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Day 82: Do we really need more?

January 4, 2024

Achieve your full potential.

Live the life of your dreams.

Hit your 6-figure income.

The self-help world for business owners is full of these messages and I’ve bought into them for years, but over the last couple of years, something has started to niggle.

When I started my coaching practice, I quickly realised that my clients often had goals that weren’t truly their goals. They were the goals society taught them to strive for, as though these things somehow brought happiness and fulfilment. 

I have found the same to be true in my own life. I’m most content when I’m NOT striving for more, and rather simply enjoying what I already have. I’ve talked to my mentors about it and they diagnosed “money blocks” and “self-sabotaging” but what if it’s not?

I’m reminded of a story I read on Paulo Coelho’s blog about a businessman and a fisherman, which goes like this: 

One day a businessman was sitting on a beach in a small Brazilian village when he noticed a fisherman returning to land in a small boat, having caught quite a few fish.

When he asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch so many fish, the fisherman said, “Oh, just a short while.”
The businessman asked why he didn’t stay longer and catch more fish, to which he replied “This is enough to feed my whole family.”

“What do you do the rest of the time?” was the businessman’s next question.
“Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and when evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”

The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman.
“I am a PhD in business management. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”

The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled.

What does this have to do with Joy?

I think many of us are in search of the path to something that makes life feel better, but somewhere along the line, as a society, we’ve lost touch with the simplicity of the things we truly need and as our dissatisfaction has grown, we’ve just chased “things” even harder. 

I feel as though a joyful life is one where I disengage from the more mainstream need for “achievements” and “stuff” but there’s a voice in my head telling me that this is simply me “being lazy” or “giving up” – that I wouldn’t be saying this if I had millions in the bank. 

Then again, I haven’t yet encountered a millionaire who is deeply joyful because of the money. I have only ever encountered those who are joyful despite the money. 

As Jim Carrey said, “ I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

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