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The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now Paperback – April 2, 2013
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"Any recent college grad mired in a quarter-life crisis or merely dazed by the freedom of post-collegiate existence should consider it required reading."―Slate.com, Staff Pick
"The professional and personal angst of directionless twentysomethings is given a voice and some sober counsel in this engaging guide. While Jay maintains that facing difficulties in one's 20s 'is a jarring--but efficient and often necessary--way to grow,' the author is sincere and sympathetic, making this well-researched mix of generational sociology, psychotherapy, career counseling, and relationship advice a practical treatise for a much-maligned demographic."―Publishers Weekly
"A clinical psychologist issues a four-alarm call for the 50 million 20-somethings in America.... A cogent argument for growing up and a handy guidebook on how to get there."―Kirkus Reviews
"Excellently written, this book is sensitive to the emotional life of twentysomethings."―Library Journal
"THE DEFINING DECADE [is] just the wake up call many twentysomethings need."―The Coffin Factory
"I strongly recommend THE DEFINING DECADE for anyone in their 20s trying to figure out their life's direction. You'll learn how to search productively, how to avoid being indulgent, and how to turn good opportunities into great ones."―Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life?, co-author of Nurtureshock
"Before reading THE DEFINING DECADE I didn't know enough about the importance of our twenties to be concerned that I could mess it all up. Now that I do, I could worry myself into paralysis, or, as Meg Jay suggests, grab life by the helm--even if I still have no idea in hell where I'm going. Without a doubt, The Defining Decade will leave you eager to embark on what I now see can be the most exciting odyssey of one's life."―Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, editor of My Little Red Book
"THE DEFINING DECADE is the book twentysomethings have been waiting for. It will not tell you what you should do with your life, but it will inspire, motivate, and educate you to figure it out."―Rachel Simmons, author of The Good Girl
"THE DEFINING DECADE is eye-opening, important, and a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it."―Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus
About the Author
- Paperback : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0446561754
- ISBN-13 : 978-0446561754
- Item Weight : 8.8 ounces
- Product Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.85 x 8.2 inches
- Publisher : Twelve; Reprint Edition (April 2, 2013)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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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.
As a 28 year old this book would have been even more helpful to me 5+ years ago, but alas, such is life. And perhaps as someone a bit older this book is helpful to me in other ways, as I can recognize a lot of things in hindsight. So yes, I think that anyone 17-32 can benefit from this to some degree or another. This book has provided a lot of perspective for me on some of the mistakes I probably could have avoided with love + work, but it's also helped to pin point those mistakes, learn from them, and use it as fuel to move forward in the best way possible. This isn't some spiritual "chicken soup for the soul" book - in fact Meg pushes pretty hard for young people to AVOID those sentiments and not get caught up in the emotional traps that a lot of young adults these days are vulnerable to (from TV, movies, their friends, own parents, etc.)
She wants twentysomethings to ask themselves the real tough questions about relationships, jobs, money, education: and then answer them honestly. It's actually all really practical, well thought out advice from a highly skilled therapist/professional in the field. You don't have to relate or even agree with EVERY thing she says, but nonetheless Meg provides perspective that everyone can identify with on some level. The writing is great, too; she does not talk down, come off as condescending, or dismiss anyones concerns: she really gets on the same level as young adults who are struggling.
Thank you for this book, Meg.
I've given away a case of these books, and every single person receiving it said it was exactly what they needed to guide them in making major decisions toward a better life. (Many of the twenty-somethings I gave the book to said they HATE to read... which doesn't apply when given the secrets to solving the overwhelming anxiety that comes to those stuck in their twenty's or the caregivers of those who are trapped there).
Top reviews from other countries
That said - I think the key word is counterbalance. Some of the messages might strike some young women as a bit idealistic. Yes, it's important to factor starting a family, if you want one, into your plans, but some people won't have that option for financial reasons or lack of partners who're ready to settle down.
If you're in your 20s I'd say this is a great book to read as a spur to thinking about what kind of life you want in your 30s and beyond (and yep, I'm obliged to say it'll come sooner than you think) as long as you don't let it stress you out or make you think you should have a grand ten-year-plan (unless you want one, in which case, go for it).
Feeling a bit lost and rubbish in your 20s is not unusual, and if anything this book will reassure you that you're not alone.