A Brief History
In 1931, writer and historian James Truslow Adams (1878–1949) defined the American Dream as follows: “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. Did you know that no longer than 2 years ago most Americans said that they either achieved the “American dream” or were on the way to achieving it, while only 9% of college graduates claimed it to be out of reach?! Though the very notion of the “American dream” is hard to standardize, it is clear that the hardworking nation must be pretty satisfied with themselves. But are the skies as clear as it seems? Does working hard necessarily mean we embrace our dreams?
The same research showed quite a surprising data on ambitions of Americans: ‘becoming wealthy’ with its modest 11% is lagging far behind the more precious values of ‘owning a home’, ‘making valuable contributions to community’, ‘retiring comfortably’, ‘having a good family life’, and ‘having a freedom of choice in how to live’. The lion’s share of respondents marked wealth as either ‘important, but not essential’ or ‘not important’ at all!
But does this mean you are destined to get there if you’re working really hard? Not at all! According to the data on more than 50 000 employees, collected by the University of London Institutional Repository, overworking eventually results in fatigue, stress, and low job satisfaction rate, let alone creativity and productivity loss.
But how not to give up, knowing that hard work may (not) pay off? Seemingly complex, the matter can be reduced to two simple yet working ideas of setting goals/directing your efforts and being consistent.
Set Your Goals and Make Sure You Direct Your Efforts Accurately
To get a head start, make sure you’re working on something valuable, something that motivates you and makes you fulfilling, as well as something that is really viable and achievable. According to Tami Rosen, Vice President of People at Quora, there’s a list of 8 questions about motivation, passion, impact, challenges, growth, responsibility, translating values, and satisfaction from the working process itself. Answer them in the very first place.
Set milestones and check if you’re making improvements over time, as it is vital to adjust your strategy if you happen to stuck at some point. Remember that you are to get the same old result unless you introduce changes. And it doesn’t matter how far you have already gone – on the contrary, the further you go, the greater the room for improvement that you’re unlocking. And it doesn’t really matter what you’re dealing with – online casinos that guarantee best payouts or wholesale business, the key is that it should fulfill you.
Dig deeper at the start to avoid the trap of being in the wrong place and with the wrong people.
Do not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew. Be Consistent
Working hard is tiresome, right? You may think something like “Well, sometimes it’s better to push on through, no matter how much your mind and body may protest. Sometimes it’s the only way to get through.” Fair enough, but it’s within most people’s capabilities to split their routine into several smaller blocks and remain consistent, which is much more valuable in terms of long-term development.
As long as the goal is clearly defined, whether it is to run your first sub-4:00 marathon, or grab 1k more followers, it is all about sticking to the plan and completing that minute daily tasks. Sounds plain, but most hard-workers are doomed to fail here, naively thinking they can make a difference in a single everlasting effort.
Indeed, treat yourself as a brand, and brand yourself with consistency. You already have that authenticity, strength, and emotions, and the only remained brick to building that wall of success is consistency.
For How Long Should I Wait Until My Efforts Pay Off?
Well, it is typically 1 to 3 months:) Laughing, aren’t you? There is no crystal ball to tell you when you succeed, or will you at all, but one thing is clear: the highest reward for your toil is not what you get for it, but what you become by it. Shoot for the stars whether you are destined to reach them or not, as by doing the job of your dream you forge a deeper connection with yourself.
Question for students (and subscribers): What is your American dream? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Cullen, Jim. The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation. Oxford University Press, 2004.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of The Americanization of California, one of four “great eras of California history” murals by Dean Cornwell at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles, California, is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID highsm.24474. This work is from the Carol M. Highsmith Archive collection at the Library of Congress. According to the library, there are no known copyright restrictions on the use of this work. Carol M. Highsmith has stipulated that her photographs are in the public domain. This work is also in the public domain in the United States, because it was published in the United States between 1924 and 1977 without a copyright notice. See Commons:Hirtle chart for further explanation.