New Rules For American Dreams

Around this past Independence Day I have been reflecting on a uniquely American story, that of the American Dream.

Those who try to dismiss its relativity are not living in the same America I have lived in. Those who deny its current existence clearly are not viewing this country as I am. The American Dream is alive and kickin’ I can assure you.

American Dreams abound throughout this country. What has changed though is that they are no longer the result of hard work and playing by the rules. If you are searching down those paths, you too may be misguided, as so many infotainers and pundits are.

The American Dream is now reached by Working Smart and Creating New Rules.

Working smart doesn’t mean having a high IQ, but it does mean being smart about how you live your life and approach working your job. It means balance, which takes thoughtfulness and effort. Working smart means communicating – saying what you’re going to do, and doing what you said you’d do. Above all it means being true to yourself.

Nor is working smart a reflection of the type of profession you choose. It doesn’t mean that you need to be in a ‘smart’ industry, such as one that involves physics or biotechnology. One can work intelligently whether they are building homes, serving eaters, or creating honey.

Creating new rules does not mean breaking existing rules. It means following your instincts, listening to the smart part of you. Creating new rules is more about common sense than it is about a high IQ.

Understanding what people want, at the exact moment they may want it, in the fashion they wish to consume it. This is how a new rule to the game may get introduced. Old schoolers spend millions behind the curtain researching scientific data. The new American Dreamer just listens, watches, and reacts.

What is clear today is that no one knows the rules of the game because they are being exposed simultaneously as we play this game of life. Think of it similar to having tools and strengths being exposed throughout a video game only by playing and achieving levels.

The majority of Economists, Ambassadors, Scientists, Statisticians – so-called ‘experts’ – are wrong these days about the future. Sure, some are correct. But most would be 6 feet under if they were playing in Vegas.

This is because we are in the midst of unprecedented technology change, population growth, and global exposure. The world is changing so quickly that no one can predict even 12 months out.

The metrics by which we measure tangible things must be modified concurrent with the events that shape them. Therefore, today’s Dreams look more live a lava lamp than a stone carving.

In less than 15 years – just a third to a fourth of a person’s working career – Amazon, Google, and Facebook have exploded into social and economic powerhouses. Walmart and Target have overtaken Sears and Kmart. Lehman Brothers, Wachovia, and Washington Mutual – companies which employed highly paid, very experienced prognosticators – all met their demise.

Today’s American Dream is no longer “The” Dream, but “A” Dream, which can now be referred to as An American Dream, Your American Dream, My American Dream, or simply American Dreams.

We are evolving as a country to recognize that happiness and success are not necessarily a result of marriage, home ownership, 2.8 kids, the latest car, or climbing the corporate ladder.

This is why those that manage the media wonder if The American Dream is fading. It is because Their American Dream isn’t the American Dream of the future.

Tomorrow’s generations should not – must not – be discouraged by catastrophic headlines, because American Dreams are just that, dreams. They are ours to create, design, modify, expand. Mostly, American Dreams are ours to live.

I spent Independence Day part of an awesome local parade in Kirkland, WA, the same as millions across the country.

I experienced shared camaraderie, order, spirit, laughter, direction, joy, excitement, effort, and pride. These things, not bank accounts, loans, or property, are both the foundations and realizations of American Dreams.

American Dreams are quite strong, surely abundant, and are in process all over this great nation.

What’s your American Dream?

Photo credit: ‘American Dream‘ by Big Stock


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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