This might be one of the most overly referenced ‘phenomena’ of the last 100 years when talking about the American people and their overall lifestyles.
Yes, we know that the idea of the ‘american dream’ was little more than a brilliant marketing strategy (to sell mortgages). What’s interesting though is that it really did seem to work.
We are now in the hangover of the golden era of mortgages. Interests rates are at all time lows (and no one seems concerned about this), and prices are at all time highs with flocks of motivated buyers plunking down serious dough for seriously mediocre houses in major cities.
Americans today are still trying to live the dream of years ago.
Mark Manson defined the american dream in his most excellent post as this sense of infinite growth and optimism. His main point was that the American economic system is no longer an ocean of profitability and opportunity. Nor is it a world in which those that deserve success (due to their beliefs or ideas) actually attain it.
He laments the American Economic machine and does in fact claim that the culture of trying to attain it is ‘killing us’.
Is he right? Yeah probably.
But what do we do about it? What’s the point of identifying a broken system?
For the lazy or completely incompetent, nothing more is required. Carry on with your college educations, with your mortgages and serious debt, and slowly settle down into the middle of american existence.
*Side Note* that’s not to say that there is even anything wrong with doing this, but if you’re looking for an exceptional life, the american dream just isn’t going to hack it.
We need a new framework for pursuing self actualization in money, health, and life.
We need a new american dream.
The New Game: Re-envisioning the American Dream
So what has changed in the world since we (as Americans) dared to try and live a happy and fulfilled life?
The internet and the smart phone revolution will go down as one of the most pivotal eras in world history. No longer do you need to rely on libraries, or a downtown office in order to get your information or make money.
With the internet and smart phones comes the biggest shift, location independence. At SRM we are all over this and think the ability to move freely through the world is one of the biggest levers for personal satisfaction.
Economic Models (venture capital, crypto, microtransactions)
Business is done differently now. Gone are the days of Madison Ave Don Drapers strutting around in heavy suits and chain smoking lucky strikes coated in butter.
Everything is leveraged now. With capital (never been easier to invest and get funded for an idea), software (massive leverage on your efforts), or even the foundational structure of how value can be flitted around the globe for free (crypto). Even the notion of the shared or gig economy (airbnb, uber) has completely changed how we use assets like cars and apartments. Why buy it when you can rent just the exact slice you need?
These developments mean you shouldn’t be grinding it out at the office or climbing the corporate ladder, they mean you can.
Openness to new ideas
The world has become much more open and accepting compared to even 30 years ago. Different lifestyles, relationships, dreams, are starting to become more commonplace. In short, this is the least judgmental period in history. Use this to create your own reality.
The New American Dream is one of Freedom and Choice, Not Stuff
White picket fence, 2 Brand new cars in the driveway, stay at home mom and 2.5 kids, commuting to your office job writing ads.
These just aren’t going to cut it anymore. But how to squeeze the most out of this new age of technology, and openness?
By building a lifestyle of abundance and optionality.
You don’t want the house, you want to be able to bounce between 10 rental houses scattered around the globe.
You don’t want the 2 cars, but want to be able to get anywhere you want anytime with ease.
You don’t want the commute to the corner office, you want the fully online business that chunks money into your account each month.
And maybe you don’t want the stay at home mom, but one of hundreds of more interesting (or emotionally fulfilling) types of relationships.
Or maybe you do want something more classic. That’s fine too. The point is that you can build a life that gives you the freedom to pick and pursue those dreams.
No longer are you shackled to one type of american dream. Figure out what matters most to you, and then leverage the ‘new age’ and economy to structure your own.