There are many interpretations of the American Dream. Historically, for most immigrants it has represented the freedom to seek employment to provide a better life for their own family. People have come to America from all over the world and from all sorts of political and economic systems. They chose America because our particular form of government and economic system is the best in the world for the individual who has the drive to succeed.
Interpretations of the American Dream
It is probably safe to say that every person defines the American dream differently. There are a few aspects of the dream that segments of the population tend to have in common. Family life, Home ownership, and employee vs business owner are at the center of attention for the dream of many.
The definition of family has really taken a beating over the past few decades in America. There was a traditional family unit that was a standard from the time of America’s founding until the late twentieth century. Divorce and remarriage created blended families. The TV series The Brady Bunch was the first pop culture depiction of the blended family. Now family makeup can be anything under the sun. People seriously consider their animals as family members.
Home ownership has been a long time staple of the dream. There is something inherently rewarding about the feeling of owning a home when compared to renting or living under someone else’s roof.
Employment vs Business Owner
This is a category where there is a split in opinions. Most people probably lean towards having a job that is rewarding in a variety of ways including a certain level of income of course. But there are quite a few people who embrace the opportunity to participate in the free enterprise system as a business owner. These people see the ability to be your own boss as a uniquely American freedom. Even if not a brick and mortar operation, they are enamored by the image of their name on a business.
Success in the American Economic System
What does it mean to succeed in the American economic system? First, success does not often happen by accident. Post-it notes and Viagra being notable exceptions. Normally the road to success begins with a thorough grasp of how the system works. Engaging the system and working within it propels you toward achieving your dream.
Maybe I am wrong, but I am afraid that the school system has stopped teaching how our system is designed to work. There is a pervasive attitude among young people that a more socialistic system would be preferable. The precepts of socialism have an alluring ring to them. They kind of tickle the ears, but when examined closely, they just don’t conform to the realities of human nature.
The American economic system is a central player in most interpretations of the American Dream. Your chosen career field says a lot about who you are. What you do to bring home the bacon is a significant factor in how people describe themselves. I’m a Sailor, an Officer, a retiree, etc. Participating in the free enterprise system as a business owner sets you apart as an entrepreneur.
Is it easier or harder to start a business of your own today compared to years gone by? That question will start some great conversations.
Reasons it is easier to get started
Today, there are more people that have successfully started a business and are willing to teach others what they did to reach the level they have achieved. Crowdfunding and individual investors are more accessible than in the past. TV shows like Shark Tank and websites where you can pitch a business idea exist now where they did not in the past.
Reasons it is hard to get off the ground
There are still a bigger percentage of startups that don’t succeed than those that do.
People complain about the tax code and for good reason. It is impossible to figure out. However, most of the 70,000 plus pages discuss ways to reduce your tax bill rather than raise it. The part that determines how much you have to pay is small. All it says really is if you earn a certain amount, your bill is X. The rest of the legislation says if you do this, subtract a portion, if your do that, subtract a portion – reducing what you have to pay in. I know that is an oversimplification.
Common Misconceptions about the Rich
Rich people are hugely misunderstood and unfairly disliked in America. Non-rich people have an unrealistic view of how rich people became wealthy and what they do with their money. They also have a misconception of what they would do if they were rich and how to become wealthy. The portrayal of wealthy people being overbearing causes many to be reluctant at the prospect working toward becoming wealthy.
Once you have spent some time on the road towards accumulating wealth and begin to visualize yourself as ‘wealthy’ you will have a whole new appreciation of what it means.
Is the American Dream Available for You?
The American Dream is alive and well and waiting for you! Go get it!
Do not be afraid that the system will change to the point that our freedoms get curtailed. The freedoms guaranteed in the constitution will ensure that the dream remains available to those that are willing to go after it. Despite the mass media and the education system’s portrayal of life in America, opportunities abound for those who keep their dream alive.The American Dream is alive and well and waiting for you! Go get it! Click To Tweet
There is a prevalent mindset out there that a lack or limited amount of resources is available that we all must share. The counter-position is that there is an abundance of resources.
An abundance mindset says that there is more where that came from. I can be generous with what I have. I can give, contribute, invest and still have enough.
A lack mentality says I have to hold on to what I’ve got. In order for someone to get ahead, someone else must fall behind. The lack mentality believes in a zero sum game. For me to get you must give it up.
The abundance mindset says we can both do well. A rising tide lifts all the ships.Abundance mindset says we can both do well. A rising tide lifts all ships. Click To Tweet
There is no limit to the number of opportunities that are available to those that are looking.
Finding Like-Minded Americans
If you are an abundance mentality person surrounded by lack-minded people, it can drag you down. It is comforting to associate with like-minded people. Where can you find them? Sometimes it can be hard. This is why I am starting a closed Facebook group where you can find people that think like you to associate with. If you are interested:
At a family dinner recently, a cousin mentioned that she did not associate with the kind of people who fought over paying the bill. Between my brother-in-law, future brother-in-law and me, each was trying to get the bill for dinner. The other two have mastered some skills in paying the bill before the other can get to it. These are tricks that I have not yet honed well. The people I normally go out with don’t usually compete to pay the bill and are generally appreciated when I offer. They have no complaints.
If you are not associating with people who are eager to pick up the bill, you might think about seeking out a new group of friends. Giving is its own reward.
HINRY: High Income, Not Rich Yet
Being a high income earner does not mean that you are a prodigious accumulator of wealth. I recommend you read The Millionaire Next Door to appreciate the full meaning of prodigious accumulator of wealth. If you are a high consumer, it will be very difficult to accumulate great wealth. So, what you want to do is focus on accumulating wealth, not just earn a high income. Increasing your income rate is important, but so is controlling your outgo. Check out my blog post about “9 Fundamentals of Sustainable Out-go and Reliable Income“.
Develop a millionaire mentality. Read books to help develop the millionaire mentality. Start by reading a few minutes per day. Establish the habit of reading every day. Don’t try to read a whole book in a day, just a few pages. The key is to make reading a habit and let the force of habit make you a millionaire.
Living the American Dream
Whatever your income is now, you can live the American Dream. It starts by visualizing your dream. Define the lifestyle that you believe possible. Ask yourself questions to clarify your Dream. Are you living your dream? If not, what needs to change in your life to make it so? Is living your dream within your control or is something outside of your influence controlling your ability to live the dream?
Plot a course from where you are to the point that you have defined as living the dream. What is the next step for you in the direction of your dream.
If you live in America, it is possible for you to live the dream. Opportunities are abundant here!
You can find yours!