101 Personal Mottos To Live By (And How To Choose One)

Have you noticed that most organizations and major companies have mottos and slogans?

These usually represent a core value, ranging from integrity and dependability to motivation and self-acceptance.

Many of them are as simple as the Boy Scouts’ always be prepared or AA’s progress, not perfection.

One common theme is that they’re both easy to remember, and immensely powerful.

Why Have A Personal Motto Anyway?

Think of a personal motto as a sort of mantra.

You might choose one that keeps encouraging you to be the person you want to be, even when you’re going through a difficult time.

Or, it might help to soothe your soul in the midst of chaos, or remind you to see joy in every situation.

It could even be used to calm anxiety or stop negative self-talk, especially if you find yourself being overly self-critical.

Whenever you feel yourself falter, or you just need a little pick-me-up to lift your spirits and inspire you, you can return to that motto, and it’ll give you just the boost you need.

If you’re reading this piece, it’s likely because you’re at some kind of crossroads in your life and you’d like a phrase to motivate you.

Maybe you’re dealing with a difficult situation that can’t be avoided, and you need to muscle through it.

Or you’re striving toward a goal and need encouragement to keep going.

You might even be trying to live more authentically, and could use some reassurance that your choices are the right ones for you.

Whatever it is, good for you!

Life can be really challenging, and every action we take toward greater peace, happiness, and fulfillment deserves acknowledgement.

How Do I Choose My Personal Motto?

There are as many personal mottos out there as there are people scampering around on the planet’s surface.

As a result, finding one that suits your personality can seem like an overwhelming endeavor.

After all, there are so many great ideas out there – how can you possibly choose just one?

Here’s an idea: aim for a personal motto that best encompasses where you are right now.

I often reiterate that we’re not the same today as we were last year, and we won’t be the same person a year from now. 

So, you don’t need to stress about looking for a personal motto that will be perfect for you today as well as 50 years in the future.

Sure, if you come across one that really fits well, then that’s great! Just remember that you can choose a different motto whenever you feel the need to.

As an example, my current motto is courage and compassion, which I feel is quite noble, and can encompass a wide range of life scenarios and experiences.

If you’d like to come up with your own motto, think about which theme/subject means the most to you at this point in your life.

Then, brainstorm a ton of words and phrases associated with that subject. Loose associations are fine: let your unconscious take over.

You might find you’ve written out a phrase that means just the right thing to you.

Or even a few words that work together harmoniously.

Barring that, there are countless quotations, song lyrics, poems, etc. that you can choose from.

When you’ve found one (or a few) that you like, print it up in a favorite typeface, or write it out in your own hand, and hang it on your wall.

If it makes you feel good every time you read it, you have a winner.

If you’re a bit meh about it, try a few others until you find a better fit.

We’ve amassed some below that may help to inspire you.

Although some of them may reference a particular gender, their wording can easily be adapted to neutral pronouns.

12 Mottos For Resilience And Positivity

He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How. – Friedrich Nietzsche

It always seems impossible until it’s done. You can do it.

We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated. – Maya Angelou

Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny. – C.S. Lewis

If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

The secret of life is to fall seven times and to get up eight times. – from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho

Throw me to the wolves, and I’ll return leading the pack.

Tomorrow is another day.

Mistakes are often the greatest teachers.

Live life. Learn lessons. Liberate yourself.

Take in the good.

10 Mottos For Happiness And Fulfillment

It is okay to live a life that others don’t understand.

Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for it to happen, and take steps to make it happen.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. – J.R.R. Tolkien

When you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine.

Negative thoughts will never give you a positive life.

The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open. – Chuck Palahniuk

The best way to cheer yourself is to try to cheer someone else up. – Mark Twain

Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely. – Roy T. Bennett

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. – Marthe Troly-Curtin

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts. – Marcus Aurelius

9 Mottos For Kindness And Compassion

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou.

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.  – Emily Dickinson

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

A life spent helping others is a life filled with purpose.

Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them. – Dalai Lama XIV

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. – Mahatma Gandhi

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. – Aesop

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind. – Henry James

No one has ever become poor by giving. – Anne Frank

11 Mottos For Motivation

Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.

Live each day as if it were your last.

Vision without action is just a daydream.

Do what you don’t want to do, so you can do what you love.

Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)

Do or do not. There is no try. – Yoda, from Star Wars

Don’t be busy: be productive.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. – Galadriel, from The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Today, I choose to be the best version of myself.

Learn to value yourself, which means: fight for your happiness.  – Ayn Rand

Just keep swimming. – Dory, from Finding Nemo

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8 Mottos For Self-Discipline

You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.

The grass is green where you water it.

Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. – Henry Ward Beecher

No person is free who is not master of themselves.

The discomfort of self-discipline will never be as great as the pain of regret.

With every step I get closer to my goal.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. – Jim Rohn

The pain you feel today is the strength you will feel tomorrow.

10 Mottos For Gratitude

We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses. – Alphonse Karr

There is always something to be grateful for.

Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears. – John Lennon

A grateful heart is the foundation for all other virtues.

Start each day with a positive thought and a grateful heart. – Roy T. Bennett

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. – Thich Nhat Hanh

Gratitude; my cup overfloweth.

Enough is as good as a feast.

May the gratitude in my heart kiss all the universe. – Hafez

The struggle ends when gratitude begins. – Neale Donald Walsch

10 Mottos For Courage

Sometimes, life is about risking everything for a dream nobody can see but you.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Don’t panic. – Douglas Adams

Comfort zones are cozy, but nothing ever grows there.

He who has conquered his own coward spirit has conquered the whole outward world. – Thomas Hughes

Have courage, and be kind.

Courage is not the absence of fear: it is the ability to act in the presence of fear. – Bruce Lee

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Have the courage to be who you are.

To dare is to do.

8 Mottos For Hope

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

Never lose hope. Storms make people stronger and never last forever. – Roy T. Bennett

In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. – Anne Frank

You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream. – CS Lewis

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. – Stephen King

There is nothing like a dream to create the future. – from Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo

When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hold on. – Theodore Roosevelt

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all. – Emily Dickinson

7 Mottos For Healthy Boundaries/Self Care

Don’t set yourself on fire to keep other people warm.

Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love deeply and unconditionally.

Don’t say ‘maybe’ if you want to say ‘no’. – Paulo Coelho

This above all: to thine own self be true. – William Shakespeare

Never dim someone else’s light so you can shine.

Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are. – Brené Brown

Switch off. Recharge. Reboot.

9 Mottos For Love

You cannot save other people, but you can love them.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. – William Shakespeare

We accept the love we think we deserve. – Stephen Chbosky

Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time. – Maya Angelou

Friendship is the foundation of love. If love fails, friendship should remain.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  – 1 Corinthians 13:13

We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love. – Mother Teresa

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

7 Mottos For Faith

Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.

Don’t lose faith in people. A few dirty drops of water don’t pollute the entire ocean.

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies. – Mother Teresa

Stand straight, walk proud, have a little faith. – Garth Brooks

Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into. – Mahatma Gandhi

Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking. – Kahlil Gibran

Never stop believing that good things are coming.

About Author

Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.