Don’t we all dream of living a life filled with happiness, well-being, and financial independence? They might as well be the driving factors when it comes to reaching for the American Dream. Oftentimes associated with the white American middle class and a stable, comfortable lifestyle, the American Dream, in fact, goes further than just that.

It’s the notion of “from rags to riches” that we have all heard of before. The idea that one can, no matter what the circumstance, rise to the top and make a name and living for oneself. Yet, it is not necessarily all about money and wealth. There’s more to the A-Dream than just the financial aspect and, thus, having a safe full of dollar bills. It symbolizes the hope that one can reach one’s dreams in the country where everything seems possible and all doors are open. Where one can be anyone, achieve whatever one desires, no matter the socio-economic class, ethnic or religious background.

Values Matter

However, a certain mindset and specific values matter. Although the A-Dream might generally stand for the opportunity to become and achieve whoever and whatever one desires (to be), people themselves need to take action. And with this, a particular mindset is required.

It isn’t really about becoming rich or famous. It is about things much simpler and more fundamental than that – Marco Rubio

The American Dream is not meant to “just happen” – and one lives a comfortable life, as imagined, over night. Essential values such as integrity, honest work, and a humble nature are what form the basis for success. The way to the A-Dream can be rocky. But it’s the belief that work, determination, patience and honesty in what one does, without taking shortcuts at any cost, are what will eventually make the dream a reality.

But what is the driving factor? It’s the goal of simply envisioning living a better life in every aspect. For oneself and one’s family.

According to a survey by the American Enterprise Institute and Research Center NORC at the University of Chicago, the American Dream is alive. More so, the responses showed that the core values are less centered around becoming wealthy, but rather having community, individuality, as well as personal freedom of choice as being fundamental for achieving one’s personal American Dream.

A Way of Thinking

We see our dreams in the distance, rising high, just like the skyline, so wonderfully appealing to us. And that’s what motivates us. But there’s no way around the battlefield that stands, figuratively, for making our way up – or through, for that matter – to the top of our game, grasping at every little opportunity we see. Though, it will take us closer to our American Dream.

The Big Apple is the epitome of the American Dream, giving hope that one can achieve one’s personal version of it – New York, USA

Keeping the underlying, traditional values of the original understanding of the A-Dream in mind, actions need to follow. If we hit rock bottom on the way, our belief that we are capable and that it is possible to reach our goals is what gets us back on our feet. We need to have faith in our personal American Dream being attainable with determined, courageous, and truthful actions.

The American Dream I believe in is one that provides anyone willing to work hard enough with the opportunity to succeed – Tammy Duckworth

It’s a way of thinking. A mind game. We need to step back and remember: No matter the situation in life, the willingness to work hard and not let the achievable dream out of sight will bring opportunities to succeed. Success – and so the vision of the American Dream – means something different to each of us. Basically, we all have a unique understanding of what the American Dream looks like for us personally. And while financial freedom might be an integral part, it is not everything.

Times Change, The Dream Remains

Working towards one’s goal with dedication is still the crucial value of the American Dream. Yet, there is a tendency towards expecting the A-Dream to just happen, instead of making it happen. If one doesn’t get rich right away, disappointment follows. But it’s important to understand what it originally meant. Determination. Belief. Work. Personal Success. In a country that provides the framework that is individual independence.

Nowadays, not everyone is having the same starting point. Let’s look at college, for instance. The financial barrier is immense, which creates an obstacle for many. Hence, this kind of education that, however, is valued in so many sectors these days, becomes selective. Unlike decades ago, where the actual “working with your bare hands” aspect had more meaning.

To make the A-Dream tangible, one had to go into a field one is passionate about and climb the ladder from within. This seems to change towards the idea of making money first, by any means, no matter the job, to have the freedom to create one’s very own American Dream.

The American Dream is independence and being able to create that dream for yourself – Marsha Blackburn

Nevertheless, people find ways to create their very own success story. Whatever way they see fit for themselves. Personal freedom of choice is the one fundamental thing. No matter how bumpy the road, follow that dream.

If you can imagine your life a certain way and genuinely hope that you can achieve exactly what you hope for, then you are already on the road to making your American Dream become reality. It’s not just about the money. And never should be. Keep your eyes set on what really matters.

What are you striving for?