Quotations about   goal

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What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.

Viktor Frankl (1905-1997) German-American psychologist, writer
Man’s Search for Meaning, Part 2 (1946)
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Added on 16-Apr-19 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
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A virtuous, ordinary life, striving for wisdom but never far from folly, is achievement enough.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 4 “Consolation for Inadequacy” (2000)
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Summarizing Montaigne.
Added on 5-Apr-18 | Last updated 5-Apr-18
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There is a loftier ambition than merely to stand high in the world. It is to stoop down and lift mankind a little higher.

Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) American clergyman and writer
“Salt,” Counsels by the Way (1921 ed.)
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Added on 13-Dec-17 | Last updated 13-Dec-17
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Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition.

Barack Obama (b. 1961) American politician, US President (2009-2017)
Commencement Address, Knox College, Galesburg, IL (4 Jun 2005)
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Added on 6-Sep-17 | Last updated 6-Sep-17
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Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to “jump at de sun.” We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Dust Tracks on a Road, ch. 2 “My Folks” (1942)
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Added on 23-Aug-17 | Last updated 23-Aug-17
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The soul that has no fixed goal loses itself; for as they say, to be everywhere is to be nowhere.

[L’âme qui n’a point de but établi, elle se perd: car comme on dit, c;est n’ètre en aucun lieu que d’être partout.]

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
Essays, Book 1, ch. 8 “Of Idleness” (1580-88) [tr. Frame (1943)]
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Alt. trans.: "The soul that has no established aim loses itself, for, as it is said, 'He who lives everywhere, lives nowhere.'" [tr. Cotton (1877)]

Alt. trans.: "When the soul is without a definite aim, she gets lost; for, as they say, if you are everywhere you are nowhere." [tr. Screech (1987)]

The proverb referenced is Martial.
Added on 14-Jul-17 | Last updated 14-Jul-17
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An aim in life is the only fortune worth the finding; and it is not to be found in foreign lands, but in the heart itself.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
The Amateur Emigrant, ch. 4 “Steerage Types” (1895)
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Added on 30-Jun-17 | Last updated 30-Jun-17
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The aims of life are the best defense against death.

Primo Levi (1919-1987) Italian Jewish chemist and writer
The Drowned and the Saved (1988)
Added on 16-Jun-17 | Last updated 16-Jun-17
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A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man by one which is lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other, ambition. Ambition is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Life Thoughts (1858)
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Sometimes misattributed to Marcus Aurelius.
Added on 17-May-17 | Last updated 17-May-17
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Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.

kierkegaard-most-men-pursue-pleasure-hurry-past-wist_info-quote

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
Either/Or, Vol. 1 “Diapsalmata” (1843) [tr. Swenson (1959)]
Added on 4-Jan-17 | Last updated 4-Jan-17
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What you get by reaching your goals is not nearly so important as what you become by reaching them.

ziglar-what-you-become-by-reaching-them-wist_info-quote

Hilary Hinton "Zig" Ziglar (1926-2012) American author, salesperson, motivational speaker
Biscuits, Fleas, and Pump Handles (1974)

Ziglar used multiple variations of this phrase. Also attributed to Goethe and Thoreau. For more discussion see here.
Added on 30-Dec-16 | Last updated 30-Dec-16
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What refuge is there for the victim who is oppressed with the feeling that there are a thousand new books he ought to read, while life is only long enough for him to attempt to read a hundred?

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
Over the Teacups, ch. 7 (1891)
Added on 29-Dec-16 | Last updated 29-Dec-16
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Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.

Lombardi - we can catch excellence - wist_info quote

Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) American football coach
(Attributed)
Added on 2-Sep-16 | Last updated 2-Sep-16
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An occasional glance at the obituary column of The Times has suggested to me that the sixties are very unhealthy; I have long thought that it would exasperate me to die before I had written this book, and so it seemed to me that I had better set about it at once. When I have finished it I can face the future with serenity, for I shall have rounded off my life’s work.

W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) English novelist and playwright [William Somerset Maugham]
The Summing Up, ch. 3 (1938)
Added on 6-Jul-16 | Last updated 6-Jul-16
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You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.

Yogi Berra (1925-2015) American baseball player, coach, manager [b. Lawrence Peter Berra]
(Attributed)

Variants:
  • "If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there."
  • "If you don't know where you're going, you'll wind up somewhere else."
Added on 22-Apr-16 | Last updated 22-Apr-16
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We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.

Chuck Palahniuk (b. 1962) American novelist and freelance journalist
Diary [Grace] (2003)
Added on 24-Jul-15 | Last updated 24-Jul-15
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Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
Added on 18-May-15 | Last updated 18-May-15
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I am very sure that any man of common understanding may, by proper culture, care, attention and labor, make himself whatever he pleases, except a great poet.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (9 Oct 1746)
Added on 7-May-15 | Last updated 7-May-15
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The companion before the road, and the road before the destination. But without the destination there is no road, and without the road there is no companion.

Abdal Hakim Murad (b. 1960) British Muslim shaykh, researcher, writer, academic [b. Timothy John Winter]
“Contentions 2,” # 7
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Added on 24-Apr-15 | Last updated 24-Apr-15
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The great and glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live to purpose; all other things, to reign, to lay up treasure, to build, are, at most, but little appendices and props.

Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) French essayist
“Of Experience,” Essays, Vol 3, ch. 13 [ed. Hazlitt, tr. Cotton]
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Added on 6-Apr-15 | Last updated 6-Apr-15
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Man seeks objectives that enable him to convert the attainment of every goal into a means for the attainment of a new and more desirable goal. The ultimate objective in such a sequence cannot be obtainable; otherwise its attainment would put an end to the process. An end that satisfies these conditions is an ideal …. Thus the formulation and pursuit of ideals is a means by which to put meaning and significance into his life and into the history of which he is part.

Russell L. Ackoff (1919-2009) American organizational theorist, consultant, management scientist
On Purposeful Systems, Vol. 6 (1972) [with R Lincoln and F Emery]
Added on 26-Feb-15 | Last updated 26-Feb-15
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He who is outside the door has already a good part of his journey behind him.

Other Authors and Sources
Dutch proverb
Added on 12-Jan-15 | Last updated 12-Jan-15
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One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
‘Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
‘Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) American author and poet.
“‘Tis the Set of the Sail” (1916)
Added on 12-Nov-14 | Last updated 12-Nov-14
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“What,” asked Mr. Croup, “do you want?”
“What,” asked the marquis de Carabas, a little more rhetorically, “does anyone want?”
“Dead things,” suggested Mr. Vandemar. “Extra teeth.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
Neverwhere (1996)
Added on 24-Jul-14 | Last updated 24-Jul-14
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Doubtless he had an ideal, but it was the ideal of a practical statesman, — to aim at the best, and to take the next best, if he is lucky enough to get even that.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
“Abraham Lincoln, 1864-1865” (1869)
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Printed in The North American Review, #222 (Jan 1869) under the title "Before and After." Sometimes given as "The idea of a practical statesman is to aim ...."
Added on 2-Jul-14 | Last updated 2-Jul-14
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What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
Speech, Dundee (10 Oct 1908)
Added on 26-May-14 | Last updated 25-Apr-17
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If you would hit the mark, you must aim a little above it.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“Elegiac Verse,” In the Harbor (1882)

See Emerson.
Added on 15-Dec-08 | Last updated 30-Jun-17
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Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [tr. Collins (1928)]

Alt. trans.: "The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress." [tr. Paul Auster (1983)]
Added on 9-Dec-08 | Last updated 24-Jan-17
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Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.

Horace Mann (1796-1859) American educator
Baccalaureate address, Antioch College, Ohio (1859)

Final public address.
Added on 13-Feb-08 | Last updated 16-Jun-17
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You might have been enough the man you are
With striving less to be so.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Coriolanus, Act 3, sc. 2, l. 19 (1609)
Added on 14-Oct-05 | Last updated 26-May-16
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My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that’s nice too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about the success.

Helen Hayes (1900-1993) American actress
Reader’s Digest (1958)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Jun-17
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Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable; however, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (24 May 1750)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Feb-15
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Happiness is not the end of life, character is.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Life Thoughts: Gathered from the Extemporaneous Discourses of Henry Ward Beecher (1858)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-Aug-16
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We aim above the mark to hit the mark.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Nature,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 30-Jun-17
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In the long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American philosopher and writer
Walden, “Economy” (1854)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-Jul-17
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Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.

Garrison Keillor (b. 1942) American entertainer, author
Lake Wobegon Days (1985)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-May-14
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