Pete and I often say we are “living the dream,” and it’s true. We’ve spent several years working hard to become location independent, and we’re looking forward to moving to Hawaii after the first of the year. But “living the dream” in today’s American economy is different for everyone. A conversation I had with a friend recently reminded me that dreams can change. Has your idea of living the dream become frozen in time?
Living the dream can mean different things at different points in life. In our early years, being location independent wasn’t even on our radar. We were fully engaged in the traditional pathway within the American economy, acquiring the “toys” and lifestyle accoutrements that we thought were necessary, and seeking employment with the right company. One by one, those dreams became real. But there was something we didn’t initially anticipate: We changed and so did our ideas about living the dream. An update was in order.
The Simple Dollar’s Trent Hamm, writing for the Christian Science Monitor explains that every dream should be flexible to accommodate the kind of update process we experienced. According to Hamm, maintaining the necessary flexibility to adjust what living the dream means to you should be the goal. He advises plans that might have more than one purpose, keeping financial obligations to a minimum to maximize cash on hand, and possessing a wide variety of skills that are transferable.
This makes sense. In an unpredictable American economy, flexibility is the new stability. Many people have put a Plan B in place to hedge against an unseen setback. Others are reassessing what living the dream really means to them and coming up with surprising answers – like giving up the trappings from the previous American economy and replacing them with an objective of becoming location independent in our case. Speaking to Dartmouth grads in 2011, Conan O’Brien remarked
“It is our failure to become our perceived ideal that ultimately defines us and makes us unique. It’s not easy, but if you accept your misfortune and handle it right, your perceived failure can become a catalyst for profound re-invention. …
No specific job or career goal defines me, and it should not define you. In 2000—in 2000—I told graduates to not be afraid to fail, and I still believe that. But today I tell you that whether you fear it or not, disappointment will come. The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality.”
What does living the dream in today’s American economy mean to you?