In Pursuit of the American Dream

We’re all pursuing the American Dream, aren’t we? Or are we? Just what exactly IS the American Dream? Is it still alive?

Think back to the early days of the U.S. and what people meant when they meant when they said they were going to America to pursue the American Dream. I have a hunch it meant a lot more meaning back then than it does now. There was vast opportunity…undiscovered lands to be explored, undeveloped lands to be developed, gold to be discovered, ideas and views to be followed through without persecution. I fear however that such is not the case anymore. Do people still pursue “The American Dream”?

I think it is possible for people to pursue this dream but it is much harder than it was for the early pioneers and settlers. A vast majority of the people today are content with their 9-5 jobs and everything that this content life entails…a mortgage, a commute, material possesions, watching life go by as they enjoy the security of their current life. Yet…is there really security?

To me, there is a new American Dream and it involves stepping outside and taking a riskier road, many times bucking convention of societal norms, and pursuing a dream or passion that not everyone may understand. To many, leaving the security of a full time job is too risky to go out on their own and implement a new business idea. That’s a shame as this new idea may revolutionize a current way of doing business or even create an entire new ecosystem based around one product or idea (think the Apple iPod…how many companies now base all or a large portion of their revenue on iPod-related products?). Athletes would also fall in this category to me. Sure, they could graduate from college and get a job making $50,000/year but they’re taking the risks of something physical, sometimes risking career-ending injuries, to pursue their own dreams. Musicians and artists fall into this set in my mind also. This one is much tougher as this set generally must live in a completely different realm than the rest the nation. No 9-5 job, a “corporate look” is definitely out, yet they’re out there working, trying to find their own American Dream.

It’s an interesting time we live in. Pursuing a “regular job” probably won’t give you that financial independence anymore. You may be able to get a comfortable living as you climb up the corporate ladder, but to be truly independent you’ll probably have to pursue the new American Dream. There are still opportunities out there but given the complacency of most Americans and the teachings of society and the instructions we receive in our universities it is a hard thing for many people to grasp that these opportunities exist.

I’ve pondered all this as I was working on another business plan and thinking about the recent list of inspirations I’ve witnessed in my life. These inspirations were discussed at Waxporhetoric if you’re interested. I feel fortunate enough to be surrounded by people that are striving for their own American Dream…which in my eyes has become synonymous with “pursuing your passions” (despite the fact one friend once told me the American Dream was to become a home owner). This so-called American Dream is not what it was once defined to be and now has a new meaning for each person you come across in the streets. I’m curious enough now to find out what this dream is. I may have to poll a number of people and do a follow-up. I invite all the readers to give input as to what they believe the dream to be.