Quotations about   goals

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What you have become is the price you paid to get what you used to want.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Complete Neurotic’s Notebook (1981)
Added on 29-Jul-21 | Last updated 29-Jul-21
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Our responsibility is not discharged by an announcement of virtuous ends. Our responsibility is to achieve these objectives with social invention, with political skill, and executive vigor. I believe for these reasons, that liberalism is our best and our only hope in the world today.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Liberal Party Nomination, New York (14 Sep 1960)
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Added on 4-Nov-20 | Last updated 4-Nov-20
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So it is not a matter of whether it is possible to attain Buddhahood, or if it is possible to make a tile a jewel. But just to work, just to live in this world with this understanding is the most important point, and that is our practice. That is true zazen.

Shunryū Suzuki (1905-1971) Japanese Zen Buddhist master
Lecture in Los Altos, California (1 Sep 1967)
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Added on 2-Jul-20 | Last updated 2-Jul-20
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CHARLIE MCCARTHY: Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy.

Edgar Bergen (1903-1978) American actor, radio performer, ventriloquist
(Attributed)
Added on 18-May-20 | Last updated 18-May-20
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It was better, he thought, to fail in attempting exquisite things than to succeed in the department of the utterly contemptible.

Arthur Machen (1863-1947) Welsh author and mystic
The Hill of Dreams, ch. 5 (1907)
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Added on 26-Jan-19 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Gay MacLaren, Morally We Roll Along (1938). A recollection of something Twain said to the author when she was a child. More information here.
Added on 9-Dec-15 | Last updated 13-Dec-17
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I have tried to make it clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Letter from Birmingham Jail (16 Apr 1963)
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Added on 31-Jul-15 | Last updated 31-Jul-15
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The man who sticks to his plan will become what he used to want to be.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten Second Essays, #349 (2001)
Added on 11-Jun-15 | Last updated 11-Jun-15
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There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.

Eric Hoffer (1902-1983) American writer, philosopher, longshoreman
The Passionate State of Mind: And Other Aphorisms (1955)
Added on 28-May-15 | Last updated 28-May-15
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A politician, for example, is a man who thinks of the next election; while the statesman thinks of the next generation.

James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888) American theologian and author
“Wanted, a Statesman!”, Old and New Magazine (Dec 1870)
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Often paraphrased: "A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation."
Added on 19-Sep-14 | Last updated 19-Sep-14
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Our ends will not be won by rhetoric and we can have faith in the future only if we have faith in ourselves.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
Added on 7-Jul-14 | Last updated 7-Jul-14
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Sooner or later, we are all asked to compromise ourselves and the things we care about. We define ourselves by our actions. With each decision, we tell ourselves and the world who we are. Think about what you want out of this life, and recognize that there are many kinds of success.

Bill Watterson (b. 1958) American cartoonist
Commencement Address, Kenyon College (20 May 1990)
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Added on 12-Dec-13 | Last updated 12-Dec-13
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There are two things to aim at in life: first, to get what you want; and, after that, to enjoy it. Only the wisest of mankind achieve the second.

Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) American-English essayist, editor, anthologist
Afterthoughts, “Life and Human Nature” (1931)
Added on 31-Dec-08 | Last updated 23-Jan-14
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Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see the beauty, believe in them and try to follow where they lead.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) American writer
Work: A Story of Experience ch. 12 [Christie] (1875)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
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Happiness is someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.

Other Authors and Sources
Chinese proverb

Also attributed to T. Bodett, S. Freud, A. Chalmers.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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The empty pageant; a stage play; flocks of sheep, herds of cattle; a tussle of spearmen; a bone flung among a pack of curs; a crumb tossed into a pond of fish; ants, loaded and laboring; mice, scared and capering; puppets, jerking on their strings — that is life. In the midst of it all you must take your stand, good-temperedly and without disdain, yet always aware that a man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions.

[Πομπῆς κενοσπουδία, ἐπὶ σκηνῆς δράματα, ποίμνια, ἀγέλαι, διαδορατισμοί, κυνιδίοις ὀστάριον ἐρριμμένον, ψωμίον εἰς τὰς τῶν ἰχθύων δεξαμενάς, μυρμήκων ταλαιπωρίαι καὶ ἀχθοφορίαι, μυιδίων ἐπτοημένων διαδρομαί, σιγιλλάρια νευροσπαστούμενα. χρὴ οὖν ἐν τούτοις εὐμενῶς μὲν καὶ μὴ καταφρυαττόμενον ἑστάναι, παρακολουθεῖν μέντοι, ὅτι τοσούτου ἄξιος ἕκαστός ἐστιν, ὅσου ἄξιά ἐστι ταῦτα περὶ ἃ ἐσπούδακεν.]

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 7, #3 [tr. Staniforth (1964)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

Public shows and solemnities with much pomp and vanity, stage plays, flocks and herds; conflicts and contentions: a bone thrown to a company of hungry curs; a bait for greedy fishes; the painfulness, and continual burden-bearing of wretched ants, the running to and fro of terrified mice: little puppets drawn up and down with wires and nerves: these be the objects of the world. among all these thou must stand steadfast, meekly affected, and free from all manner of indignation; with this right ratiocination and apprehension; that as the worth is of those things which a man doth affect, so is in very deed every man's worth more or less.
[tr. Casaubon (1634)]

Gazing after triumphs, and cavalcades; the diversions of the stage; farms well stocked with flocks and herds; contests for victory in the field; these are the little pleasures, and concerns of mortals. Would you have a farther illustration, and see an image of them elsewhere? Fancy then that you saw two or three whelps quarrelling about a bone; fishes scrambling for a bait; pismires in a peck of troubles about the carriage of a grain of wheat; mice frighted out of their wits; and scouring cross the room; poppets dancing upon a wire, etc. And after all, though humane life is but ordinary, and trifling, a wise man must be easy and good-humored, and not grow splenetic, or haughty upon the contemplation. Remembering notwithstanding, that the true bulk and bigness of a man, is to be measured by the size of his business, and the quality of his inclinations.
[tr. Collier (1701)]

The idle business of show, plays on the stage, flocks of sheep, herds, exercises with spears, a bone cast to little dogs, a bit of bread into fishponds, laborings of ants and burden-carrying, runnings about of frightened little mice, puppets pulled by strings—[all alike]. It is thy duty then in the midst of such things to show good humor and not a proud air; to understand however that every man is worth just so much as the things are worth about which he busies himself.
[tr. Long (1862)]

Gazing after shows, the diversions of the stage, farms well stocked with flocks and herds, contests for victory in the field are all much the same. So, too, a bone thrown to puppies, fishes scrambling for a bait, ants laboriously carrying a grain of wheat, mice frighted out of their wits and running away, puppets danced upon a wire. And in the midst of them a wise man must be good-humored, and not grow haughty in the contemplation. Remembering, notwithstanding, that the true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues.
[tr. Zimmern (1887)]

A procession's vain pomp, plays on a stage, flocks, herds, sham fights, a bone thrown to puppies, a crumb into fishponds, toiling and moiling of ants carrying their loads, scurrying of startled mice, marionettes dancing to strings. Well, then, you must stand up in all this, kindly and not carrying your head proudly; yet understand that every man is worth just so much as the worth of what he has set his heart upon.
[tr. Farquharson (1944)]

Pointless bustling of processions, opera arias, herds of sheep and cattle, military exercises. A bone flung to pet poodles, a little food in the fish tank. The miserable servitude of ants, scampering of frightened mice, puppets jerked on strings. Surrounded as we are by all of this, we need to practice acceptance. Without disdain. But remembering that our own worth is measured by what we devote our energy to.
[tr. Hays (2003)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Mar-21
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