The American dream means something different to each individual. It’s important to know the different perspectives of the people around you to understand them more fully.
So, what is the American dream today?
We asked CEOs and business leaders this question for their best insights. From creating a meaningful life to having opportunities, there are several views of the American Dream today.
To these 13 business professionals, the American dream is:
- Personal Freedom
- The Pursuit of Happiness
- A Continuous Journey
- A Generational Construct
- Having Opportunities
- Creating a Meaningful Life
- Starting a Successful Business
- Finding Your Passion
- Embracing Equality
- Endless Opportunities For All
- Comfort and Peace
The American dream is unchanged: personal freedom. At the start, it was simply the freedom to think, speak, and believe as desired. Then, it became the freedom to dream, and so we collectively dreamt of security: a roof, a home, the proverbial chicken in every pot. Security became financial freedom, and so we worked harder, chasing legacy and a cushy retirement.
Now, all at once, we’ve realized the value and scarcity of time. Clearly, tomorrow is not promised. And so, we’re starting side hustles, working from home, and choosing the kid’s soccer game over that company meeting. Having control over how and with whom we spend our time is the ultimate freedom — at once, the new and original American dream.
Tim Toterhi, Plotline Leadership
The Pursuit of Happiness
The American dream has focused largely on the idea that the pursuit of success is widely accessible for all individuals. Success, however, is subjective.
In today’s world, happiness has become equivalent to success. More and more, people are seeking out opportunities that are fulfilling and bring joy. The American Dream has largely shifted from material success to emotional success.
Beth Baranski, Markitors
Today’s American dream has been defined as being undefinable. Given the individualistic society that we Americans have so generously crafted since the beginning of our time, everyone’s American dream is different.
For many, it might be the traditional mindset of a family with two kids, a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, and a solid-paying job. For others, especially nowadays given the shift in societal norms and given the shift in jobs offered, it could mean something completely different.
That said, the American dream is whatever you dream of.
Tom Mumford, Undergrads
A Continuous Journey
The idea of success is transforming into much more than making money. For many, success is now the combination of setting goals, maintaining high standards, and committing to a purpose that benefits the greater good.
Setting goals gives you a sense of purpose in life and drives you both personally and professionally on a path of continuous improvement. And to stay on that path, it takes personal standards to determine your behavior and guide your decision-making.
Standards also provide a way to measure behavior, performance, and outcomes. Then committing to something bigger than yourself drives your efforts and transforms the meaning behind what you are trying to achieve.
Jared Pobre, Caldera + Lab
The American dream, in my opinion, is the ability to live a well-rounded life, the ability to have control of your week and fit all the needs into your schedule. Career success is of course important, we need to support ourselves and our families, but at what cost?
The American dream is the ability to have time for your family, work on your physical and mental health, spend quality time with friends, enjoy experiences, and participate in hobbies or other interests. We all want to enjoy our lives and achieve success that looks different for each person, but the ability to find that balance and have that control is the true American dream.
Alison Stine, Stine Wealth Management
Nurturing a Future With Social Impact
I think we need to move past the idea that there is a singular American dream. Different generations define freedom differently. It is this diverse definition of the concept that is at the center of much of the unrest we are experiencing today.
Some believe that the less government that exists, the better, while others think that a government’s function is to ensure that citizens should not have to worry about the basics such as food and shelter. Where on this spectrum your values lay defines your American dream.
Personally speaking, my dream is one where I have created enough income from multiple different sources so that I am able to work when I want, where I want, and be able to have the time to make an impact on a social issue that is important to me.
My dream is more important than a big house and luxury vehicles. What is the point of these if we are working literally just to own our things? At that point, do we own our things, or do they own us?
Steven Brown, DP Electric Inc
As a human, I believe the American dream entails the ability to enjoy life without constraints. I believe that as a father, you can teach your children the conviction that they have the power to shape and control their own destiny.
The American dream is the ability to earn your way to a better life. Many individuals work hard to survive around the world, but the American dream includes the opportunity to reap large rewards as a result of their hard effort.
Sumit Bansal, TrumpExcel
Creating a Meaningful Life
I feel that the American dream today is to move towards the most important things in life again. The pandemic has also had an influence on the same.
People have realized that creating a meaningful life centered around things that they love doing, spending time with friends and family, being in the vicinity of nature, and contributing to society and community are things that give them true joy. As a result, they have started moving towards all such things.
The great resignation is an example of the same. People are no longer ready to work in jobs where they don’t feel good. So, in my opinion, the American dream today is to return to the old ways of living where joy and happiness reside in our hearts.
Isabelle S Taylor, Assignmenthelp4me
Starting a Successful Business
Over the years, the concept of the American dream has definitely changed. Initially, it all focused on freedom, including the right to live where you choose with whom you choose, take up the occupation that you choose, and spend your free time (you guessed it!) as you choose.
But today, as Americans (or those hoping to become U.S. citizens), starting a successful business is also rooted firmly in the scope of the American dream. With so many opportunities available, entrepreneurs from all walks of life — and with very little cash in their pockets — can create a business pitch and quickly find their way to being a business owner. Through hard work and constant networking, it’s all possible!
Marc Atiyeh, Pawp
Finding Your Passion
The American dream today includes pursuing something you are passionate about, making money doing it, and living your life the way you want to live it. Obviously, work is a part of life, and finding something that you are passionate about and pursuing it makes your dream come true.
It is also important to make time for friends, family, and hobbies and be able to balance your work and life in a way that optimizes your life. If you are able to do all of these things, then you are living the American dream.
John Wu, Gryphon Connect
The American Dream has evolved. It’s broader and more diverse than it used to be. Originally, it was men and women striving for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but now it’s more complex.
People desire equality. They want to live in a country where their ethnicity, gender, or religion isn’t preventing them from reaching their goals and aspirations. Students want to graduate college without being saddled with debt for the rest of their lives. Women want to be able to find a balance between raising their children and excelling at their job.
Americans, in general, want a career that offers them a healthy dose of work-life balance. We live in somewhat turbulent times, and I think the American Dream today is being able to create a life that leaves a person feeling calm and content.
Melanie Bedwell, Olipop
Endless Opportunities for All
The American dream today is having a sense of community while achieving financial success regardless of their initial social status. Everyone should feel included and have endless opportunities. While the American dream is always evolving, this is a dream that remains consistent over time.
Corey Walters, Here
Comfort and Peace
Today’s American dream is one slowly evolving out of the Baby Boomer and Gen X ideals into what is attainable and desired by the Millennial and Gen Z generations. This new American dream tends to be much less focused on buying a home and starting a nuclear family and much more on finding general financial peace and comfort in conjunction with workplace satisfaction and time freedom.
Kashish Gupta, Hightouch
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