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  • Ali Boston

Ten inspirational meaningful work quotes

It's human nature to look for meaning in our daily lives—work is no exception. We've put together our favorite meaningful work quotes to help you explore what work means to you.

A man with a backpack on wanders a city.

Human beings are storytellers. We can’t help but search for meaning from our day-to-day experiences. Viktor Frankl, is a renowned Austrian psychiatrist, philosopher and one of the most influential thinkers on meaning. In Man’s Search for Meaning, he concludes that human beings have a profound capacity to shape how we perceive—and draw meaning from—experiences in our own lives. Frankl writes: “The meaning of life is to give your life meaning."

Work is no different. We spend a huge portion of our lives at work, so it makes sense that we want to use our time doing something that matters to us.

But pinning down what exactly meaningful work is can be tricky, as the answer will be unique to each individual. We’ve put together our favorite quotes about meaning at work to inspire you as you explore what meaningful work means to you. 

Psst: Take the first step in exploring what matters to you at work. Download your free Self-Assessment Starter from our Resources page now. 

A man and woman intently look at a computer screen in an office.

“I believe work can be awesome for everyone. The secret is to find meaning in what we do.”

—Ross Reekie (watch Ross’ TED talk on meaningful work here)  


“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life.’”

—Maya Angelou 


“The true purpose of your work is to help you discover that which you love: work is for love. And the purpose of love is to help you learn where and how you can contribute: love is for work.

—Marcus Buckingham, Love + Work  (check out our review here


“Plenty of people have dreams, after all, but many do nothing to actually accomplish them.”

—Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning 


“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself.”

—Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning  

A woman in a broad brimmed hat looks to the horizon at sunset.

“Working is about the search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”

— Studs Terkel, Working 


“What makes work fun? It’s not what you might think. It’s not one unending office party. It’s not getting paid a lot of money. It’s not having multiple weeks of paid vacations. Work is fun when you are actually leaning into your strengths and are deeply engaged and energized by what you’re doing.”

—Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, Designing Your Life (take a look at our review here.) 


“Your fullest life, then, is one where your loves and your work flow in an infinite loop. The energy of one fuels the energy of the other. Thus, the only way you’ll make a lasting contribution in life is to deeply understand what it is that you love. And the inverse: you’ll never live a life you love unless you deeply understand how to contribute to others.”

—Marcus Buckingham, Love + Work 


“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson  


“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

—Albert Einstein

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Image credit: Unsplash


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