The real meanings behind the best motivational quotes of all time

Every now and again, we all need some motivation. But it can be easy to misunderstand the sayings. Or we hear something so many times – and hear what other people say it means – that the meaning just kind of sticks in our heads. It’s not your fault when this happens. It’s common to recall what you hear the most, it’s a mechanism the brain uses to do less work.

So when you need some motivation, check out these quotes. From Walt Disney and Michael Phelps to Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama, these are some of the best motivational quotes of all time – and what they really mean. 

A necessary reminder

a necessary reminder

The quote: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”

– Confucius

What people think it means:

People often assume this quote is about getting things done all the time. If you never stop, you’ll always accomplish your task.

What it really means:

While it’s true you will accomplish things if you simply keep working at it, this quote is really about willpower and self control. You have to make sure you don’t stop – the habit you build is the real win. As long as you continue to build great habits, you’ll overcome any challenge that comes your way.

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