Scenario 1)

Imagine someone is living a hard life because they have to save their income to invest in a very worthwhile field that can be very helpful in their future financially. You want to sympathize with them.

Or (at least in our language)

Scenario 2)

Imagine you want to sympathize a university student who is going through think and thin to achieve a degree at a very good college and in a good major which can guarantee some valuable job opportunities for them afterwards.

In the both cases above, one can use a multilateral proverb in our language which says: "You can pay your dues and enjoy the fruits of your labor for the rest of your life."

The only proverb which I found in a domestically written book, was:

  • Short term pain for long term gain.

However, even if it works I doubt if it is something that sounds natural to an American.

I was wondering if you could help me with this case and let me know what is the best way to convey the massage in my question.

  • 3
    Sow now, reap later.
    – TimR
    Mar 10, 2017 at 19:26
  • @TRomano thank you very much for ever-wise offers.
    – A-friend
    Mar 10, 2017 at 22:40
  • 1
    I think short-term pain for long-term gain could work. It's similar to no pain, no gain, which is most often used by fitness enthusiasts and body builders.
    – J.R.
    Mar 10, 2017 at 23:13

4 Answers 4


One proverb we use is "You reap what you sow." This proverb essentially says "If you do good things, good things will happen. If you do bad things, bad things will happen."

Another is "Hard work pays off" - this may be more appropriate in your second example, as it doesn't address investments.


If you want something that works with the financial sector, there's:

All your hard work will pay dividends.

to pay dividends

to produce good results or advantages
Usage notes: often used to refer to something you do now that will benefit you in the future: All your work will pay dividends – you'll see.


The shortened form of you proverb which gets used is

You have to pay your dues

meaning one faces a tough time at the beginning and the expectation is things will be better later on

Another might be

You need to work/study hard to get ahead.

the meaning is obvious.

During the Civil Rights movement the phrase

(Keep your) Eyes on the prize

was used to mean no matter how difficult things may be, never forget your goal.


Interestingly enough, we don't have a proverb that's an exact fit for this. Others have mentioned "you reap what you sow" but this is, if anything, more often used in the negative to mean "just desserts".

Some possibilities:

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Good things come to those who wait

God helps those who help themselves

Make hay while the sun shines

And this, somewhat more recent "proverb":

If you build it, they will come

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