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What Do You Want In Life?

9 May 2008 3 Comments

What a loaded question.  While this question can be intimidating, it is important not to back down.  Choosing not to answer the question is still a choice; a decision that chooses a life that simply moves in the direction that the world pushes you towards.  As a person in your 20s, your best years are ahead of you.  What do you want your life to look like in 5, 10, 20, 40 years?  What is your ideal mix of career, family, and fun?  The beautiful thing about life is:  it’s all up to you.

The Story of The Mexican Fisherman

An American businessman was standing 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 yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

“But,” The American then asked, “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 a siesta 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, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and 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 consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. 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 NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”

What I Take From This Story

We must understand what drives us.  Does the goal of making millions motivate you?  Do you simply want to live a comfortable life with flexibility to travel and spend time with your family and friends?  Unfortunately, many people these days live their life each day without answering such questions.  Work and other responsibilities get in the way of you taking a step back and addressing such fundamental questions.

You have an advantage.   You can address your goals and desire for your life now, while you are young.  Don’t let distractions get in the way of you determining what you want in your life.  Learn to say no to things that pull you away from what matters to you.  Mastering this concept in your 20s will help you remain the person behind the wheel in driving your life’s direction.

Whether you agree with the Mexican Fisherman story or not, doesn’t matter.  You can dismiss it as unrealistic or just plain stupid, but don’t miss an opportunity to perform a self-check on your life.  How can you use the story and the above questions to ensure you are on the path that you want to be on?  Only you can perform such self-analysis because, frankly, nobody cares about your life as much as you do.

3 Comments »

  • Chris Moran said:

    Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran