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17 Ancient Quotes that can Fuel Your Success

17 Ancient Quotes that can Fuel Your Success

Often we rush after the latest idea, the great new method or the solution no one has ever considered. But throughout history wise people have recorded timeless wisdom.

Time management, personal relationships, mindset, comfort zones and perseverance were not unknown to ancient leaders. In fact most of the principles of success we employ today have been understood for many centuries. What you will find below are quotes from philosophers, kings, emperors, poets, lawyers, mathematicians, teachers and more. Every quote has been preserved for more that 1,000 years and still applies to your life today.

Here are 17 Ancient Quotes That Can Fuel Your Success:

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome. Lived from 121-180 AD.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
Socrates, classical Greek philosopher. Born 470 or 469 BC, died 399 BC.

“Happiness and freedom begin with one principle. Some things are within your control and some are not.”
Epictetus – Stoic philosopher. Lived from 55-155 AD.

“Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in few.”
Pythagoras, Ionian Greek mathematician and philosopher. Lived from 570-495 BC.

“Difficulties strengthen the mind as labor does the body.”
Seneca the Younger, Roman Stoic philosopher. Lived from 4BC-66AD.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher and lawyer. Lived 107-43 BC.

“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind and has given up worrying once and for all.”
Ovid, Roman poet. Born 43 BC, died 17 or 18 AD.

“Whoever walks with the wise will become wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.”
Solomon, second King of Israel. Lived 990-931 BC

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”
Confucius, Chinese teacher and philosopher. Lived 551-479 BC.

“Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.”
Heraclitus of Ephesus, Greek philosopher. Lived 535-475 BC.

“If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading.”
Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher and poet. (Note that Lao Tzu may not have been an actual person, but the quote is still valid.)

“Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.”
Plato, Greek philosopher and mathematician. Lived approximately 428-347 BC.

“Be still my heart; thou hast known worse than this.”
Homer, Greek author of the Illiad and the Odyssey. Dates of birth and death are unknown. Lived somewhere in the range of 1102-850 BC.

“They can conquer who believe they can.”
Virgil, Roman poet. Lived 70-19 BC.

“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.”
Tacitus, senator and historian of the Roman Empire. Lived 56-117 AD.

“So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus Christ

The quotes above demonstrate that the basic principles of success in life have never changed. Having the proper mindset, moving outside your comfort zone, developing and maintaining healthy relationships and keeping focus were recognized a thousand and more years ago. Human nature has not changed and the ways in which we succeed, by stepping out and helping others, remain as the foundation for personal progress.

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Following the works of a contemporary author or speaker may match more with your perspective or outlook and there is nothing wrong with that. But sometimes looking back into antiquity shows you the long view. Technologies and methods may change, but what it takes to succeed in the world remains constant.

Let me close with a quote from the mid 20th century that shows the importance of learning from those who have gone before.

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.”
General George S. Patton, Lived 1885-1945 AD

More by this author

Troy Stoneking

Troy is a coach and speaker who helps people develop amazing relationships and love their work.

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Last Updated on October 20, 2020

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future. Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

Bonus: Think Like a Rhino

More Tips for Procrastinators to Start Taking Action

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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