The defining decade

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The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter and how to make the most of them now

By Meg Jay, PhD

‘To achieve great things you need: a plan AND not quite enough time’  – Leonard Bernstein

Meg Jay firmly believes that 30 is not the new 20. Even though people settle down later, get married later, careers happen later, people die later. Claiming your 20’s as a period of adult developmental is one of the simplest most transformative things you can do for work, for love, for your happiness and maybe even the world. So, you shouldn’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.

Scarily, 80% of life’s most defining moments take place before the age of 35. Meaning that 8/10 of defining decisions, experiences and moments of realisation that make your life what it is will have happened by your mid-30’s. For example, The first 10 years of a career has an exponential impact on how much money you are going to earn. Generally, half of the population are married to, living with or dating their future partner by the age of 30. The brain finishes it second and final growth spurt in your 20’s as it rewires itself for adulthood. As a result, whatever it is you want to change about yourself… THIS is the time to change it. Your 20’s is the time to educate yourself about your options in life, it is the defining decade of adulthood.

The Defining Decade carries in it three main messages which can change your life:

  1. Get some identity capital. By this she means that you should do something that adds value to who you are, do something that is an investment in who you might want to be next.
  2. Use weak ties to find new opportunities. By huddling together with like minded peers you limits who you know, what you know, how you think, how you speak and where you will work. New people and opportunities almost always come from ‘weak ties’ e.g. our friends of friends of friends…
  3. You get to choose your own family as you grow up. You have to consciously choose who and what you want. Be as intentional with love as you are with work and start working on your marriage before you have one, by working on yourself.

Meg Jay uses real life examples of patients that she helped to illustrate her point beautifully and clearly.  Reading this book will teach you how to avoid things like the ‘cohabitation effect’ which is the misconception that living together is a good test for marriage (counterintuitive I know!) It will help you realise that Facebook is not an accurate representation of your life  or your ‘friends’ lives and you should focus on what you want not what other people are doing.

There is obviously a lot more in the book that is, but I don’t want to spoil it for you! The main message behind it is: Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You are deciding how your life will go right now.

By Olivia Hobden 

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