A while back, I did Rebecca Fine’s course The Certain Way which was based on the Wallace D Wattles classic, The Science of Getting Rich. As a part of that course, she told the following story of a fisherman.
During his holiday to a beautiful, sleepy harbour village, located right next to bountiful warm waters in an idyllic setting, a Harvard professor was watching a local fisherman bringing in his small catch of fish.
“How many did you catch today?” the professor asked.
“Oh, enough to feed my family and have a little left over too,” replied the fisherman.
“How long have you been out there?” the professor enquired.
“Not long. Perhaps a few hours,” the fisherman answered.
With a puzzled look on his face, the professor asked, “Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”
The fisherman said, “Because I have plenty for my needs.”
“But what do you do with the rest of your time?” the professor pressed.
“I take a siesta, walk into the town, drink a little wine, play guitar with my amigos. Then I come home and spend the evenings with my lovely wife. We live a simple life together.”
“Well, I think I can help you,” the professor announced. “You see, I’m a Harvard professor and I have worked out that if you were to stay out for just a few more hours, you could easily double your catch. You could sell your surplus and buy a bigger boat.”
“I don’t need a bigger boat,” the fisherman interrupted.
“But wait,” said the professor, “you could then increase your catch and sell more and buy a second boat. You would be able to afford to pay other people and if you continued your expansion like this, within a year or two, you could be operating a very profitable little company here.”
“And then what?” asked the fisherman.
The professor was clearly excited at the prospect of helping the fisherman. “Within five years tops, you could have the local fishing industry in the palm of your hands.”
“And then what?” the fisherman asked.
“Well that’s where it gets really exciting. You could sell your business and retire,” he replied.
The fisherman thought for a moment and asked, “And then what?”
The professor hesitated for a moment and then replied, “Well … you could relax, take it easy, do a little fishing, take a siesta, walk into the town, drink a little wine, play guitar with your amigos. Then come home and spend the evenings with your lovely wife. You would have a happy and fulfilled life.”
Like all great stories, it doesn’t need much to be added by way of explanation. You can draw your own lessons from the story. But, the fisherman was clearly already living the life he wanted to live and no amount of money was going to make things better for him. One of the lessons of the story is that exactly the same could be true for you.
Whatever you are doing right now with your life, if it is what you love to do, then it would also be what you would choose to continue doing if money were no object. If you are not doing, right now, what you would love to do, then you need to be clear why you are doing it and for how long you will put off living the life you really want to live.