The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

by: Meg Jay (0)

The Defining Decade has changed the way millions of twentysomethings think about their twenties—and themselves. Revised and reissued for a new generation, let it change how you think about you and yours.

Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are an extended adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. In The Defining Decade, Meg Jay argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized the most transformative time of our lives.

Drawing from more than two decades of work with thousands of clients and students, Jay weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to take the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, identity and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood—if we use the time well.

Also included in this updated edition: 

  • Up-to-date research on work, love, the brain, friendship, technology, and fertility
  • What a decade of device use has taught us about looking at friends—and looking for love—online
  • 29 conversations to have with your partner—or to keep in mind as you search for one
  • A social experiment in which "digital natives" go without their phones
  • A Reader's Guide for book clubs, classrooms, or further self-reflection

The Reviews

I'm not usually one to review books on here (I think plenty of others do, and do a great job!) but as I came to this page to purchase yet another copy of this book to gift a friend, I found myself browsing through some of the reviews and had to respond to some of the criticisms. In essence, I think some of the reviewers here have missed the point entirely.(One criticism that I do agree with is that the book is heavily focused on the American 20-something experience, yet I do not fault Jay for this--she is an American psychologist, has likely treated predominantly American clients, and is writing for a largely American audience. The "early life crisis" of the 20-something that can't decide on a career is a far cry from the issues faced by their peers in impoverished or warring nations, or even those that are similarly developed but culturally distinct. That said, just as I, a 20-something American woman, wouldn't pick up a self-help book written for senior men, I wouldn't pick one up, for example, for those coming of age in China. It's not that one's better or worse than the other, it's just that only one applies to me. I don't think you can get angry about a book addressing the 20-something experience in America when it's written by an American author who makes no assertion that she's writing for a universal audience).1) "This book didn't apply to me because I'm in my mid/late 20s and/or have my life together already and/or I already knew all the advice given."On one hand, I want to congratulate you, but on another, I think you might have fallen into the millenial trap of being narcissistic and blindly self-assured. Of course many people do graduate college, find a job in a related field, and transition into adulthood without issue. But I imagine that for every person following this path that winds up successful and content with their lives, there are a dozen that end up burnt out and disillusioned by 35, and are forced to reevaluate their decisions and start over. It's not just about choosing a career either--the book proposes mindful selection of friends, partners, and life experiences. With the top speed of modern life, it's easy to continue going through the motions without stopping to think about what you're doing. Even if you feel you're headed in the right direction, what is the value lost by taking the time to consider what you really want? (Also, if you really "have it all together" already, why did you read this book in the first place?!)2) "It places too much emphasis on finding a partner/having children/living the traditional "American dream."There seems to be a failure of taking the information presented and interpreting the message as it applies to your own life here. The "hook up" culture of 20-somethings and the prevalence of domestic abuse are real issues in the US right now. Fertility is also a hot topic, with popular media generating this idea that ANY woman can get pregnant with a little work and hormone injections well into their 40s. Once again, this is about mindfulness, not following a prescribed path. Not interested in settling down with one partner just yet? Fine! But does that mean you want to jump from meaningless hook up to meaningless hook up without learning about yourself and developing an idea of how you'd like your adult relationships to be? Sure you're not ready for kids now, but is it something you see for yourself eventually? How important is it to you? The answer may be not very, and that's okay! The point is to actually THINK about it and be intentional in the choices you make.3) "This is just one person's opinion, she does nothing to back it up."Honestly, this is just ludicrous. Jay integrates *peer reviewed literature* with her own clinical experiences and makes reasonable inferences about patterns in 20-something behavior based on them. You can disagree with the message, but saying that it's being pulled from thin air is just ignorant.4) "This book was depressing because it made me feel badly about where I am in my life by my mid/late 20s or 30s."I understand that some of the information presented can be anxiety-provoking and can make you question your life choices--that's the point! Read the case studies of 20-somethings who were depressed and anxious in their dead end jobs and relationships, they all found a pathway to a more fulfilling life. Even if past the "sweet spot" of the early/mid 20s, this book can help you to understand the reality of beginning a career or a family later in life. If you're unhappy with your life and expect a pat on the head and a participation trophy, ("it gets better!") this book is not going to help you. If you're lost, unhappy, unfulfilled, or depressed about the state of your life, this book can help you to see these problems as approachable, and models the shift in thinking that will help you to design the life you want for yourself. But 250ish pages written by a psychologist who you haven't met will NEVER be a catch-all solution.I think this is an important book that those in their late teens or twenties would do well to read, and that older demographics could use to better understand how to support the growth of the 20-somethings in their lives. As with ANY literature, it should be read with a critical eye and with careful consideration of your own experiences, goals, and personal beliefs. The Defining Decade is not written to be a panacea for every struggling 20-something. It does go against the rhetoric 20-somethings are hearing and provide honest, objective examples of how and why taking action in early adulthood is important.

I purchased the paperback edition for my daughter, then immediately purchased the audiobook for myself.The primary purpose of this book is to confront the unhelpful assumption that the twenties are merely a time of extended adolescence during which young people should goof off and try to find themselves. The author demonstrates time and again that twenty somethings with focus and jobs and goals are happier and less adrift than those who are attempting to have the time of their lives. Furthermore, the twenties are a time to lay valuable foundations for the rest of your life, whether that be in terms of education and starter jobs or in terms of dating individuals you might have a future with.The book is divided into three sections: Work. Love. The Brain and the Body. Without summarizing her actual book, let me point out some of the author's particular gems (from my perspective).WORK. There is a difference between jobs that build "capital" and jobs that can be lumped into the category "The Starbucks Years". Your best opportunities are found among your "weak ties", not among your Urban Tribe of like-minded thinkers. Don't buy into the myth that everyone else's life is better just because of their carefully-managed Facebook profiles.LOVE. Don't like the family you were born into? Marriage is a good opportunity to find another family. People who marry young have a higher rate of divorce, but that ends at 25. Couples who live together before marriage are more likely to divorce - unless they were already engaged before moving in together; this occurs because it's easy to slide from dating to sleeping over to living together - and from there to getting engaged to the person you were already living with (even though you wouldn't have considered marrying this "fun" partner before moving in together because you didn't consider them marriage material).THE BRAIN AND THE BODY. Of course you feel incompetent at work! That's because you are incompetent at work. You're just getting started! Mastery = 10,000 hours on task. Don't forget reproduction. You don't have as long as you think. Worse, if you have your first child at age 40 and they have their first child at age 40, that leads to 80-year-old grandparents. Doctors are seeing an epidemic of adults telling them to keep them alive for at least 20 more years so they can finish raising their children. But the most poignant of all was a tale from a man who had delayed marriage and children so he could have those good times during his twenties that everyone was encouraging him to have - only to realize at 40 that he would give anything to have had 5 extra years with his son instead of 5 years wasted on trivialities.Overall, a very good read.The audiobook was read by the author with her slight Southern twang. It was an enjoyable listen of around 5 hours.

I totally recommend for anyone coming up in age. This book is definitely a game changer. It have You thinking about things and helps you in ways that you didn’t even know. I really recommend this book- from a 22 years old

This book read me for filth. That’s it. That’s the review. Buy it.

This book is as the title describes. Perfect for young adults, those in their 20s and early 30s.

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
⭐ 4.7 💛 6021
kindle: $11.99
paperback: $6.83
hardcover: $18.01
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