Work ethic quotes to keep you motivated while everyone else is on vacation

Wish you were here

We know, we know. It’s summertime and you’re wondering why you’re working tirelessly trying to grow your business while everyone else is on vacation. It can be hard to stay motivated when you’re getting wish-you-were-here-type postcards from clients and coworkers, as you wait for your own long-overdue getaway or just for 5 p.m. to roll around so you can enjoy the sun. But summer doesn’t have to be a slow season. Here are some work ethic quotes to inspire your passion and productivity through the summer slump.

work ethic quotes vacation

When work is not fun

The pull of summer can make any job, even a job you truly love, feel like a chore. As J.M Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan put it:

“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”

The problem with summer is that it reminds us of everything else we’d rather be doing.

It’s easy to be discouraged and distracted when it seems like everyone but you is on vacation, but chances are you chose the job you have because there’s something about it that moves you. The poet Maya Angelou suggests that the wellsprings inside of us don’t run dry easily: “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

If the small stuff has you down, see if you can find a way to exercise the talents that brought you to your job in the first place — like your charm, your sublime strategic brain, your eye for design. This can help put you in touch with your talents again, and give you some much-needed joy in your work.

“You’ve achieved success in your field when you don’t know whether what you’re doing is work or play.” ~ Warren Beatty

That’s easy for an actor to say, but there’s something in there we can all use. And if you come up empty, consider Bette Davis’ litmus test: “To fulfill a dream, to be allowed to sweat over lonely labor, to be given a chance to create, is the meat and potatoes of life. The money is the gravy.”

How to deal with failure

Our working lives are riddled with setbacks, but those stings can feel sharper when you would already rather be lounging on a beach somewhere. But just because a failure hits particularly hard doesn’t mean it’s any more damaging. In fact, the real damage might come from letting yourself become discouraged.

The great industrialist Soichiro Honda put it this way:

“To me success can be achieved only through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents 1 percent of your work which results only from the 99 percent that is called failure.”

If summer is making the slings and arrows of routine failure unbearable, it might be worth remembering how crucial the ability to deal with failure is to sustained success.

Former President Barack Obama notes some of the pitfalls we face when we fail: “The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.”

While the added annoyance of the heat, the boredom, and a million enviable vacation photos on Instagram may tempt us to throw our hands in the air, it’s important to avoid becoming discouraged.

Give yourself a break to reflect on your failure rather than agonize over it at work.


Schedule you-time into your day. Take a walk. Get a massage. Go to the dog park. Just invest some time and effort into doing something nice for yourself to foster the right mental state to learn and grow from your missteps.

How to deal with opponents

Sometimes summer can bring out the worst in those around us. Temperatures rise and tempers flare. Just because it’s bright and sunny outside the office doesn’t mean the same is true inside.

What to do when coworkers, even superiors, fail to rise above their baser instincts? Indira Gandhi, the first female Prime Minister of India, advised taking the high road:

“My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group; there was much less competition.”

Unfortunately, you might sometimes find the high road blocked. What can you do when sticking to your principles and to the task at hand isn’t enough to overcome opposition? Legendary news anchor David Brinkley notes that sometimes real adversaries, not just general adversity, can bring out our best: “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him.”

If you can, take advantage of your detractors’ attacks to see where you’re vulnerable to criticism, and where you might turn a weakness into a strength.

Stay cool with these work ethic quotes

It isn’t always easy to stay cool during a summer slump. Hopefully these work ethic quotes offer a sip of inspiration to help you get in touch with your inner drive again. To recap:

  • Make sure you love what you do so work doesn’t feel so much like work.
  • Tap into your wellspring of creativity to keep it flowing.
  • Make time to reflect on failures … away from work.
  • Learn and grow from those missteps, instead of getting discouraged.
  • Take the high road with overheated coworkers.
  • Make lemonade out of the lemons that others throw at you.

And then, schedule a vacation.

Image by: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Meredith Wood
Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Prior to Fundera, Meredith was the CCO at Funding Gates. She is a resident Finance Advisor on American Express OPEN Forum and an avid business writer. Her advice consistently appears on such sites as Yahoo!, Fox Business, Amex OPEN, AllBusiness, and many more. Meredith is also the Senior Financial and B2B Correspondent for AlleyWire.