I read an article the other day that claimed the American dream was dead. I was really surprised to see that article, especially in the United States. Maybe in other countries where we do not have freedom, the ability to make our own way, or awesome real estate investments, it could be tough to move up. You may not like your employment opportunities, you may not like how much money you make, but you have the freedom to change all of that. Too many people are waiting for things to get better instead of taking action to make them better. It is easy to blame society, the economy, politicians, or cheap labor from other countries for your problems. But blaming others will not change or make your life better. Only you can make your life better, and the point of life is to make as much with it as you possibly can. Feeling sorry for yourself, and complaining about things you cannot control might make you feel comfortable for now, but do you want to feel comfortable and fit in with a bunch of other people not living life to the fullest? Or do you want to take charge of your life and make things happen yourself?
What is the American Dream?
To me, the American dream is living your life to its fullest. It may not mean the same to someone immigrating from another country with nothing like PJ Ghamdi as it does to someone growing up in a middle class family. Some people are only looking for a safe and decent place to live, while others want it all. There is no right or wrong dream, unless you are living someone else’s dream. You need to figure out what you love in life, what you love to do, who you love, and go after it.
I was very introverted growing up. I was that kid who hid behind his parents’ legs when meeting anyone new, or even seeing people I already knew, but did not know that well. I never spoke up in class, and dreaded the teacher calling on me. Even if I knew the right answer when called on in class, I would freeze up because I was so nervous. For many years I waited for things to happen for me, because I was scared to go get them. Eventually I realized I was not living life to it’s fullest. If I was ever going to achieve the things I really wanted, I would have to make things happen, take chances and stop being scared. The American dream is not handed to you, you have to create it.
The American dream has changed over the years. A decent place to live, enough food, and not dying of disease were enough to make most people happy in the past. As society evolves, we have become accustomed to a society where people are safe, people have enough food, and there is opportunity to move up in the world. I am sure some of you may disagree with me, but we live in an amazing world. Most of us have cars, we can buy houses, we have top-notch medical treatment, we have decent schools, and we have fresh food. These things were not all available 100 years ago.
Living the dream first means you have to know what the dream is. What is your dream and what do you want out of life? If you have no idea what your dream is, it will be really hard to achieve it. Too many people in America float through life waiting for the dream to happen and do not know what they want! The American dream was never guaranteed to anyone, you have to go after it and earn it. There are no medals for showing up, at least meaningful medals.
The first thing you have to do to achieve your dream is define it. Is it money, success for your children, freedom, material goods (it is okay to like nice things), or something else? Once you define your dream, and be specific, you can start to take action to achieve that dream.
How has the American dream changed in today’s society?
It seems like millennials have it really tough. College is really expensive, there aren’t any good jobs, and housing is too expensive. These are real concerns, and it can make it hard to achieve the old American dream. The old American dream was to work for a solid company, buy a house, pay off the house, earn a pension, and retire at 65. If you ask me that dream sucks, and I think it is a good thing things have changed. There is so much more to life than working for someone else and hoping to eventually retire. There may not be pensions and the traditional way to live the dream, but there is still the dream. The dream is better than ever.
The previous way of life where people worked for others and earned a pension, created dreams for their bosses and the owners of the companies. That may have been enough for some people, but I know many people want more out of life. I hear people complaining about student debt, about low paying jobs, about minimum wage being too low, about not being able to save enough for retirement. They are all relying on the other people for jobs, for retirement, and even for a career path. I think many people assume going to college, and joining the corporate world is the best path, and it is encouraged in high school and college. I remember going to college for my finance degree and there was almost no talk of entrepreneurship, except in a class for starting your own business. The ultimate career taught at school was to join the corporate world, work for ten years moving up the ladder, hopefully get promotions, work harder and longer hours, get more promotions, and a select few will become CFO’s, CEO’s or top level managers and make a lot of money. The only catch is you are expected to work 80 hours a week, travel like crazy and hope your company doesn’t down size or go bankrupt during that time. I do not think that is a good dream!
Yes, the previous dream may be harder to achieve, because of the changing world, but the dream is not dead. In fact, the dream is better than ever, because to really succeed in today’s world you will have to take chances and get out of your comfort zone. You cannot sit back, relax, and wait for retirement. You have to work hard, think hard and plan hard. The new American Dream is so much better than it was before, because there is so much more opportunity. People are starting companies and getting rich while in high school. People are skipping college, skipping debt, and still becoming billionaires.
Again the first step is defining what your dream is.
How do you discover what your dream is?
The American Dream is different for everyone. People in Syria just want to be safe, parts of Africa just want enough food, but in America we assume those things are part of life. That is a good thing, we live in an awesome country no matter what the politicians say. Remember the politicians have to have problems to solve, otherwise there is no real need for them. The media needs problems and horrible things to happen to get attention and make money. While it appears that everything is falling apart around us, this is one of the safest times in the history of the world to live.
The media and news tells us what to think, what we should want for our lives, and what to believe in. I think most successful people stop letting others tell them what to think, and start thinking for themselves. I was scared to get a Lamborghini because I thought people would think I was a pompous jerk. That thought was holding me back and making me less successful. When I stopped caring what people thought, my career and businesses took off. Not everyone likes cars, or big houses, or fancy clothes. You have to figure out what makes you happy, and use it to motivate you to work harder, and smarter. One way to start figuring out what you want is to write down everything you like to do or want to do in your life. Do not limit yourself based on the cost or what others may thing.
How do you achieve your dreams once you have figured out what they are?
Most people will never take the time to sit down and figure out what they want in life. That is why they never achieve their dreams, they don’t really know what they are. If you can figure out your dream, you are ahead of the game. Just having a dream does not mean you will magically achieve it. You have to take action and have a plan to make those dreams come true. Here are some tips:
- Set goals, write them down, and review them as much as possible.
- Within those goals break them down into actions you can take today.
- Concentrate on a few goals that are the most important to you right now.
- Make sure that everyday you are making just a little bit of progress with your goals.
- Every week review your progress and your big goals to see if you need a new plan or to revise your goals.
- Don’t assume anything! Don’t assume college is best for you without analyzing your life and goals, don’t assume you should be a math major because you are good at math, don’t assume you can’t be successful because you don’t get good grades.
If you want some more ideas for how to create and achieve your dream, check out my book: How to Change Your Mindset to Achieve Huge Success: Why your attitude and daily habits have more to do with making more money and having more freedom than anything else. The book is available as a paperback or eBook and goes through everything I do to be successful.
The American Dream is not dead, but it may have changed. Change is a good thing if you embrace it and use it to your advantage. There is not a better time in the world to become extremely rich after starting with nothing. Although it may be tougher to live a comfortable life with a pension, there is more opportunity for those willing to take risks and take control of their lives.You have to ask yourself if you will keep letting others tell you how to live and what to want, or if you will figure it out and make it happen.