The Demise of the American Dream

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 10/29/09 •  5 min read
This no longer has to be your dream...unless you want it to be.

This no longer has to be your dream...unless you want it to be.

Growing up there were certain values that were instilled in me.  Not necessarily by my family or friends, but rather by society as a whole.  Society led me to believe that there was a certain path that I should follow, and if I didn’t, well then I must be a failure.  This path included your traditional college education, getting a prominent career right after graduation, and were I to continue down the path I am on, marriage, kids and a hefty mortgage would certainly be the next steps.   While I have nothing against marriage, kids and a mortgage (and hope to have all three when the time is right), it is amazing to me that to this day if you are on a path other than this, you are viewed in a negative light by many.  Of course there are exceptions to this rule:   successful actors, sports figures and self made entrepreneurs being the most common.  Notice how I use the qualifying word, successful.

Historically, America has been the land of opportunity; a place for people’s dreams to flourish.  Millions of people have moved to the United States from all over the world, just to pursue their version of the American dream, which has changed many times over throughout the years.

In the early 20th century, it represented a chance for people of all ages and backgrounds to go out on a limb, and create a new life for themselves in any way possible.  There is inherently a lot of risk in that.  Imagine packing up your family and bags, moving halfway across the world, with no money, and then starting to forge a new life for yourself.  Talk about a daunting task.

As the decades went on, it appears as though somewhere the entrepreneurial aspect of what the American dream initially stood for was lost.  Rather than living a life of taking chances and uncertainty, the American dream became the generic path that was laid out in the beginning of this article.  One of passive comfort, with little regard to doing the things that really get you excited in life.

Well once again, after decades of risk-averse lives, things are beginning to shift.  I am happy to report that the newest iteration of the American dream has nothing to do with picket fences or spending 30 years at the same career.  Sure there will always be people who choose that path, and will be completely happy doing it, but it is great to see society finally embracing the idea of change.

These days, I don’t think there is a single path I could head down in life in which I couldn’t find a supportive community.

So you want to quit your job and travel the world? No problem, here are a thousand blogs and people to follow on Twitter who will support you every step of the way!  Perhaps you want to start your own birdhouse building conglomerate?  Google it, there is plenty of support out there.

The point is, no longer are we limited to what society wants us to be.  No longer do we need to conform to archaic ideas of what should make us happy.  Now we are able to find out for ourselves, and that is an exciting thing to be a part of.

Location180 is a fantastic example of that.  I would be willing to bet that each one of you reading this is trying to find a way to make yourself happy.  You want to do things a little bit different.  Maybe not drastically different, but there is a change you would like to make, a change that just a few years ago you would have been looked down upon for pursuing.  If you are reading this, and you aren’t looking to make a change of  any sort, tell us about it in the comments.  I would love to hear a different perspective.

Anyways the point of all of this is that these days I don’t think there is such a thing as the American dream.  Rather, American’s have dreams that are all so different from one another, that you can no longer group them into one common goal.  I think the demise of the American dream is the best thing that could happen to any of us.  Not only has the time come to live our lives in a different way, but the resources are there to help us.

So what is your American dream?  How are you achieving it and how can I (we) help?  I am living mine.  The opportunities that have begun to come my way in the last week have far surpassed my expectations.  And you know what, none of them involve me wearing a tie.  Ok I take that back, one of them did, but that isn’t up for consideration at the moment.

Thanks for being you.  Thanks for doing things different.  Thanks for the support you have shown me.

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Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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