I have been doing a lot of research on the life decade: the 20s, lately because at times I feel lost and I know my peers feel the same way. I resolved to bring myself out of the dark, into the light by educating myself about what this time really means and what I am really supposed to be focusing on.
I just finished the book, The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter and how to make the most of them now by Meg Jay, PhD in three days. It was fascinating. The funny thing about this book is that a lot of what this clinical psychologist had to say about working with young adults throughout her career, sounded frighteningly similar what my parents say to me when I talk to them about where I am in life. I just never listened to them because….they are my parents.
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Obviously since I read this book in three days, I highly recommend it to all my peers. The book covers work, love, and what happens to your body and brain biologically during your twenties.
The book starts with work because that is what you build your entire life upon. Here is my synopsis:
There is a misconception that your twenties are supposed to be wild, free, and FUN. The concept of “anything” can be limitless and exciting, while the concept of a “career” sounds limiting and boring. Your 20s CAN be fun. But time does not stand still for us to have fun—we still need to be intentional about our lives. Claiming your focus and your career is not the end. It is the beginning.
Your 20s are for developing what Jay calls “Identity Capital”—the things that you do long enough or well enough that become a part of you. It is how you build yourself over time.
It takes 10,000 hours to develop expertise. That’s 5 years of full time work. If you want to have kids and a nice life in your 30s, you better get to work at 25.
Women of this day and age are allowed and encouraged to pursue anything they want. It is wonderful modern development that we should thank our grandmothers for every single day. At the same time, couples now have children a lot later than they used to because the times have changed—but our biology has not changed. Fertility declines significantly after age 30, and fertility treatments are REALLY expensive! Try upwards of $25k. Wouldn’t you rather spend that money on a tropical vaycay…or more likely, put it away for the old college fund?
Not only does a woman’s fertility decline after age 30, but studies have shown that older sperm create developmental problems in babies and children like autism and schizophrenia among other things. So, a man can’t simply get out of the fertility debacle by procreating with someone who’s 10 years younger than him.
During the time-warp of your 20s, it may seem like you have all the time in the world—you’re young! You can do anything! Pursue your passion! Live in the moment! These are all optimistic myths that are very damaging and quite misleading. I think it’s really important that people in their 20s have a more realistic view of the future—of their lives. I feel mislead by our society, and it’s important to get the facts.
What I learned from this book is:
1. Get to work
2. Set some goals
3. Get a grip on time
4. Be intentional; there are no guarantees.
5. Make your own certainty and build your own life.
I hope this helps you. It really helped me.