When you’re stuck in the deep, dark trenches of studying … an uplifting quote can be just the trick for a well-timed motivational boost. So let’s let a little light in and rediscover all the progress you’ve made with some inspiring words, like these:

“Behold the turtle! He makes progress only when his neck is out.”

popular saying from world War 2

This uplifting collection, packed with 55 more powerful progress quotes guarantees to:

  • Show you that slow and steady CAN get you there – be a tortoise, not a hare!
  • Encourage you to embrace your growth and keep moving towards your goals
  • Be a reminder that you’re “never gonna give [you] up” – celebrate your achievements with a boogie too!

Is there a quote about making progress that always inspires YOU? Let us know in the comments!

Quotes to help you define progress

So what exactly is “progress” when it comes down to it? How are you going to recognise it in your studies or revision?

Happily, these 7 quotes from inspirational figures have some great advice for pinpointing what progress means to you, and where and how you can make progress in your life:

1. Make sure you’re on the right road

quotes about progress

“Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turn, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”

– C.S. Lewis, British author and theologian

Accepting you’ve taken the wrong path might be uncomfortable – but these wise words from The Chronicles of Narnia author C.S. Lewis are sure to give you courage!

Turn back, get your bearings, and remember that there is (almost always) a chance to put things right and progress towards your goals!

2. Knowledge is power, so keep on studying!

“Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.”

– Kofi Annan, Ghanaian diplomat and former Secretary-General of the United Nations

Getting an education might seem endless right now, BUT doing well in your studies will help to define the path you take in life.

And the more you know, the more opportunities are open for you – so reach out and make the most of your education.

And you’ll soon be making progress towards the person you want to be!

3. You’ve got to want it

“The greater part of progress is the desire to progress.”

– Seneca the Younger, Ancient Roman Stoic philosopher

It was true 2000 years ago, and it’s still true now. If you don’t want it enough to put in the effort, you’re not going to make much progress!

4. Keep moving ….

“Progress grows out of motion.”

– Richard E. Byrd, American naval officer and explorer

You’ve got to get moving towards your goals to make any progress. Byrd himself kept pushing towards his goals: the North and South Poles! Two places you definitely can’t reach without continual development and growth.

5. … and make sure that movement is progress

“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.”

Alfred A. Montapert, American author and philosopher

Here’s a word of warning though: just because it feels like you’re moving, it doesn’t mean you’re making progress.

Perhaps you’re filling your days with “busy work” and not actually tackling the first step towards writing your next paper. Or perhaps you’re re-revising a Biology unit that you are confident you know – instead of practicing tricky maths equations.

Don’t fool yourself. Make sure the effort you’re putting in will help you progress in your life and studies!

6. You have to persevere

“True progress quietly and persistently moves along without notice.”

– Saint Francis de Sales, former Bishop of Geneva

Sure, you’re stuck in the trenches of revision. But in a week’s time, perhaps you’ll notice how much progress you made this week, even if it doesn’t feel that way today.

Practicing the right kind of revision methods – like spaced learning, retrieval practice and interleaving are sure to help you cement that new knowledge into your memory in time for exams.

7. Keep learning new things

“Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing towards what will be.”

– Khalil Gibran, Lebanese writer, poet and artist

Quotes to remind you how to make progress possible

Whether it’s getting started, making changes or working with intention – these next 10 inspiring quotes are full of tips to help you make progressing towards your goals your reality!

8. Let’s start at the very beginning…

quotes about progress

“The secret of making progress is to get started.”

– Mark Twain, American writer and humourist

Whether you’re sitting down to write an essay or revise the next Chemistry module, getting started can be tricky. Blank pages are daunting!

Mark Twain was once called “the father of American literature” (by William Faulkner). He was an incredibly prolific author, writing 28 books and over 100 short stories.

So I’m pretty confident that he knew the value of just getting started!

9. Try new things!

“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”

– Frank Zappa, American musician and songwriter

Are your normal study methods not really working for you any more?

Delve into some of our top articles on studying effectively, study tips, and exam prep hacks and to get a motivational boost and some killer new methods to max out your learning capabilities!

10. Change is key

“Progress is impossible without change.”

– Walt Disney, entrepreneur and animation pioneer

Sounds like Walt Disney and Frank Zappa both knew that it’s often necessary to make changes to make progress!

If you’re struggling to make progress, take a good hard look at your work habits. What could you change to improve your motivation or your study routine?

11. Don’t get too comfortable

“Comfort is the enemy of progress.”

– P.T. Barnum, American showman and businessman

If you really want to make progress, you’re going to need to push yourself. Change up your study habits and make sure what you choose to do isn’t just what you’ve always done, but the most effective methods possible!

12. Set your mind to it, and make progress your reality

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

– George Bernard Shaw, Irish playwright and political activist

13. Imperfect progress is better!

“A person who makes few mistakes makes little progress.”

– Bryant McGill, author

Striving for perfection is often a hindrance to working efficiently and progressing with your studies and goals.

Embrace your mistakes – let’s face it, we all make them!

14. Don’t get lost in the past

“I think it’s the end of progress if you stand still and think of what you’ve done in the past. I keep on.” – Leslie Caron, French-American actress

– Leslie Caron, French-American actress

Are you one of those people who endlessly ruminate on past successes and failures? I know I can be (if I let myself!).

So I know it’s important to keep my eyes fixed on my to-do list and what I’m trying to achieve!

15. One small step for man…

First steps are always the hardest but until they are taken the notion of progress remains only a notion and not an achievement.”

– Aberjhani, American historian and writer

Take that one small step for yourself, and one day you can look back at the one giant leap (perhaps even for mankind!) you’ve made. All by having the confidence to start and to make progress a reality, not just a notion!

16. Work with purpose and you can get there

“If you want to experience significant progress toward your goal, you need to be intentional about the work you’re doing every day.

– Anonymous

This popular quote can often be spotted floating around the internet – but perhaps that’s because it’s true.

Just as Seneca the Younger wrote about desiring progress, you also have to have to be intentional about the work you do to make it happen!

17. It’s an every day thing

“Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily.”

– Epictetus, Ancient Greek Stoic philosopher

Putting in the effort to make progress towards your goals cannot just be an occasional habit.

It’s an every day effort.

And if who you want to become is truly worth it to you – if you know the reason why you’re doing this – then every day effort: it’s worth it too.

Quotes that find meaning in making progress

Once you’ve made a start, it is important to recognise that progress is a journey.

What’s more, it may be a difficult and winding one (just think of Bilbo and his companions struggling to their destination in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit!).

But don’t fear, for these next inspiring quotes, from statesmen, writers and scientists, will keep you motivated by reminding you that making progress is a worthwhile effort that gives meaning to your work!

18. Make “success” a meaningful word

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

– Benjamin Franklin, American scientist, inventor and statesman

19. It’s a long, long journey

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.”

– Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of Great Britain

Think of it this way: you can always improve on your achievements.

Perhaps you’ve got the top grades at school, gotten into the top university of your choice. Congrats!

The wonderful thing is that there is always more you can strive for: a First at university, a Masters, a PhD, getting papers published, a post-doc, an innovative research fellowship, a revolutionary academic study … and that’s just taking academia as an example!

And that’s amazing, because there is so much we are all capable of.

20. There’s a world of possibilities out there

Progress changes consciousness, and when people’s consciousness changes, then their awareness of what is possible changes as well a virtuous circle.”

– Bill Clinton, former President of the United States of America

21. It’s not gonna be easy …

“I was taught the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.”

– Marie Curie, pioneering physicist and chemist

But is anything easy ever really worthwhile? It might take you time and effort, but in the end you can be proud of the progress you’ve made!

22. … And you might struggle

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”

– Frederick Douglass, African-American social reformer, abolitionist and statesman

But if you’ve struggled and you’ve still made progress (or better yet, achieved your goals) – then you can be proud knowing that you’ve pushed yourself and discovered that inner strength.

23. There will be compromises

“There is no progress or accomplishment without sacrifice.”

– Idowu Koyenikan, author and consultant

Sacrifice is a pretty big word.

But, if it comes down to it, and you need to give up Friday film night with your friends to fit in some extra revision or meet an important deadline – I’m pretty sure that will be worth it when you achieve your grades or submit a high-marking paper!

Long term satisfaction for short-term pain: is that a compromise you’re willing to make?

24. Don’t expect results without the work

“Excellence without effort is as futile as progress without preparation.”

– William Arthur Ward, American motivational writer

25. Stay true to yourself

“Each man must learn his own ideal and try to accomplish it: that is a surer way of progress than to take the ideas of another.”

– Romain Rolland, Nobel prize winning French dramatist and writer

Perhaps your parents dream of you becoming a doctor. And your society might prize a particular skill over another.

But if you know the reasons why you study, know what YOU want to achieve, then the motivational boost you gain from that knowledge is sure to push you to progress and achieve.

26. It all adds up

“A little progress every day adds up to big results.”

– attrib. to Satya Nani

Here’s another popular quote that’s right on the mark: every step you take, every effort you make will take you closer to your dreams – be that grades, a place on a course, a job … and this applies in all areas of life!

27. It’s a simple formula

“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.”

– Tanzanian proverb

Quotes that celebrate being a work in progress

Let’s face it, we’re all a work in progress.

Student, parent, teacher … master craftsman, celebrity: everyone has goals they’re striving for, something they want to improve or achieve, no matter what stage of life they’re at!

And accepting that idea can be a great inspiration to continue your journey.

So let these quotes – from some very successful people – encourage you to keep on improving yourself!

28. It’s not exclusive!

progress quotes

“You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress simultaneously.”

– Sophia Bush, American actress

It’s true – you can be so many things. So let Sophia Bush inspire a little confidence in yourself!

29. Everybody’s still learning

“Everybody’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress. I mean, I’ve never arrived. I’m still learning all the time.”

– Renée Fleming, Grammy Award-winning soprano

If a four-time Grammy Award winner can admit that she’s still learning and improving herself, then so can you.

Embrace it!

30. Just do your best for now

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”

– Mark Twain, American writer and humorist

Another important truth from Mark Twain, and one I often struggle with.

So if you, like me, often strive for perfect writing (perhaps, in essays or dissertations) – try not to be so hard on yourself. That’s the wonder of drafts: writing is a process, and you can always make progress and improve your work with editing and proofreading.

31. There’s always room to improve

“You’re always a work in progress. Flexibility. Personality, Motivation. There’s always room to improve.”

– Chalene Johnson, motivational author

32. Be your own person!

Don’t compare your progress to that of others. We need our own time to travel our own distance.”

– Anonymous

It’s just as Romain Rolland wrote (see #26 above) – staying true to your own ideal is far more important for your mental health, motivation and studies.

You might not make there as fast, and you might struggle more – but that in no way diminishes your progress and achievements!

Quotes to help you get a new perspective on your progress

It can be really difficult to see the progress you’ve made whilst your stuck in the thick of your work or studies.

Maybe you’ve suffered a setback, or don’t feel any closer to your goals.

So these quotes are perfect to remind you to step back and take a good hard look at everything you’ve achieved – so that you can celebrate your journey and keep going!  

33. Keep walking!

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”

Barack Obama, former President of the United States of America

34. Speed isn’t everything

“Keep going, and don’t worry about your speed. You’re making progress, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Forward is forward, no matter how slow.”

– Lori Deschene, self-help author

Remember Dory from Finding Nemo? Well, if you “just keep swimming” and putting in the effort to reach your goals, no matter how slowly, you CAN get there.

And I bet it will feel an even greater achievement to recognise your progress!

35. A failure isn’t the end

“Failure is success in progress.”

– Albert Einstein, revolutionary theoretical physicist

Plenty of successful people have written about failure – in fact you can find lots of inspiring quotes about overcoming failure in our study motivation quote collection.

If you fail, that means you have the knowledge to try again in a more effective manner – it’s part of the progress towards success. Think of Thomas Edison, who tried over 6,000 options for the electrical filament before finding a winning formula!

36. Just don’t stop

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

– Confucius, ancient Chinese philosopher and sage

37. Be slow – like the tortoise!

“Be not afraid of going slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”

– Chinese proverb

If you’re standing still you’re not developing as a person. So keep going, and keep progressing towards your future!

38. Take stock of your achievements

“The only time you should ever look back is to see how far you’ve come.”

– BTS, South Korean boy band

Trust me, looking back at all your progress and achievements is a powerful motivator!

39. Look back and celebrate your journey

“Always concentrate on how far you have come, rather than how far you have left to go. The difference in how easy it seems will amaze you.”

– attributed to Heidi Johnson

40. If you’re trying, you’re ahead of the pack

“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”

– Tony Robbins, American self-help author and business coach

41. Slow progress is still progress!

“Some quit due to slow progress. Never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.”

– Jeff Olson, author

42. Persevere

“Just because you aren’t making progress as fast as you think you should does not mean you aren’t making progress. Keep going.”

– Anonymous

43. Make the right choices

“Believe me, my journey has not been a simple journey of progress. There have been many ups and downs, and it is the choices that I made at each of those times that have helped shape what I have achieved.”

– Satya Nadella, CEO and chairman of Microsoft

Every journey has ups and downs, highlights and failures. Even a journey to becoming CEO of a hugely powerful, major tech company.

So make sure that when you find yourself at a low point in your journey, and you make an important decision – that it’s a decision to keep on trying to develop yourself.

44. Be brave

Courage means to keep making forward progress while you still feel afraid!”

– Joyce Meyer, Christian author

Taking the steps needed to make progress can be scary – it’s far easier to stay in your comfort zone.

But achieving what you want requires courage and effort, so be brave and take those steps!

45. Be kind

“Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”

– popularly attributed to Plato (from the dialogue Sophist), Ancient Greek philosopher

Be kind to yourself and others who are making progress slower that you think they should. Their efforts should be celebrated!

Quotes to encourage progress, not perfection!

You might have noticed a common theme above: that progress is still progress no matter how slow or wobbly your path. And on that path, striving for perfection is not helpful.

So next time you sit down to work or study, don’t panic about having a perfect, productive day: instead, consider that you’re going to make slow continuous progress towards your goals – and breathe!

46. Don’t build barriers to your progress

“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.”

– Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States of America

47. Strive for progress

“Pursuing perfection, rather than progress, can set you up for a life of disappointment and inevitable failure. Strive for progress, not perfection.

– Anonymous

Few things in life are perfect – because that’s life! So don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

Simply do your best in your work and studies, make the most of the resources for studying effectively, and watch as little by little your progress adds up (#26 and #27)!

48. Keep your focus

“Focus on progress not perfection.”

– Bill Phillips, fitness author

49. Know what’s important

“It’s not about success, it’s about progress.”

– Tony Robbins, American self-help author and business coach

Sure, success is attractive. But continuously making progress and developing yourself is truly important state of being.

50. Aim for personal growth

“Personal growth is about progress, not perfection.”

– Hal Elrod, self-help author

Quotes to remind you to keep growing

I hope that by now you have acknowledged and celebrated the progress you’ve made – use it to inspire you to keep growing and developing.

Because the belief that you can keep developing yourself is hugely important for learning and achievements – and it’s called “growth mindset”.

51. The key to happiness!

progress quotes

“The key to happiness is really progress and growth and constantly working on yourself and developing something.”

– Lewis Howes, writer

52. Flowing river or stagnant pond?

“The moment a man ceases to progress, to grow higher, wider and deeper, then his life becomes stagnant.”

– Orison Swett Marden, American author and positive thinking pioneer

53. Inspire yourself!

Actively recognizing progress towards your goal will ultimately end up inspiring you and have you pushing even harder.”

– attrib. to Denzel J. Wellington

Sometimes you need a little motivational boost (and a good quote often does the trick).

But why not recognise the inspiration you can offer yourself?

If it seems hard, make sure you’ve set out plenty of milestones and inch-pebble way-markers when setting up your goals. These will help you actively recognise the progress you’ve made – and ticking off a step always feels amazing AND encourages you to keep going.

54. Be willing to explore

“Progress and growth are impossible if you always do things the way you’ve always done things.”

– Wayne Dyer, self-help author and motivational speaker

You can make a huge difference to your studies if you’re simply willing to explore new way of learning.

And at Exam Study Expert, we love helping people study smarter by applying the science of memory and learning.

We even have two easy-to-read (and apply!) books on the subject: Outsmart Your Studies and Outsmart Your Exams.

55. Be proud of yourself

“Allow yourself to be proud of yourself and all the progress you’ve made. Especially the progress that no one else can see.”

– Anonymous

Always be proud of yourself. Be proud that you sat down and studied today, that you made a study schedule, that got a good grade. And that you’ve invested yourself in your education!

Feeling inspired to make some more progress?

I hope that these quotes have got you feeling ready to go make some progress with your work and studies. Good luck on your journey!

If you’re looking for more quotes to inspire your studies, we’ve compiled even MORE quotes all about exam inspiration, overcoming procrastination, growth mindset, and motivation and exam success!