the defining decade

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

author: Meg Jay

genre: Non-fiction, psychology, twentysomethings

suggested by: Stephanie R.

date read: March 1st – March 2nd

review:  4.5 of 5 stars

summary: Dr. Meg Jya is a psychologist who specializes in adult development, with emphasis on the twentysomething years.  She shares stories of her clients and focuses on work, love, and brain development, and how the twenties are transformative and important years for these areas of life.  While the current cultural trends are to do things later in life (get a career, get married, start a family), she encourages people in their twenties to be intentional, not just let them be the throw away years, while expecting life to settle down and make sense in the thirties.

personal thoughts: I loved her style of writing.  I was invested in the stories she shared and interested by what she had to say about the twentysomething years.  As someone who is still in the midst (though in the second half), I appreciated the encouragement and insight she had about my life now.  I feel like my life is pretty “together,” I’m married, have a degree, and a full time job.  I think my favorite section was the one about love, in particular the last section about compatibility and personalities in a romantic relationship.  There are things I already know about myself that have given me pause in my relationship with Jason.  But I feel like she concretely showed me where I can make changes to improve our relationship.  It was a little daunting at first, but ultimately I’m encouraged to focus on changing myself for the better.  It is a pretty audience specific book, since it obviously emphasizes the twentysomething years.  However, if you know anyone who’s living there now, or have children who are going to be there soon, I would encourage you to read this, and maybe pass it on to them.

favorite quotes:
“while most therapists would agree with Socrates that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” a lesser-known quote by American psychologist Sheldon Kopp might be more important here: “The unlived like if not worth examining.'” p. xv

“We are led to believe the twentysomething years don’t matter, yet, with the glamorization of and near obsession with the twenties, there is little to remind us that anything else ever will.” p. xix

“doing something later is not automatically the same as doing something better.” p. xxiv

“Twentysomethings . . .were raised on abstract commands – “Follow your dreams!”  “Reach for the stars!” – but they often don’t know much about how to get these things done.  They don’t know how to get what they want or, sometimes, even what they want.” p. 34

“The more terrifying uncertainty is wanting something but not knowing how to get it.  It is working toward something even though there is no sure thing.” p. 39

“With age comes what is known as a positivity effect.  We become more interested in positive information, and our brains react less strongly to what negative information we do encounter.” p. 150

“Goals have been called the building blocks of adult personality, and it is worth considering that who you will be in your thirties and beyond is being built out of the goals you are setting for yourself today.” p. 171


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