Ah, The American Dream…what comes to mind when you hear that phrase? A comfortable home, a happy family, and a bright future? A thriving free market economy? Ground floor opportunities you can ride all the way up to the top? A star-spangled promise that if we work hard enough and think big enough, anything is possible?
No matter how clear your vision of the American Dream might be, it’s even more clear, in these complicated times, that Americans probably aren’t all dreaming about the same thing. So we invite you to think about what YOUR American Dream is, how it’s changed over time, and how you’re working to make it come true.
In 1931, historian James Adams famously defined the American Dream as, "That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement…a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”
So essentially, merit over circumstance. The notion that hard work should pay off, and that we all deserve a fair shot at whatever it is we’re aiming for. It sounds great, but 87 years after Adams wrote those words, and 242 years after our founding fathers promised “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the gender pay gap is still wide open even as more women than ever hold full time jobs, and socioeconomic status can still play a role in determining what opportunities may be available to us.
At some point, “a chicken in every pot, and a car in every garage” might have been the American dream. At some point, there was a pretty simple template for what a successful American family looked like. But our expectations adapt to our situation. Success is a fluid concept.
As we shift away from rigid benchmarks and toward the cultivation of a growth mindset, devastating “failures” become empowering “learning opportunities,” and setbacks only make us stronger. As our nation sits under 1.5 trillion dollars of student loan debt, the standard that higher education provides a reliable path to financial security is challenged. As the American experience evolves and expands, it’s increasingly obvious that “The American Dream” can have many different interpretations.
So what does it mean to you?
Maybe your American dream doesn’t look like a Norman Rockwell painting. Maybe it can’t be contained by a white picket fence. And why should it? The pursuit of happiness doesn’t take us all in the same direction, and that’s what makes it beautiful.
The modern American Dream
Many members of our parents’ generation may have had similar goals…go to college, get a job, get married, buy a house, raise a family, and live a good life. That “good life” comes in a lot of different flavors, though, and as a society, we’re beginning to explore more of them.
As the startup business model gains momentum, and hands-on experience gains respect, college isn’t the only road to a successful career anymore. As technology allows us to be more mobile and many of us take our careers on the road, being a homeowner doesn’t necessarily make sense for everyone. Not everyone wants to get married. Not everyone wants to have kids. Some people want it all, and then some.
What we do all have in common, though, is the fierce instinct to protect the ones we love and the legacies we’ve built. Life insurance can help provide some of that protection. Our Life Covered℠ is here to help you find a reliable, affordable life insurance policy that fits your American Dream, no matter what it looks like.