A story is told of a successful businessman on vacation who was at the pier of a small coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin Tuna. The businessman complimented the fisherman on the quality of the fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The fisherman proudly replied, “Every morning, I go out in my boat for 30 minutes to fish. I’m the best fisherman in the village.”
The businessman, perplexed, then asked the fisherman, “if you’re the best, why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish? What do you do with the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, spend quality time with my wife, and every evening we stroll into the village to drink wine and play guitar with our friends. I have a full and happy life.”
The businessman scoffed, “I am a successful CEO and have a talent for spotting business opportunities. I can help you be more successful. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. You could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats with many fishermen. Instead of selling your catch to just your friends, you can scale to sell fish to thousands. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to the big city where you can oversee your growing empire.”
The fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the businessman replied, “15-20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the fisherman.
The businessman laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO, sell your company stock to the public, and become very rich; you would make millions.
“Millions- then what?”
The businessman said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, spend time with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your friends.”
The fisherman, puzzled, asked, “Isn’t that what I’m doing now? Why would I have to wait for 20 years to have what I’m enjoying today?”
The Most Important Thing in Personal Finance
The most important thing in personal finance is knowing when you’ve got enough. Most of us view life like the businessman. We are always striving for more wealth, thinking that wealth will give us more happiness and satisfaction in life.
We end up postponing enjoying our lives today for an unknown future. We end up in the endless loop of chasing one goal after another all our lives, like a moth circumnavigating a light bulb, only for it to die of exhaustion.
We create no time for the things we love and the people we love. All we focus on and prioritize is the work that helps us make more money or that will help us make a better case for a promotion during the next annual meeting.
Sometimes it becomes essential to step back from the daily bustle of activities and reflect on your life. Are the sacrifices you are making today worth it, or will they lead to regrets in the future?
Remember, your kids will not be in kindergarten forever. Your days of dropping them to school or picking them up from school are limited. And when they pass, they will never come back.
I Wish I Never Worked So Hard
Bronnie worked in Palliative Care for many years. Her patients were those who had gone home to DIE. Out of the four main regrets they shared, the second in ranking was, “I wish I did not work so hard.”
As she recounts,
“This came from every male patient I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.”
Why We Never Feel Like We Have Enough
We often seek satisfaction from external accomplishments; hence, we never get it.
And as Ryan Holiday wrote in his book, Stillness is the Key ,
“You will never feel okay by way of external accomplishments. Enough comes from the inside. It comes from stepping off the train, from seeing what you already have, what you’ve always had.
If a person can do that, they are richer than any billionaire, more powerful than any sovereign.”
For what shall profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?