Nothing feels better than achieving your goals. To stand on top of a mountain that you once thought was insurmountable and look down at the path that you took… there’s just nothing like it.

But to achieve goals one must set them and, more importantly, remain focused. To set a goal without a plan and without focus is about as good as throwing a quarter into a wishing well.

How to set the right goals? More importantly, how to remain focused on them? This is the $64,000 question of self-improvement and self-actualization. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Fortunately, we have no shortage of men who have achieved great things who are willing to share their wisdom about how they transformed aspirations into goals — and goals into reality. Whether they be philosophers or titans of industry, one hallmark of men of achievement is that they are often willing to give back to those looking to blaze the same trails they did, if only in the form of a bit of wisdom to help them along the way.

When you sit down to make some goals, or if you feel yourself straying from the path, give a read to some of these quotes we’ve culled from some of the most accomplished figures in human history. They’ll help you to keep your head down when things get tough.

Quotes About Finding Focus and Staying Focused


Steve Jobs quote on focus


“Focusing is about saying No.”

Steve Jobs


Peter Drucker quote on focus


“Efficiency is doing things right; Effectiveness is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker


Lev Grossman quote on focus


“Busyness – that state of constant distraction that allows people to avoid difficult realities and maintain self deceptions.”

Lev Grossman, citing Søren Kierkegaard


Unknown quote on focus


“Starve your distractions, feed your focus.”



Zig Ziglar quote on focus


“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”

Zig Ziglar


Warren Buffett quote on focus


“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

Warren Buffett


Seneca quote on focus


“There is nothing that the busy man is less busy with then living; there is nothing harder to learn.”



W. Churchill quote on focus


“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”

Winston Churchill

Quotes About Achieving Your Goals

William James quote on focus

But it is their genius making them attentive, not their attention making geniuses of them. And, when we come down to the root of the matter, we see that they differ from ordinary men less in the character of their attention than in the nature of the objects upon which it is successively bestowed. In the genius, these form a concatenated series, suggesting each other mutually by some rational law. Therefore we call the attention ‘sustained’ and the topic of meditation for hours ‘the same.’ In the common man the series is for the most part incoherent, the objects have no rational bond, and we call the attention wandering and unfixed.”

William James


Robert Brault quote on focus


“We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”

Robert Brault


Teddy Roosevelt quote on focus


“Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.”

Theodore Roosevelt


Henry Ford quote on focus


“Obstacles are frightful things when you take your eye off your goal.”

Henry Ford


Paulo Coelho quote on focus

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”

Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym


Mark Twain quote on focus

“To live a fulfilled life, we need to keep creating the “what is next”, of our lives. Without dreams and goals there is no living, only merely existing, and that is not why we are here.”

Mark Twain


Henry David Thoreau quote on focus

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

Henry David Thoreau


Michael Phelps quote on focus


“I think goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time.”

Michael Phelps


Jeannette Walls quote on focus


“You were born to change the world; not add to the noise.”

Jeannette WallsThe Glass Castle


Walt Disney quote on focus


“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Walt Disney


Walt Disney quote on focus

“A person should set his goals as early as he can and devote all his energy and talent to getting there. With enough effort, he may achieve it. Or he may find something that is even more rewarding. But in the end, no matter what the outcome, he will know he has been alive.”

Walt Disney


Tony Robbins quote on focus


“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”

Tony Robbins


Jordan Peterson quote on focus

“You hear the egalitarian clarion call everywhere – ‘Everything should be equal, everything should be equally distributed, we should strive for equity.’ Wrong, especially if you’re a conservative. What we want, instead, are just hierarchies of competence. Not everyone’s a neurosurgeon, you know? If your father has a brain tumor, you probably want a hierarchy of competence for neurosurgeons, so you can pick the one that’s the best.”

“For the postmodernist, there’s no hierarchy that isn’t based on power, because they think the world runs on power. And that’s why they’re willing to use power to get what they want, because it’s the only thing they believe in. We need the best plumbers. We need the best contractors. We need the best carpenters. We need the best lecturers. There has to be a hierarchy of quality. Not only so that we know who the best are and can reward them properly, but so that we can reward them so they keep being the best.”

“If you have a great educator, if you have a great leader, if you have a great thinker, you want to reward them so they keep thinking and they keep educating. So they can tell you something. It’s not a reward for their intrinsic being. It’s a calculated move on your part, to [take] everything out of them that’s valuable as fast as you can. That’s what a hierarchy of competence is for.”

“Our hierarchies of competence are reasonably functional. And not only are they functional, they’re valuable. We need to know who the competent people are, and we need to reward them. And even more importantly, we need to tell young people, ‘Hey, there’s some hierarchies of competence out there. Like a thousand of them. Go be a plumber, man – but be a good one, be an honest one.'”

“We don’t need people to cause more trouble. We need people to solve problems. You can be a tradesman, and you can make a lot of money as a tradesperson. It’s a bloody reliable, honorable, forthright, productive way of making a living. And there is a hell of a lot of difference between a working man who knows what he’s doing, and one who doesn’t, both in terms of skill and ethics. Someone who knows what they’re doing – they tell you what they’re gonna do. They tell you how much it will cost. They go and do it. It works. And you pay them. Perfect. Everyone’s happy. That’s what happens when you have genuine hierarchies of competence. And so, you listen to these panderers of egalitarianism and equity, and they fail to recognize completely that there are differences in rank between people.

“There are lots of hierarchies to attempt to climb, and if you fail in one, go try in another. But the point is, you’re still trying to aim for the top. What the hell are you gonna do if you don’t try to aim for the top, you know? Flap about uselessly, and whine about your life? It’s not helpful. It’ll just make you miserable. You’re not reliable to anyone. You can’t help out in a crisis.”

I don’t care what you’re gonna do, but go out there and make something of yourself, for God’s sake. Be an honest person, and work, and get to the top of whatever it is that you want to get to the top of. And stand up for yourself, like a respectable human being. Be a little bit of a light on the world, instead of a blight. You can tell young people that. They haven’t been told that by anyone now. The young men are so hungry for that, that it’s painful to watch.”

“I went to Harvard a month ago, I used to teach there. I talked to a bunch of students, and I told them, ‘It’s not easy to get into Harvard, you’re a valedictorian if you’re at Harvard. And not only are you a valedictorian, you’re way better than most people at at least two other things – or you don’t get in. Here you are at Harvard. Get yourself educated, man. Read some books. Learn to talk. Learn to think. Make yourself into something. Get the hell out there and make the world that put you here happy that you were put there, in that great institution.’ They came up to me afterwards and said, ‘God, I wish someone would have told us that when we were in our first year.’ It’s like, Jesus, why didn’t someone tell them that? For God’s sake, it’s supposed to be the greatest university in the world. Is it so difficult to figure that out? Well, it is, if that isn’t what you want to have happen in the university. You want to make cringing milksops who whine about being victims, while they’re going to Ivy League institutions. Jesus, it’s pathetic.”

Jordan Peterson