EDITOR’S NOTE: Last night on the TV show Chopped, there was a lady who came to America with $70 and a suitcase. She now owns 3 food trucks and won the show, claiming she’s living the “American Dream.”
The “American Dream” is an ideal by which equality of opportunity is available to anyone, allowing the highest aspirations and goals to be achieved.
But let’s take a step back. For thousands of years, workers farmed by daylight and were forced to stop at night. There were natural boundaries between what we call “work” and “life,” and never the twain shall meet.
However, the Industrial Revolution gave birth to electricity, and with it, a dimming and blurring of the lines. Now, with the technological revolution and the Information Age, we are always on, always connected, always hustling. And if you work hard, you too can live the American Dream.
But what’s the price we pay?
Is this really the American Dream?
We’ve all seen it happen, from founders and executives to interns and newly-minted, first-year workers — the relentless pursuit of success leaves destruction in its wake. The price we pay isn’t always tangible, like money, but rather intangibles, like relationships.
In his new book The UnAmerican Dream, Carlos Hidalgo shares his thrilling journey to entrepreneurial triumph, and the simultaneous path to rock bottom. With it, you may just realize the way you’re working isn’t working.
You won’t find this essential advice in a business book. They didn’t teach it to you in school. Most learn it the hard way.
But you don’t have to.
I’ve invited Carlos on to the Engagio blog for a departure of our usual B2B content so he can help answer some of life’s important questions, “Is it all really worth it?”
Please enjoy this guest post by a good friend, esteemed colleague, and humble sage Carlos Hidalgo.
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The American Dream was a phrase that was first used by John Truslow Adams in 1931 in his book The Epic of America. Within the book Adams writes the following when referring to this dream, “a land that should be better, and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement”. It is lofty, no doubt. However, along the way something has gone terribly awry as many in corporate America today are not living “richer or fuller lives.”
- A recent study by LinkedIn revealed that nearly half of workers (49%) report being stressed in their jobs
- A recent Gallup study of nearly 7,500 full-time employees found that 23 percent reported feeling burned out at work very often or always, while an additional 44 percent reported feeling burned out sometimes
- A study by the American Sociological Review revealed that 70% of American workers struggle to find work-life balance
Even as marketers, we are not immune to this trend. A 2019 report by MarketingProfs and Mantis Research states that only half of marketers are “finding fulfillment in their work.”
Does not sound all too dreamy, does it?
This is indeed an alarming trend. However, we do not have to succumb to the message of the hustle that is so loud in today’s professional marketplace, we do not have to buy into the lie that says we are the “scarce resource at work” therefore we must continually stay connected and we do not have to neglect ourselves and our relationships in lieu of our professions, which clearly is not working.
There is a better way!
I know this because not long ago, I was the poster boy for the hustle. As an owner of a B2B demand generation agency, I put everything I had into the growth of our business and made it my focal point. I was bound and determined to outwork everyone in an effort to achieve success and along the way, I found that the more I achieved, the more success we had, the more unfulfilled and narcissistic I became.
In reality, the “dream” that I was chasing became a nightmare.
So how does one go about reclaiming happiness and fulfillment? While I do not believe I can detail all of my journey of doing so with one blog post, here are a few things to begin thinking through that will be of help.
1. Find Your Purpose
I see so many, and I myself fell into this trap, of defining my purpose within my work. However, as human beings, we are wired for relationship first and foremost and when we put our identity and purpose into our work rather than what we are hardwired for, happiness will remain elusive.
For me, I spent time exploring what brings me true joy and I discovered that above everything I love to help people. Once I discovered that I began to identify how I could do that first within my relationships and then within my work. This approach has changed things dramatically and allowed me to live out my purpose in different ways, which are truly life-giving.
2. Define Your Boundaries
As evidenced by the research stated earlier, work-life balance is virtually impossible to maintain. It is for this reason, I have established work-life boundaries, which are more established and permanent.
I started, along with my wife, of defining those things that I value – my health, my marriage, my relationship with my kids and my work. Once those were defined, I established boundaries to protect them. I have defined working hours, which means when I am working, I am wholly focused and when I am tending to my relationships or my health, I am off the clock and equally as focused on those areas. The result is that whatever lane I am in at that time is getting the best of me and my efforts.
3. Choose Happiness
We all have a tendency to rely on things or people to make us happy. We have this idea that if I just get that promotion, if that person just does these certain things, then we will be happy. To be clear, things and people are not responsible for our happiness, we are.
We choose to be angry, be unfulfilled, and unhappy. However, we do not have to make that choice.
This does not mean we will not have hard times, have projects and campaigns that don’t work or have bosses we would rather not work for, but at the end of the day, we can choose happiness over stress and despair.
Our founding fathers, in the Declaration of Independence, wrote about “truths that are self-evident” and one of those was “Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness”. It is our right and ours for the taking.
So what are you going to do with it? The choice is yours, but let’s not fall prey to the toxic message of work is more and success is defined by monetary means as after all that is quite UnAmerican.
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About Carlos Hidalgo:
Carlos Hidalgo is a 25-year business veteran. Over the span of the last 2+ decades, Hidalgo has held corporate roles, started his own entrepreneurial ventures and served in non-profits.
Hidalgo co-founded his first company in 2005 leading it to two consecutive Inc. 5000 Awards before departing and launching his second company VisumCx.
In addition to his current role as CEO at VisumCx, Hidalgo also serves as a managing partner in a health care platform start-up and serves on the board on a tech start-up and writes often on the intersection of business and personal success.
Carlos and his wife Susanne have four grown children and live in Colorado Springs, CO.
You can follow Hidalgo on Twitter @cahidalgo
Buy The UnAmerican Dream on Amazon: http://bit.ly/unamericandream