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What Does ‘Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy’ Really Mean?

The old adage ‘nothing worth having comes easy’ conveys an important life lesson about achieving meaningful goals and accomplishments.

At its core, this phrase emphasizes that the most worthwhile endeavors often require immense effort, persistence, and patience. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question:

The saying means that substantial, long-lasting achievements demand hard work, determination, and sacrifice.

Valuable relationships, fulfilling careers, and personal growth come from pushing through challenges, not taking shortcuts.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll explore the full meaning behind ‘nothing worth having comes easy’ and why it rings true for so many important life goals.

We’ll look at examples of how this phrase applies to relationships, careers, personal growth, and more. You’ll learn why the most treasured things are earned through struggle and how adopting this mindset positions you for success.

We’ll also consider nuances around when to push forward versus pivoting to avoid wasted effort. By the end, you’ll have a deep understanding of what it takes to earn the things that genuinely matter in life.

The Origins and History Behind the Phrase

The phrase “Nothing worth having comes easy” is a popular saying that has been around for quite some time.

It encapsulates the idea that achieving something meaningful or valuable in life often requires hard work, perseverance, and determination. Let’s explore the origins and history behind this profound statement.

Early documented uses

While the exact origin of the phrase is unclear, it has been attributed to various sources throughout history.

One early documented use can be traced back to the 1899, where Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt said it in one of his famous speeches.

The phrase was used to emphasize the importance of putting effort into achieving worthwhile goals and not expecting instant gratification.

Another early use of the phrase can be found in the writings of Thomas Carlyle, a prominent Scottish philosopher and historian.

In one of his essays, Carlyle writes, “Every noble thing is at first impossible.”

How it became popularized

Over time, the phrase gained popularity and became a common expression used in various contexts.

It resonates with people from all walks of life because it acknowledges the challenges and obstacles that often accompany the pursuit of meaningful achievements.

One reason for its widespread popularity is that it encapsulates a universal truth.

Whether someone is striving for success in their career, personal relationships, or personal growth, the phrase serves as a reminder that achieving greatness requires dedication and hard work.

Appears in literature and speeches

The phrase “Nothing worth having comes easy” has also found its way into literature and speeches, further solidifying its place in popular culture.

Many authors and speakers have used it to inspire and motivate others to keep pushing forward despite the difficulties they may encounter along the way.

For example, in his famous speech at Stanford University, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., said,

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.

It’s not about money or connections. It’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone… That’s what ‘Nothing worth having comes easy’ means.”

Core Meaning: Worth Requires Sacrifice and Struggle

The phrase “Nothing worth having comes easy” encapsulates the idea that achieving something valuable or worthwhile in life often requires hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance.

It serves as a reminder that the things we truly desire and cherish are rarely handed to us on a silver platter.

Instead, they are usually the result of our commitment, determination, and willingness to overcome obstacles along the way.

Valuable things take work and sacrifice

When we look at the most valuable things in life, whether it’s personal achievements, meaningful relationships, or career success, we often find that they were not easily attained.

These things typically require significant effort, dedication, and even making sacrifices along the way.

For example, reaching a high level of expertise in a particular skill or field often involves countless hours of practice, continuous learning, and giving up other activities or hobbies to focus on honing that skill.

Overcoming obstacles and challenges

The journey towards something worthwhile is rarely smooth sailing. It is filled with obstacles, challenges, and setbacks that test our resolve and push us to our limits.

These difficulties can come in various forms, such as financial hardships, personal doubts, or external roadblocks.

However, it is through facing and overcoming these challenges that we grow, develop resilience, and ultimately achieve our goals. As the saying goes, “The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

Delayed gratification and persistence pay off

One of the key aspects of the phrase “Nothing worth having comes easy” is the idea of delayed gratification. It reminds us that instant rewards and immediate gratification may not lead to long-term satisfaction or fulfillment.

Instead, it emphasizes the importance of persistence, patience, and staying the course even when the desired outcome seems distant.

The process of working hard and making sacrifices along the way builds character and enhances the joy and sense of accomplishment once we finally achieve what we set out to accomplish.

Contrast with quick fixes and instant rewards

In today’s fast-paced society, there is often a desire for quick fixes and instant rewards. However, the phrase “Nothing worth having comes easy” serves as a counterpoint to this mindset.

It reminds us that the most meaningful and valuable things in life cannot simply be obtained overnight or with minimal effort.

It encourages us to shift our focus from immediate gratification to long-term fulfillment and to embrace the challenges and struggles that come with pursuing what truly matters to us.

So, the next time you find yourself facing difficulties or feeling discouraged on your journey towards a worthwhile goal, remember that nothing worth having comes easy.

Embrace the sacrifices, overcome the obstacles, and persist in your efforts. The rewards will be all the more satisfying and meaningful in the end.

Applying This to Achieving Goals

In relationships and marriage

Applying the principle of “nothing worth having comes easy” to relationships and marriage means understanding that building a strong and lasting partnership requires effort and dedication.

It means recognizing that the challenges and obstacles that may arise in a relationship are opportunities for growth and strengthening the bond between two individuals.

Just like a plant needs water and sunlight to flourish, relationships need communication, compromise, and commitment to thrive.

By embracing this principle, couples can navigate through the tough times and come out stronger on the other side.

In developing a career

When it comes to developing a career, the saying “nothing worth having comes easy” is particularly relevant. Advancing in one’s profession requires hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to overcome setbacks.

It means putting in the extra hours, taking on challenging tasks, and continuously seeking opportunities for growth and improvement.

Whether it’s climbing the corporate ladder or starting a business from scratch, success rarely comes overnight.

By embracing this mindset, individuals can stay motivated and focused on their goals, even during the inevitable moments of frustration and uncertainty.

In personal growth and fulfillment

Personal growth and fulfillment are deeply intertwined with the concept that “nothing worth having comes easy.”

It means recognizing that self-improvement requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone, facing fears, and embracing the unknown.

Whether it’s learning a new skill, overcoming a limiting belief, or pursuing a passion project, personal growth often comes through perseverance and resilience.

By understanding that the journey towards personal fulfillment may be challenging, individuals can stay committed to their goals and push through obstacles to achieve their desired outcome.

In physical fitness, sports, and athletics

The saying “nothing worth having comes easy” is highly applicable to physical fitness, sports, and athletics. Achieving peak performance and maintaining a healthy lifestyle requires discipline, dedication, and consistency.

It means pushing past physical limitations, enduring rigorous training, and maintaining a balanced diet. Whether it’s training for a marathon, competing in a team sport, or simply striving to live a healthier life, the path to success is often paved with sweat, sacrifices, and perseverance.

By embracing this mindset, individuals can stay motivated and committed to their fitness goals, even when faced with challenges or setbacks.

In artistic mastery and creativity

When it comes to artistic mastery and creativity, the saying “nothing worth having comes easy” holds true.

Becoming a skilled artist, musician, writer, or any other creative professional requires years of practice, experimentation, and continuous learning.

It means facing criticism, overcoming self-doubt, and persisting through creative blocks. Whether it’s honing a specific technique, developing a unique style, or pushing the boundaries of one’s craft, the path to artistic success is often marked by failures and setbacks.

By embracing this mindset, individuals can stay committed to their artistic pursuits and continue to grow and evolve as creative beings.

When to Push Forward and When to Pivot

Life is full of challenges and obstacles that can make us question whether our goals are worth pursuing.

The saying “nothing worth having comes easy” reminds us that achieving our dreams often requires hard work, perseverance, and sometimes even sacrifice.

However, it is important to recognize when pushing forward is the right choice and when it may be necessary to pivot and change course.

Pushing through temporary setbacks

Temporary setbacks are a natural part of any journey towards success. They can test our resilience and determination, but they shouldn’t discourage us from pursuing our goals.

When faced with a setback, it is important to assess the situation objectively and determine whether it is a temporary obstacle that can be overcome with perseverance and effort.

Sometimes, pushing through can lead to even greater rewards and a sense of accomplishment.

Knowing when ‘enough is enough’

While perseverance is essential, it is also important to recognize when it may be time to reassess our goals.

There may come a point when continuing to push forward no longer serves our best interests or aligns with our values.

It takes courage to acknowledge when it’s time to pivot and explore new opportunities. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of self-awareness and adaptability.

Seeking balance and avoiding burnout

Constantly pushing forward without taking breaks or considering our well-being can lead to burnout.

It is crucial to find a balance between pushing ourselves towards our goals and taking care of our physical, mental, and emotional health.

This may involve setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and seeking support from loved ones. Remember, taking care of ourselves is not a sign of weakness, but a necessary step towards long-term success.

Letting go of counterproductive mindsets

Oftentimes, our own mindsets can hold us back from achieving our goals. Negative self-talk, fear of failure, and limiting beliefs can all hinder our progress.

Recognizing and letting go of these counterproductive mindsets is essential for success.

Cultivating a positive mindset, focusing on growth and learning, and surrounding ourselves with supportive and inspiring individuals can make all the difference in our journey towards achieving our dreams.

Remember, the saying “nothing worth having comes easy” is a reminder that the path to success may be challenging, but it is also a reminder to evaluate our circumstances, seek balance, and adapt when necessary.

By pushing through setbacks, knowing when to pivot, seeking balance, and letting go of counterproductive mindsets, we can navigate the ups and downs of life with resilience and ultimately achieve our goals.

Cultivating the Mindset to Earn Life’s Most Worthwhile Things

Handling discouragement and self-doubt

While pursuing worthwhile things in life, it is inevitable to encounter discouragement and self-doubt along the way.

These feelings can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that they are part of the process. It’s crucial to develop strategies to handle them effectively.

One effective strategy is to surround yourself with positive and supportive people who can offer encouragement and help you stay motivated.

Additionally, practicing self-care and engaging in activities that boost your confidence can help combat self-doubt.

Taking breaks when needed and celebrating small victories can also provide a much-needed boost of motivation. Remember, setbacks and doubts are temporary, and by persevering through them, you’ll come out stronger on the other side.

Celebrating small wins and milestones

When working towards something significant, it’s easy to get caught up in the long-term goal and overlook the small wins and milestones along the way.

However, celebrating these accomplishments is crucial in maintaining motivation and building momentum.

Take the time to acknowledge and appreciate the progress you make, no matter how small. Whether it’s completing a difficult task, reaching a milestone, or receiving positive feedback, each step forward is worth celebrating.

This not only boosts your confidence but also provides a sense of fulfillment and reassurance that you are on the right track.

Staying focused on meaning over ease

In a world where instant gratification is often prioritized, it’s important to remember that worthwhile things in life require effort and perseverance.

It’s easy to be tempted by shortcuts or give in to the desire for immediate results, but true fulfillment comes from the journey itself.

Instead of seeking ease and comfort, focus on the meaning and purpose behind your goals. Remind yourself why you started and how achieving your goal will bring value to your life and the lives of others.

Embrace the challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning, knowing that the reward at the end will be worth the effort.

Cultivating the mindset to earn life’s most worthwhile things is not always easy, but it is incredibly rewarding.

By embracing patience, grit, resilience, and vision, handling discouragement and self-doubt, celebrating small wins and milestones, and staying focused on meaning over ease, you can overcome obstacles and achieve the things that truly matter to you.


In closing, the adage ‘nothing worth having comes easy’ serves as an empowering reminder about what it takes to accomplish meaningful goals and live a fulfilling life. While quick fixes provide instant gratification, substantial achievements come from sustained effort in the face of obstacles.

By embracing this mindset, we can find the determination to nurture relationships, develop skills, and grow into our best selves. Although the path includes twists and turns, the destination makes every challenge worthwhile.

What we earn through perseverance becomes part of who we are.

The next time you feel daunted by a worthwhile endeavor, remember: the most rewarding things require work, sacrifice, and a commitment to see it through. With the right mindset and approach, you have what it takes to earn the things in life that truly matter.

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