The New American Dream

I get the privilege to sit down with a lot of people and talk about their goals and dreams for the future. I talk with families, individuals, and business owners, young and old, and there’s always a common theme that seems to run rampant in our society. People want to be comfortable!

The word comfortable gets thrown around many times during my discussions with families. It normally comes out after I ask the question, “So what are some goals you’d like to achieve over the next 10 years?” What usually ensues next are blank stares, followed by a 3-second glance at their spouse (waiting for the other one to respond), and then a shrug of the shoulder followed by a statement such as “I don’t know… we just want to be comfortable…” When I go deeper to find out what that means to them, the next thing most people say is, “Well, we definitely want to buy a house!” Or, if they already own their home, they say “We at least want to pay off our home!” After that, their answers become more and more vague and unclear.

So why do most people believe that homeownership is a high priority goal in their life? Or more importantly, how did we get to a place where we believe homeownership will lead to comfort?

After seeing this pattern over years, and hearing the response from hundreds of middle class, American families, I took some time to really think deeper about this subject and where this thought process came from.

The answer to that question has become more apparent, which is, old thinking! Let me explain…

When it comes to many things in our society, we are a product of our thinking. However, what we’re not aware of is where our thoughts come from. Our thoughts come from information we have received, whether good or bad, positive or negative, over the course of our lives. We receive this information from friends, family, teachers, coaches, loved ones, the media, as well as all the things we read, hear and see. What we fail to realize is that all the information we are programmed with may not be correct. But because we usually trust the source its coming from, we feel that they have our best interest in mind, so we adopt it as truth. But the problem comes when we choose to not challenge that thought, and not form our own opinion, as to whether or not we believe that information. As that happens over time, mindsets get passed down from generation to generation. Until someone actually challenges why that thought exists, or where it comes from, incorrect information will continue to linger in the minds of many people.

So this brings me to the conclusion of our initial question, “Why do people place homeownership so high on their priority list of goals?” Quite simply the answer is because they’re operating out of an old way of thinking. The old goal of “living the American dream” consisted of having a family, 2.5 kids, and buying and living in a nice home, in a nice neighborhood, with a safe, secure job, that offered benefits and a good work life balance. This is the dream that has been programmed into people’s minds since the 1960’s, that people still adopt as truth to this day!

Unfortunately, that same thinking today, is what’s causing people to NOT live the American dream! Our society has evolved and its made a huge impact on our economy. So with jobs being less secure, employees getting paid less, inflation raising the price of goods, and people’s income remaining the same, that American dream we were once promised has become unattainable! However, because people haven’t changed their thinking, they’re still basing their goals off incorrect information, for the times we live in. And as a result, they’re currently trying to live out the old American dream, without recognizing that the definition of the American dream has changed.

The facts are, 75% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. People are getting laid off every day, and people aren’t making enough money to live “comfortable” lives. So instead of having people focus on homeownership as the primary goal for their future, maybe they should focus on the new American dream, which is no longer living paycheck to paycheck.

More people own homes in America, that can’t afford to own homes, so homeownership is no longer a dream for most American people (it’s actually more of a nightmare!). The true dream in America now, is making enough money to have adequate savings for an emergency, have savings for retirement, and savings for their children’s college education. While also having enough money to live “comfortably” without the worry of having more month at the end of your money!

So the next time someone asks you about your goals for the next 10 or 15 years, tell them, “I need to make more money!” It’s time to change our thinking, so we can change our lives!

Originally Posted on Medium