The Old Path Is Broke: The Life Deferral Plan Makes NO Sense

Marvin Liao
3 min readFeb 13, 2024

I wrote earlier about my return to Prague after a long hiatus. Love this beautiful city. But the issue with beautiful historic places is that they tend to be overrun with tourists in the center, think Venice or Florence as an example. Lots of tour groups, especially old tourists. It’s nice to see them enjoying themselves. But I also think it’s kind of sad. Most of them are out of shape and not that mobile.

For many of them, it is probably the first time they are doing this. Sightseeing, carefree and trying to have fun. For most people they got caught up with life, jobs and family. Toiling. Living what Tim Ferriss called the “life deferral plan”, work and sacrifice and then enjoy the fruits of your labor when you are old.

Now I’m not against hard work or sacrifice at all. Most people could do with a little bit more hard work and sacrifice. But to put off your dreams till you are older seems risky. Even if you make it to old age you are less healthy and usually out of shape.

It reminds me of that old and much repeated fable of the fisherman and MBA.

“An American investment banker was taking a much-needed vacation in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it.

The investment banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the Mexican how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish?

The Mexican fisherman replied he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked: “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman replied,

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, 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 investment banker scoffed:“I am an Ivy League MBA, and I could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats until eventually, you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the middleman, you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You could control the product, processing and distribution.” Then he added: “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?” To which the American replied: “15–20 years.”“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

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

“Millions, señor? Then what?”

To which the investment banker replied:“Then you would retire. 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 your guitar with your amigos.”

The point is that you can still make some room in your life for this now. It’s just understanding what it is that brings you joy and energy. Or trying to live some of those dreams which usually involve some travel & adventure.

I also think you are doing the world a disservice. Living a mundane life of toil and sacrifice but no impact or joy? Or no risk and adventure.

How can others be interested in you if you aren’t “interesting”? How can you inspire others if you aren’t inspired or inspiring? If you live a passionless or joyless life, how do you get energy and pass it on to others? How do you have credibility?

The answer is you can’t. Don’t die with your music inside of you. There are people out there who want to hear it. People who absolutely need to hear it.

The world needs these models and examples of inspiration. Now more than ever. So it’s never too late to start living the life you truly want.



Marvin Liao

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything!