Book Review: "The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter"

May 17, 2013
Year On TeamFuture of Work

Original post by Joao Eira

Did you know that 80% of the events that affect you and the people that influence you occur during your twenties? This is one of the statistics that Meg Jay presents in The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter – And How to Make the Most of Them Now.

Jay, a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development, draws upon extensive scientific research, as well as her clinical experience, to battle against the widespread belief in our culture that "our twenties are the new thirties." According to this view, Jay says, the twenties are now seen as "disposable years lubricated by disposable income," a time meant for wandering, soul-searching and having reckless fun.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In The Defining Decade, Jay asserts that the twenty-something years are the "defining years of adulthood," a critical period where choices, or the lack of thereof, can dramatically influence one's adult life.

Divided the book into three major sections, 'Work', 'Love, and 'The Brain and the Body', Jay weaves together anecdotes and research to demonstrate to readers that the twenties offer unmatched opportunities for growth. It's a time that you can take advantage of and make a lot out of it. Otherwise, you risk missing an important period of adult development.

"A colleague of mine likes to say that twentysomethings are like airplanes, planes just leaving New York City bound for somewhere west," Jay writes. "Right after takeoff, a slight change in course is the difference between landing in either Seattle or San Diego. But once a plane is nearly in San Diego, only a big detour will redirect it to the northwest."

Just knowing that your twenties are a "defining" period in your life, however, isn't enough. You have to act on that knowledge. Luckily, Jay offers much-needed practical advice on what people can do to take control of their twenties. She also points out common mistakes and gives advice on what to do to avoid them.

The Defining Decade is a book that will either enlighten or validate the opinions of all students. If you're currently in your twenties, you can start now and take advantage of the great opportunities that Jay describes. If you're not yet 20, you can use this book to start thinking about what it is you'll have to do to develop the life you want to have when you're in your twenties. Even if you're way past 20, you can pick up the tips from this book and apply them to your own life. Regardless of your age, this is a book that will motivate you to make use of your precious time.

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