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We’re going to talk about American expectations versus the American Dream. Many people feel that the American Dream is dead and that it’s just like Moby Dick, a great work of fiction. Really, I don’t think the American Dream is dead. I don’t even think it’s on life support.
What is really the problem is the expectations that Americans have. Notice the great American Dream is about dreams. Dreams are something that are unrealized, something that you work on. Dreams are something that you focus on. They aren’t a given and that’s where we run into problems. The Great American Dream has become the Great American “Got It” for some people.
Part of the American Dream is getting a college degree. Here’s a fact for you. There are many people who aren’t suited for college. It doesn’t mean they’re not worthy. It doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent. It just means college is not their thing. Many people who didn’t set foot in college actually contributed greatly to this country. There are many, many accomplished people from many walks of life that did not attend college or who dropped out.
I think one of the things that is really problematic for our education system is that everyone is on the college track when there are a lot of things you can do to be productive and serve society without college. Actually, the wealthiest guy in the world didn’t graduate. That’s just another thing for you to think about.
Let’s talk about what is really killing people’s hopes and dreams. I am talking about the expectation that people have that doing well is a “Given.” People believe that because they went to college and sat “X” amount of hours in class that they are going to be successful.
Based on the number of people who protested in the Occupy Wall Street movement, a lot of folks with mortgage level student debt are not marketable in today’s world. I don’t want to be mean, but part of me wants to ask why you didn’t really research the market. If you had, you would have had a clue. You may have not been 100% prepared, but I went through a similar analysis of my own life almost two decades ago. I looked at the risks and rewards associated with college. You have to really crunch the numbers.
I knew a person who had a job that most people needed a degree to get. He got it because he actually went out and started a business in that field and became exceptionally knowledgeable. He doesn’t look for jobs. They come looking for him. The nugget of wisdom there is if you prepare yourself for your field and gain expertise to a level that people admire and respect, it doesn’t matter if you have a degree many times. You can still make money.
Getting back to the American Dream versus expectations, people are looking for stamp…stamp…stamp…Gimmee…Gimmee…Gimmee. The world doesn’t work that way. It never has and it never will.
We have a new type of slave today. They’re called college graduates with heavy student loans. That’s the new slave. That’s the new “Gotcha.” If you have from $60K to $150K in student loan debt, it could haunt you for the next 20 or 30 years, robbing you of the ability to start a business, buy a house or have a decent life, which is the very thing you went to school to obtain.
It’s kind of ironic when you think about it. You would have been better off taking that $50K to $80K and starting a Subway franchise. You’d be making money. I’ve noticed very few Subway locations closing.
The American Dream is pretty much whatever you want it to be. People have created their version of the American Dream that may or may not mesh with their life. That’s the problem. It comes from not applying critical thinking to your life.
We’re bombarded by a ton of information every day. If you want to learn things you can do it on the internet from the comfort of your home. One of the problems people have is a lack of focus. They want to be in touch with everything. I actually eliminate some of the information I receive because I realize I don’t need it.
There are a lot of things I don’t watch or consume because they don’t make me any smarter. Some of it actually makes me stupid. That’s one of the reasons my TV watching time is pretty low compared to the average person’s. I’ve probably watched 10 hours this week and it’s Friday.
I have a challenge for you. Take an hour today and unplug. Turn off your TV and your cellphone. Write down what you want out of life. Be specific. You’ll be amazed what you come up with when you are not distracted.
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