Financial planning for clients during the income stage of life has generally involved strategies for accumulating and growing wealth. While growing wealth is absolutely essential for our retirement security, it is hard for people to know when enough is enough.
The goal of growing wealth is a good one, but it is incomplete. It must be balanced with other goals that are driven by our most deeply held values.
Money alone is neither true wealth, nor does it lead to true happiness. However, knowing what is important to us and ensuring it is a part of our lives at all times makes us happier - and what makes us happy may be closer than we think.
To drive home this point, a client once shared the following story with me. I would encourage you to read and share this story with any income earner who is trying hard to balance work, wealth, family, friends, and the other goals in their life.
The Harvard MBA
A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna.
Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, 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 he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.
The American businessman then became serious and 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 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, señor."
The American scoffed, "Look, I have an MBA from Harvard and can help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the profits from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. "
Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme, which could bring even bigger profits. "Instead of selling to a middleman, you would sell directly to a 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 Los Angeles, and eventually New York City where you will run your expanding enterprise."
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But señor, how long will this all take?"
To which the American replied, "If you work really hard, about twenty years."
"But what then, señor?" asked the fisherman.
"Why, that's the best part!" answered the businessman with a laugh."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, señor? And then what - what would I do with it all?" the fisherman asked.
The American boasted, "Then you could happily retire with all the money you've made. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play guitar with your amigos!!”
The moral of the story is: Know what really matters in life, and you may find that it is already much closer than you think.
If you really think about it, if the fisherman actually implemented the Harvard MBA's plan, once retired, his children would be gone from home, he may be divorced, and some of his friends may have died. Therefore, he could lose everything in the desire for more. Sometimes, enough is enough.