life shouldn’t have a set destination, instead you goals should be changing and growing each day. This beautiful and simple poster from Mike McQuade illustrates this perfectly, using many small location pins over one large map. Enjoy the journey, because the destination is going to change countless times.
30. For When You Need Some Kindling
Sometimes we can forget that we have the ability to make a big difference with a little hard work. This wonderfully illustrated poster by Jay Roeder uses punchy type and vibrant colour to remind you that all you need is a single spark to start a huge inferno.
31. For When You Need To Stay Sharp
Einstein once said that “imagination is more important than knowledge”, and who are we to dispute Einstein? Remember to exercise your imagination as much as you exercise logical thought, just as this poster by Tang Yau Hoong encourages. And of course a poster design about imagination is best exemplified with an imaginative design. This poster celebrates imagination and whimsy by connecting a symbol of creativity with a symbol of freedom, all wrapped up in a cheerful and simple design. Stay sharp!
32. For When You Need To Shut Down
Computers can do just about anything these days, we are all aware of this; they’re amazing, there’s no dispute. But this being said, it’s important to not forget the power of the non-digital realm. Just as this dynamic and vibrant poster by Felix Hornoiu reminds us, the pencil is a mighty tool that we should never forget about. So, every one and a while, shut down the computer, pick up a pencil and see what it can do for you.
33. For When You Are Sidetracked
Even the most studious of workers procrastinate sometimes, it’s inevitable, but have you ever considered that you could learn something about yourself from this distraction? Just as this quote from Jessica Hische notes, the work you procrastinate with may reveal where your passion lies, so it should be treated as important work. This reminder is presented via this beautiful typographical treatment by Dangerdust that uses strong lines and classy hand type to remind you to seek out your passions.
34. For When You Want Some Change
Change is hard to accomplish and hard to adjust to, but it’s an inevitable factor of life. Get encouraged to embrace change within yourself before you go forth and try to adjust the world with this poster from Design Different. The simple frame graphic around the text reminds us to look at our own situations before we try to change others’.
35. For When You First Embark
You never quite know where you will end up in a few years if you never take that all-important first step. Get up and at’em with some encouragement from this poster by Tang Yau Hoong that once again combines symbols of travel and freedom to remind you that the sky really is the limit, but only once you begin trying. Don’t let the length of the journey deter you from beginning it!
36. For When The Ball Begins Rolling
Once things get off the ground for you, there’s only a few pieces of wisdom to pass along, and Jennet Liaw sums some of them up nicely in this fresh, simple and clever typographical poster. Keep your feet firmly on the ground and your mind on the prize and you’ll be an unstoppable force of nature.
37. For When You Need To Just Do It
A good and thorough plan is a surefire step toward success, but it’s important to know when to stop planning and just start doing. Get inspired to end your procrasti-planning with this poster by Baron Fig, let the bright yellow punchy lettering grab your attention away from the planner and into the project.
38. For When You Encounter A Mixed Bag
With the good comes the bad, we all know this, but for some reason we are still surprised when the bad rears its ugly head. This poster by Byron Fashion uses small type and a clean and simple photograph to serve as a gentle reminder to be appreciative for the roses in life despite their inevitable thorns.
39. For When Nothing Goes Right
Regaining control over a situation when it has gone wrong can be difficult, and sometimes the only option is to just forego the plan and ‘go left’. This simple poster by Giuseppe Fierro uses bold, left-tilted type to make a striking statement about the importance of perseverance.
40. For When Things Seem Impossible
When you have a lot on your plate, things can seem pretty overbearing pretty fast. In those cases, let this poster that immortalises the words of Nelson Mandela help pull you out of that slump. Much like the optical illusions that make up this intriguing poster design by Tang Yau Hoong, while some things may seem impossible, doesn’t always mean they are.
41. For When You Have An Idea
An idea is nothing without proper execution, so take the ideas you have stored away and make them real. Check out this poster by Dale Edwin Murray that transforms sleek graphics of pencils into factories, a perfect symbolic representation of the transformation of ideas into products. Once you have your idea locked down, get to work realising it before it slips away.
42. For When You Need To Get Up And Go
Achievement is not awarded to those who stand still, it is only awarded to those that get up and do whatever they can with what they have. This vibrant and dynamic poster from Brad Woodward uses geometric illustrations to remind us that no matter how we go, by plane or by foot, the important thing is that we make a move. Now get up and let’s get going!
43. For When You’re Thinking Small
Ask yourself this: If I’m not going to think outside of my box now then when will I? We can spend our time thinking repetitive things and producing repetitive solutions, or we can think radically and produce radical change. You can think of this awesome hand-type based poster by Jay Roeder as morbid or you can think of it as the ultimate motivation – we only encounter a finite number of problems in our lifetime, so why not tackle them head-on with elaborate and out-of-the-box thought?
44. For When Need Some Vision
When faced with a problem, there are often various ways you can look at it, but as Henry David Thoreau notes, the perspective that you look at the problem doesn’t matter as much as what you see when you look at it. This poster by Tang Yau Hoong cleverly punctuates Thoreau’s words by creating an imaginative scene that illustrates the difference between looking and seeing in an unconventional but very effective way. Look a little deeper and who knows what you’ll find.
45. For When You Make Mistakes
The best and most thorough teacher in life are definitely mistakes. While they can feel like the end of the world at times, a mistake made well turns into a lasting lesson. Stay cool when you make a mistake with this typographic poster from Rely On Words that uses torn up typefaces to reminded that mistakes are temporary but the lessons they teach us are permanent.
46. For When You Need To Act
Use your work to inspire, motivate and encourage others, present a call to action and try to elicit a response. This dynamic handcrafted type by Daniel Patrick Simmons has a fast paced energy to it that is sure to encourage you to get the worlds’ attention. After all, the worst response to your work is no response at all.
47. For When You Need A Little Knowledge
We spend the first half of our life in school learning the fundamentals of life, but when we graduate that’s definitely not the end of our learning. This lively poster from Trevor Rogers depicts a handful of items you can learn from with stylised illustrations guaranteed to encourage you to take pride in learning. Be open to learning your whole life, be receptive to new lessons and embrace any knowledge you can soak up.
48. For When You Need To Learn
Every success is built up on top of a pile of mistakes. You could read every book, listen to every lecture and take every precaution, but the only way you can ever properly learn something is through trial and error. This poster from Cristina Pagnoncelli puts a new spin on an old saying that helps remind us of what error really means – just a new lesson learnt.
49. For When You Need To Work Hard
All of the advice in this article applies to no specific person, but rather all people. Just as this poster by Design Different reminds us, whatever you do in life, just make a consistent and conscious effort to do it well. No matter what your profession, your specialty, your goals, if you work hard and strive to do well with all that you do, you will be a success.
50. For When You’re Still Looking
They say that if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. While this can seem impossible, still keep trying. Get inspired to keep at it with this quote from Steve Jobs, designed by Dangerdust who have appropriately presented the quote in a few computer windows that help embellish the hierarchy of the type. Don’t give up on your passions or what motivates you, trust your gut, and do good work with good people.
Unfortunately, there is no set formula to success, and nor is there a formula to motivation. The only way for you to take control of when you are inspired to do great things is to learn about yourself. When do you work best? Who do you work best with? What made your best work so great?
But for now, seek inspiration in others’ work and words. Everybody you meet knows something you do not, so treat everyone as a source of knowledge and always be learning. The more you take note of your own habits and patterns, and the more knowledge you seek from others’ experience, the easier it will be to harness your motivation and use it to do really great things.