Must Read: The Defining Decade

While working on my job search, I came across Meg Jay‘s TED talk “Why 30 is Not the New 20”. I could relate to a lot of what she was saying as a recent college grad on a job hunt, looking for some direction and eager to get on with life (and out of my parents’ house if we’re being honest).

Intrigued by the TED talk, I headed to Amazon to buy Jay’s book, excited to hear more of what she had to say. At this point in my life, it is clear to me that I am about to make some big decisions, and a little advice definitely couldn’t hurt.

Right from the introduction, I knew buying the book was a good decision. Jay recalls claims from her clients in their twenties, including, “Last night I prayed for just one thing in my life to be certain.” PREACH. Ever since I got back from my trip to Europe, everything kind of has been up in the air, from where I will live, to who I will live with, where I will work….I could go on. It’s not that I don’t know what I want, just getting it takes some time (more time than I was expecting). And frankly, I am getting impatient and definitely ready to move on with my life.

The book is divided into three sections — work, love and the brain and the body — and offered great advice and insight for people my age. I could make direct connections to the stories in each chapter to either my own life or to my close friends. Additionally, unlike a lot of other similar books I have read in the past, I appreciate Jay’s approach in sharing her clients’ stories and scientific research, encouraging the reader to consider the facts at hand and similar situations instead of telling them step-by-step what to do.  This approach is extremely refreshing and it requires the reader to make some serious considerations about their own life and circumstances, instead of giving them a map that can be difficult (or impossible) to follow.

I recently finished the book and have since preached to my friends that they all need to read it. I definitely see this as a book I can (and probably should) re-read over the next ten years. Basically, if you are in your twenties and have some downtime, I highly recommend the book.

Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice I picked up on while reading:

  • Identity capital is making investments in ourselves and building ourselves over time.
  • “The only way to figure out what to do is to do – something” (pg. 15)
  • Take advantage of weak ties.
  • In the 21st century, careers and lives don’t roll off an assembly line. We have to put together the pieces ourselves.
  • Now is the time to start picking your family.
  • Cohabitation is not a “test” and a significant commitment should be considered first. Don’t “lock-in”.
  • “Twentysomethings who don’t feel anxious and incompetent at work are usually overconfident and underemployed.” (pg. 147)
  • You are deciding your life right now.


  1. […] my way to level 100 in Candy Crush (that’s an accomplishment, right?) + doing a bit of reading + hanging out with toddlers + sending my brother off to college (can we trade please?) + waiting for […]

  2. […] reading my blog post about “The Defining Decade“, I was contacted to write a guest post for 20somethings in 2013. The blog profiles young […]

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