And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.
~ Abraham Lincoln
by Pete Ferguson
Years ago a young American, celebrating his recent graduation from an Ivy League University with an MBA, visited a small village in south America. With its pristine beaches and warm weather, the location was the vision of Paradise for every American Corporate cube dweller.
He took time to walk the beach each day and watched the small boats return from fishing. He approached one of them and complimented the fisherman on his fine catch, but noted that it was such a small bounty.
Eager to put his newfound education to work, he asked the man how long it took to catch the fish. “Not long” replied the fisherman.
The young man then asked what the fisherman did with the rest of his day, to which he replied, “I sleep in late, go fishing, return to play with my children, eat a nice lunch, take a siesta, meet with family and friends, play guitar and then go to bed. I have a full and busy life.”
The young many quickly replied, “I just received my MBA, I could help you. If you fished longer, you could bring in more money, buy a larger boat, and eventually have your own business. Some day you could then sell the business and make a lot of money.”
“How long would this take?” asked the fisherman. To which the young man replied 10-20 years.
“What would I do then?” asked the fisherman. “Anything you want! You’d be rich,” replied the young man.
To which the wise fisherman replied, “I currently have everything I want, what more could I want for?”
Having traveled Europe and the Asia Pacific region, in addition to spending time along the Mexican border and in Canada, I have seen that as Americans, often our idea of “success” is really distorted, as we place the majority of our score in the career category, forgetting the rest of living that makes up life.
In his book, “48 Days to the Work You Love,” author Dan Miller discusses how to “Plan Your Life Around the Life You Want.” It doesn’t require doing more per say – it requires doing less of one thing, usually we are overbalanced in the career category – it requires allowing time for a balance of all the important aspects of life.
It has been a personal life saver as I found myself burnt out and unhappy several years back. Overweight, unhealthy, frustrated at the lack of “progress” in many different areas of my life, I was one day cleaning out a drawer and came upon an old journal – ten years old to be exact. In the front I had written down ten goals. And I hadn’t accomplished any of them!
Since then I have worked to balance my life and start each day doing what I love. Reading, writing, exercising, spending time with family. At work, my duties now are better aligned to what I love, helping others understand their potential. In the evening, I return home and conclude the day with family and enjoying what I do.
Everyday is not paradisiacal bliss. But there aren’t many weeks where it doesn’t all balance out in the end.
What is the life you want to live? Certainly I have long term goals, and shorter term goals, but one non-negotiable for me now is that each week will have a balance of what I would do anyway if I won the lottery tomorrow.
Learn: Are you living your retirement dream today? If not, why not? What small changes could you make to have one hour of retirement a day?
Act: If your wheel of life is out of balance, make a plan to increase one segment this week! Today!
Share: Discuss with a friend, coworker, spouse what you plan to do to even out your balance, and invite them to come with you on the journey.
Story adapted from Dan’s “48 Days to the Work You Love” Leadership Guide, Chapter 3 “Creating a Life Plan,” page 45