2014: The Year of a New American Dream.

What it means to be wealthy, valuing time over stuff & getting rich.

After recording every regret I heard a dying person confess, there was no wishing they had larger homes or more things. Yet, among the top of their regrets were ‘I wish I hadn’t of worked so much’ and ‘I wish I kept in touch with my friends. – Bronnie Ware, a nurse to the elderly. (paraphrased)


I’m a sucker for some good, hearty new year’s resolutions. However, as my wife & I have evaluated our 2013 (details here), our resolutions have become entirely about cultivating a new kind of American dream.

The American Dream.

There’s an American dream in all of us. It began as a beautiful sentiment heralded throughout the 19th & 20th century claiming that anyone, regardless of their beginnings, could prosper.

Overtime, however, by way of things like competitive markets, a great depression, and the rise of consumerism, this collective dream has become dependent on only ONE kind of capital, that being financial.

Sadly, this modern brand of our American Dream tends to define wealth one-dimensionally and can often make us believe that the quality, enjoyment & value of our life is determined by how much money is in our bank account or the amount of stuff we can acquire before we die.

This isn’t true.

And, from the sounds of too many first-hand accounts about excessive finances and having more things rarely equating to genuine fulfillment, it’s obviously an incomplete and antiquated dream.

Real wealth is more than money.

Omair Haque, a sociologist and the author of Betterness, paints a different picture of prosperity. He says…

A good life is about more than quantity of gross product. It’s about real net wealth. And real wealth, in turn, consists of much more than mere money. When a person is wealthy relationally in social capital, personally in human capital, emotionally in emotional capital, and intellectually in intellectual capital, he or she might be said to be authentically, broadly, and deeply rich.

Inspired by Omair and others, my wife and I are beginning to dream a different dream for our family in 2014. It’s not a new dream to many, but certainly a new experiment for us.

It’s a dream that redefines what it means to be wealthy.

It’s more about the freedom of time than a nicer car.

It’s a lifestyle that prioritizes relationships rather than a forced addiction to career.

It’s a mentality that favors long-term investment over having more stuff.

(If interested, you can read our 2014 resolutions, which accumulated to a few simple perspective shifts that change the way we’re going to allocate our time and money. IE: time over things, relationships over excessive work, long-term investment over short term)

The truth is that the quality of our lives is not contingent on the number of zero’s in our bank account or our ability to acquire more things. Quality of life is far more holistic than that and demands a more balanced investment into the various layers of our lives.

Join us in getting “rich” in 2014.

Let’s channel some of the energy we often give to acquiring financial capital into cultivating more relational, more spiritual, more intellectual, more physical and more emotional capital.

Let’s not simply make a list of new year’s resolutions this year. Let’s redefine what it means to be wealthy and design our lives accordingly.

  • Jenn

    As a twenty-something, it is very encouraging to read blogs written by my peers that exude great advice and spur others into living wisely. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

  • http://thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

    Great post! And even better wisdom my friend! With so many watching, it’s great to hear and see you pushing back on the boundaries of what’s common and easily accepted. You’re a good man!

  • http://tylerwardis.com/ tyler ward

    Means the world J.

  • http://tylerwardis.com/ tyler ward

    Love to hear that Jenn. I’m just happy to hear my random rants are actually making sense to a few people.

  • Miguel Calvis

    Hey Tyler! I love reading your blog, though as a reader from spain sometimes I can feel its a challenge to share these ideas with some of my friends or even my wife, as the country is now going out of a big economical crisis, for many people “money” becomes the answer to many of their problems, as they think that other who have money can have a more enjoyable life which is can be sometimes true and sometimes not. But in fact I think this post gives a very good clue on how to live in a more balanced and stable world, big part of this world crisis is the selfish interests in the people and companies to have more “mistaken wealth” while forgetting to focus on the “good wealth” you are talking about in this blog, I think this not should be an american dream but something that each country in the world should try apply on every level starting in the family and even in the government, changing our priorities as you many times talk in your blogs can help us to live in a world of more shared values, interdependence and mutual prosperity, thanks again for remind us what’s important in our lives :)
    And I also have a question for you: How do you think is the best way to make someone believe that money can’t solve all of his/her problems? How to make them change their focus to other things whenthey are so obsessed with money as the one who can change their lives? I hope that was enough clear! ;)

  • http://tylerwardis.com/ tyler ward

    Miguel Calvis: great thoughts and challenge. I agree that this mentality can be applied in an economy.

    Regarding how someone might be demagnetized from money, thats a hard one. Its also one I’m wrestling with myself.

    My only answer is to keep sharing stories of those that have lost their soul or the people they loved while chasing money. The hope is not demonize money, but to “warn” people that an obsession with it can kill souls and substance quicker than most things. It really does take a significant shift in values, but its a shift I think more people than I assume are willing to make.

    You have any thoughts on how to go about helping someone out of an addiction to the idea of money?

  • Sondra Koelewyn

    I am not in the 30’s age group but rather a woman in her 60’s. I remember those younger years and by nature feeling busy with life, children, work etc. I am also bi-polar which put busyness and the stress it causes into perspective for me. Your blog was very interesting and meaniful for me. I think with age comes this respect for idleness. Something good to have at a younger age. I see my children (in their 30’s) struggle with this concept also. Hopefully your view will catch on!

  • sondra koelewyn

    My comment was to the blog on “busy isn’t respectful any more”

  • JW

    Great post. It would seem to me that $$ helps achieve all these things. Its not the end all be all, but sure helps. To me the greatest value of $$ is time, money buys time, to invest in whatever one values.