19 Quotes to Inspire Self-Control, Focus, and Action

Tell me you haven’t had this happen to you.

You have an important project or exam and you really need to focus, but every time you sit down you just seem to get distracted.

It’s happened to me, hundreds, maybe even thousands of times.

No matter how important it is, sometimes it can be hard to focus on the task in front of us. We find ourselves constantly getting interrupted by social media, friends, other obligations, or even just unrelated thoughts that seem to pop up.

There are many reasons this could be. Sometimes we need to rest, others we need to eat. It could be that we need to strengthen our willpower, or that we need to improve our organizations kills.

On the other hand, there are occasions where all we need is a simple momentum boost. A little bit of motivation to kickstart our focus and get us back on track.

One effective way to do that is to think of a certain quote that motivates us to action.

For me, it’s the following quote from Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art.

“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”

This reminds me to stop overthinking and just get the job done. I return to this quote and it acts as an anchor to quiet my mind.

For you, it might be something different. Which is why I’ve compiled this list of 19 quotes to inspire self-control, focus, and action.


“The greatest challenge is to control oneself.” – Kazi Shams

“Don’t watch the clock; Do what it does. Keep going.” – Sam Levenson

“That’s been one of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs

“We aim above the mark to hit the mark.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Starve your distractions, feed your focus.” – Anonymous

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.” – Simone de Beauvoir

“Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power.” – James Allen

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham Bell

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius

“The opposite of love isn’t hate, it’s indifference.” – Steven Pressfield

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe

“We generate fears while we sit. We overcome them by action.” – Dr. Henry Link

“Self-control is a key factor in achieving success. We can’t control everything in life, but we can definitely control ourselves.” – Jan McKingley Hilado

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stow

“I cannot trust a man to control others if he cannot control himself.” – Robert E. Lee

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do…The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” – Steven Pressfield

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

What quotes motivate you to work? Comment and share on the Pick the Brain Facebook to inspire this drive in others!


Ben Fishel is a freelance writer and the creator of the blog Project Monkey Mind.

Head over to the blog for practical guides such as tips for focusing on your studies like a Zen master and how you can overcome rumination for good!


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.