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These 55 Personal Growth Quotes Will Help You Achieve Your Full Potential

editor@purewow.com (PureWow)

Personal growth is like self-care’s older, more experienced cousin. It’s usually what happens to us after we’ve put in some work on ourselves or taken the time to reexamine what we want and how to get it. It’s about learning from past actions. It’s about investing in ourselves so we can think about life beyond our egos. It’s about growing into—or perhaps, discovering—the person we’re meant to be.

If you need a little fire under your butt today, forcing you to keep moving toward your best self, read on for 55 stellar quotes from people who have been through the ringer and came out the other side stronger, smarter and savvier. 

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"Your mistakes are not what define you. What defines you is what you do after your mistakes and how you learn what is meant to be learned from those moments.” - Jennifer Lopez, singer, entrepreneur

“The question is whether or not you choose to disturb the world around you, or if you choose to let it go on as if you had never arrived.” - Ann Patchett, writer

“Change is not a bolt of lightning that arrives with a zap. It is a bridge built brick by brick, every day, with sweat and humility and slips. It is hard work, and slow work, but it can be thrilling to watch it take shape.” - Sarah Hepola, author

“One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In stopping to think through the meaning of what I have learned, there is much that I believe intensely, much I am unsure of. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own.” - Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady

“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn't always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.” - Mindy Kaling, actress, writer

“I require my students to write a failure résumé. That is, to craft a résumé that summarizes all their biggest screw ups—personal, professional, and academic. For every failure, each student must describe what he or she learned from that experience. Just imagine the looks of surprise this assignment inspires in students who are so used to showcasing their successes... Failures increase the chance that you won’t make the same mistake again. Failures are also a sign that you have taken on challenges that expand your skills. In fact, many successful people believe that if you aren’t failing sometimes then you aren’t taking enough risks. Additionally, it is pretty clear that the ratio of our successes and failure[s] is pretty constant. So, if you want more successes, you are going to have to tolerate more failure along the way.” - Dr. Tina Seelig, professor and author

“Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes, work never begun.” - Christina Rossetti, poet

“Be master of your petty annoyances and conserve your energies for the big, worthwhile things. It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out—it's the grain of sand in your shoe.” - Robert Service, writer

“There are stars whose radiance is visible on Earth though they have long been extinct. There are people whose brilliance continues to light the world though they are no longer among the living. These lights are particularly bright when the night is dark. They light the way for humankind.” - Hannah Senesh, poet, playwright

“Growing up is losing some illusions, in order to acquire others.” - Virginia Woolf, author

“I’ve learned you can always achieve more than you thought you could. There are moments when I’ve walked off the court, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know how I won that match.’ It was actually impossible, but it happened, and then you realize that you can push yourself much further than you ever thought, and you can make the impossible happen.” - Venus Williams, athlete

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.” - Maya Angelou, writer

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought, there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.” - Frida Kahlo, artist

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.” - Joan Didion, writer

“Your voice dries up if you don't use it.” - Patti Page, singer

“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one.” - Dolly Parton, singer

“I grew up never seeing myself on-screen, and it’s really important to me to give people who look like me a chance to see themselves. I want to see myself as the hero of any story. I want to see myself save the world from the bomb.” - Sandra Oh, actress

“I believe my purpose is to bring joy to people, to make them laugh, and to share my story to help them. To show people that no matter what, they matter, and they can succeed. No matter how bad things go, no matter how dark your life is, there is a reason for it. You can find beauty in it, and you can get better. I know, because I’ve done it. That’s why my comedy so often comes from my pain. In my life, and I hope in yours, I want us to grow roses out of the poop.” - Tiffany Haddish, actress, writer

"Sometimes, restrictions can be creative. Instead of feeling frustrated by them, which I did have a tendency to do, I just decided to make the most of it—of not being able to move, in fact." - Zadie Smith, writer

“I think that what I have been truly searching for as a person, as a writer, as a thinker, as a daughter, is freedom. That is my mission. A sense of liberty, the liberty that comes not only from self-awareness but also from letting go of many things. Many things that weigh us down.” - Jhumpa Lahiri, author

“We make progress in society only if we stop cursing and complaining about its shortcomings and have the courage to do something about them.” - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, psychiatrist

“My ancestors even 200 years ago, they didn’t spend a lot of time banking capital, they didn’t rely on material wealth for their well-being and economic stability. They put energy into meaningful and authentic relationships. So their food security and economic security was based on how good and how resilient their relationships were—their relationships with clans that lived nearby, with communities that lived nearby, so that in hard times they would rely on people, not the money they saved in the bank. I think that extended to how they found meaning in life. It was the quality of those relationships—not how much they had, not how much they consumed—that was the basis of their happiness.” - Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, writer and musician

“I think transwomen, and transpeople in general, show everyone that you can define what it means to be a man or woman on your own terms. A lot of what feminism is about is moving outside of roles and moving outside of expectations of who and what you’re supposed to be to live a more authentic life.” - Laverne Cox, actress

“Seek patience and passion in equal amounts. Patience alone will not build the temple. Passion alone will destroy its walls.” - Maya Angelou, writer

“Sometimes when I’m interviewed, the interviewer either compliments me on my ‘talent’, my 'gift’ or asks me how I discovered it... I used to struggle to answer this politely, to explain that I didn’t believe much in writing talent. People who want to write either do it or they don’t. At last I began to say that my most important talent—or habit—was persistence. Without it, I would have given up writing long before I finished my first novel. It’s amazing what we can do if we simply refuse to give up.” - Octavia Butler, author

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” - Georgia O’Keeffe, artist

“This time a year ago, I was bartending while running a long-shot campaign for Congress. That time felt so dark and yet so hopeful at the same time. Our odds were dismal [and] I was dismissed, but we felt that fighting hard for what’s right—even uphill—was worth it. Keep going.” - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, politician

“When women are financially stronger, it’s not just good for them, it’s good for their families, it puts money into the economy, the market—it’s good for everyone.” - Sallie Krawcheck, financial advisor

“I always believed that when you follow your heart or your gut, when you really follow the things that feel great to you, you can never lose, because settling is the worst feeling in the world.” - Rihanna, singer, entrepreneur

"I am a firm believer that if you feel good and you are happy and you are doing all the things you need to on a daily basis—whether it be for your profession or as a professional athlete—you are going to be more comfortable in your skin." - Abby Wambach, athlete

"I was 32 when I started cooking. Up until then, I just ate." - Julia Child, chef

“When I feel like work and life are both going well, I feel like I can be fully present at both. I think the reminder to me is that both are super important, and I need to be able to feel like I can experience both in the way that makes me happiest. If I'm not happy in one or the other, it really affects the other side.” - Katrina Lake, CEO and entrepreneur

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” - Brené Brown, author

“Know this one great truth: you are in control of your own life. You get one and only one chance to live, and life is passing you by. Stop beating yourself up, and dang it, stop letting others do it too. Stop accepting less than you deserve. Stop buying things you can’t afford to impress people you don’t even really like. Stop eating your feelings instead of working through them. Stop buying your kids’ love with food, or toys, or friendship because it’s easier than parenting. Stop abusing your body and your mind. Stop!” - Rachel Hollis, writer

“If I could, I would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their results.” - Emily Brontë, novelist

“The sharing of joy, whether physical, emotional, psychic, or intellectual, forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of their difference.” - Audre Lorde, author

“The advice I give to young people today is exactly what my mother gave to me when I was 10 and I said, ‘I’m going to grow up, go to Africa, live with wild animals and write books about them.’ Everybody laughed. How could I do that? We didn’t have any money. World War II was raging. I was just a girl. But my mother always said, ‘If you really want something, you’re going to have to work hard, you’ll have to take advantage of every opportunity, but don’t give up.’ I’ve taken that message to young people… all around the world.” - Dr. Jane Goodall, anthropologist

“I don't see the desert as barren at all; I see it as full and ripe. It doesn't need to be flattered with rain. It certainly needs rain, but it does with what it has, and creates amazing beauty.” - Joy Harjo, poet

“I think what we leave out of the success stories are the most universal aspects of the journey. It’s the stuff there’s a stigma around—talking about money, talking about advocating for yourself, complicated, messy personal relationships and how they intersect with your professional life, office politics. All these things are what we really need to be talking about if we want to arm the next generation with tools to go further than we ever could.” - Elaine Welteroth, journalist and writer

“Close friends contribute to our personal growth. They also contribute to our personal pleasure, making the music sound sweeter, the wine taste richer, the laughter ring louder because they are there.” - Judith Viorst, author

“You will encounter misguided people from time to time. That's part of life. The challenge is to educate them when you can, but always to keep your dignity and self-respect and persevere in your personal growth and development.” - Bernice King, minister

"As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people's ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life." - Amy Poehler, comedian

“Resilient people aren't afraid to admit they have weaknesses. Whether an effective leader acknowledges problems within an organization, or an individual recognizes areas in need of personal growth, resilient people use failure as an opportunity to spot their weaknesses.” - Amy Morin, social worker and author

“I'm discovering, and I think other mums are discovering too, that when you become a mum, you don't have to change into this frumpy, wholesome role model who is perfect and loses all of your identity. You can still have the same personality you've always had.” - Ali Wong, comedian

“I tried for a short time to be something I wasn't, and had no success with it. It's a practical solution to just be yourself.” - Kate McKinnon, comedian

“People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.” - Salma Hayek, actress

“I never went into physics or the astronaut corps to become a role model. But after my first flight, it became clear to me that I was one. And I began to understand the importance of that to people. Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see.” - Sally Ride, astronaut

“What we find is that if you have a goal that is very, very far out, and you approach it in little steps, you start to get there faster. Your mind opens up to the possibilities.” - Mae Jemison, astronaut

”Anger, resentment, envy, and self-pity are wasteful reactions. They greatly drain one’s time. They sap energy better devoted to productive endeavors.” - Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Judge

"I’m a believer in the power of knowledge and the ferocity of beauty, so from my point of view, your life is already artful—waiting, just waiting, for you to make it art.” - Toni Morrison, author

“Don't surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself that isn't true anymore." - Cheryl Strayed, writer

"As you get older, you become more comfortable in your skin and comfortable in saying no to things... I've also learned that saying no is just as valuable as saying ‘yes.’ It's something that, I think, comes with age and really having a sense of your self-worth. And then you make choices based on that." - Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex

“When people say 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks' it's not true, because you can reinvent yourself and learn new things whenever you want.” - Jonathan Van Ness, stylist and reality TV star

“Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself.” - Julia Cameron, writer

“I am still a work in progress, and hope to always be.” - Lupita Nyong’o, actress

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