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Many of us are familiar with the story of the business man and the Mexican fisherman. It’s a great story on balancing work and life, and the goals we hope to achieve.
Given that so much time on this website is spent writing about balancing the needs of here and now with our future goals, I felt it important to include the story below on this site, too.
Should my kids happen upon this website someday, I hope that they take this lesson to heart.
The Business Man and The Fisherman
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while.”
The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”
The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
Balancing work and life with the Mexican Fisherman
The Mexican fisherman story above teaches us all too well the importance of learning how to be content with what we currently have. It is truly an art learning the meaning of “enough.” Money often doesn’t make us happier.
It wouldn’t serve you very well if I left it at that, though. This site is all about providing practical advice that is helpful in reaching your personal and financial goals.
‘Cause let’s be real. That fisherman doesn’t have any refinanced student loans to pay off, which is a very different situation than most of us. I’d love to be debt free, and enjoy my day doing exactly what he does. Despite the dissimilarity in our debt situations, we can learn to be content now while preparing to live the life we want to live in the future.
Hopefully, every day brings us closer.
However, it’s tough balancing the here and now with our future goals. That’s where the The 10% Rule can be helpful. Enjoy 10% of our increases in pay, bonuses, or windfall money. The other 90% is put towards building wealth through destroying our debt and investing wisely.
This helps us to enjoy today, while preparing for tomorrow. [Now that my wife and I have paid off all of our non-mortgage debt, this 10% rule may turn into something more like the 20-30% rule.]
I’ve used The 10% Rule to buy a new car, a country clubmembership to play golf with my family and friends, new tires for our swagger wagon, a new bed, a custom fitted golf driver, a grill, and even a couple of trips with some of our best friends to the beaches and mountains of St. Lucia.
I’ve also used The 10% Rule to increase our net worth by over $250,000 in one year. Like the fisherman, we have never felt like we lacked for anything. And that’s despite living on 20-30% of our income at times.
It’s all about balance. Learn to be content now while preparing for the future. You can and should do both. But this can only be done if you aren’t weighed down by the metal shackles of debt.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Today
As health care professionals, we are all too aware of our mortality.
So, take this day to remember that life is about balance. Spend your time intentionally. Don’t say “yes” to things that you are not passionate about. In fact, I encourage you and empower you to create a Hell Yes Policy. Learn to say no to things that don’t excite you!
Like the Mexican fisherman in the story above, remember that you can work hard to earn a good paycheck. But the more you work, the less likely it is that you are doing what you really want with your time.
In the end, time is the true currency of life. Not money. Don’t ever forget that.
Build the life you want to live right now, and save so that you can continue to do it without earning a paycheck later. You can and should accomplish both of these goals.
Go find your little coastal village, catch some fish, and teach others how to catch them, too. That’s what this site is all about.
What does the story of the business man and fisherman mean to you? Are you able to balancing work and life? How can you apply those principles to your daily life? Leave a comment below.