The New American Dream
Industrial Age vs Information Age
Have you ever heard a parent tell their child, “You can do anything you put your mind to”? I never understood what it really meant, but I always appreciated the optimistic gesture. About three years, in the midst of my third career path, I finally understood the power in that statement. That realization led me to a choice.
So… I can do anything I put my mind to, but there’s no guarantee that me doing my anything will make me “white-picket-fence successful.” In an often harsh, capitalistic society is it wiser to spend my time and mental energy focusing on what I know will make money or, should I focus on what I know I will enjoy?
The cowardice created by my fear of failure has caused me to agonize over this choice. Failure has such high consequences. Taking that leap of faith can jeopardize my livelihood, relationships and self-confidence. Not taking that leap could lead to the chronic bitterness of ignored potential.
I’ve written about this topic numerous times and have consumed countless articles, videos and books about this leap into the world of the “Non-Nine-to-Fivers,” but I’ve only halfheartedly pursued it. After reading an article entitled, The New American Dream (which a friend randomly found in an airplane), something finally clicked. What is my American Dream?
Thanks to the magic that is the Internet, a person can actually do (or at least learn how to do), almost anything he puts his mind to, and do it with much less risk. In the past, someone with a passion for woodworking was limited to selling his creations to customers near his physical location. Perhaps there were already woodworkers in his town with similar skill and a long-standing reputation. The uphill battle to carve out a niche in that market was nearly impossible. Today, a craftsman of any kind can sell his wares across the globe with very little infrastructure or costs.
The Information Age allows us to explore the multitudinous ways of achieving our own dreams. Regardless of whether your dream is to write the next great novel, to start a consulting firm out of your home or become an expert in… anything, the resources available on the net enable you to do so. We can research our dreams and test our abilities until the big scary leap into a possible disaster becomes more like a few joyous skips into a more comfortable space.
As the old barriers to entry slowly fade away and more examples of a new American Dream emerge, becoming your idea of “successful” may also shift, as mine has. The moment I read that article, I realized that I would happily give up a large home in the ‘burbs with a two-car garage for the feeling of having achieved my true potential in whatever field truly interests me. The only thing holding me back from achieving my American Dream is me.