The American Dream is being updated - Part 2

In the late1970s, as an unprecedented number of women entered the workforce the notion of work began to change. It was no longer a job, but a career. Slowly, but surely, the notion of work starting at 9 and ending at 5 became a thing of the past.  For working couples this meant more income and the ability to buy bigger homes, better cars, private education, and abundant luxury items, but it also meant they were building a lifestyle based on the requirement for two incomes. Working moms became super moms and taking time off to raise a child was unheard of for most women (and often not financially possible). Soon, this was followed by a move away from working in one company for your lifetime to becoming your own brand and being told “you have to take care of yourself.”  The Catalyst organization reported, “…. by 2005, the family structure changed dramatically in which only 17% of households had a husband in the workforce and wife who was not bringing in a paycheck, down 63% since 1950. (1)  That means over 83% of households have two working adults and approximately half of those have children under 18. This shift in lifestyle alone has drastically changed how Americans and people in other countries as well, spend their time. The net result is that a lot less time is available for anything but developing your career and taking care of the children and household chores.


            Simultaneously, many of us were led to believe that if we were loyal, hard working, productive, and continuously added value; jobs would be plentiful, our retirements would be secure, careers would keep on developing, and the American lifestyle would be a given. Even as we lived through recession after recession, layoff after layoff, companies taking away retirements, benefits, and our overall security, we still believed in the elusive dream. We trusted in the growth of the GNP, the finance markets, the stock markets, and our leaders. The irony is that we kept on believing, working harder than ever, and ignoring all the indications around us.


            The American Dream as we knew it was shifting like sand from under our feet. By 2001 the signs were crystal clear that our view of the future was changing at lightening speed.  By 2008, everything was up for grabs. We had to begin to rethink work, life, family, careers, jobs, retirement, and the pursuit of happiness.




Excerpted from Courage and Croissants, Inspiring Joyful Living by Suzanne Saxe-Roux and Jean P. Roux