Book Review – The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, PhD

Hi Friends,

Happy 1st of the month to you all! Just 3 more months until we wrap up 2017 and say hello to 2018. Isn’t that crazy?! Where did the year fly by? It felt like it was just yesterday we were all ringing in the new year. Today marks a new beginning for many. For students, they are are back in school and for the rest of us working professionals, well I guess its just another day to cross off on our calendars.

This past month I enjoyed reading The Defining Decade which was recommended to me by my cousin, Ayesha. Tailored for an audience consisting of millennials, this book made me really think about my twenties and how I wanted to make the most of them. Our twenties are an exciting and stressful time. We enter this arena called the “adult world,” where everybody seems to have their lives figured out and here we are hopelessly looking for ways to blend in. Reading a book like the defining decade was particularly useful in helping me create a vision for my twenties.

Broken off into bite-size sections, the prose is easy to follow, and the overall organization of the chapters is helpful to readers who wish to re-visit a specific topic. The author of the book, Meg Jay, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development. Although she is a scholar by profession, the information she presents in this book is easily applicable and profound. Not once did I feel that I couldn’t relate to the points she was making. Jay wrote this book for twenty-somethings like myself and effectively writes in a style that would resonate with us.

So friends, this month I’m reviewing: The Defining Decade – Why your twenties matter-and how to make the most of them now. 

“Identity capital is our collection of personal assets. It is the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time… Identity capital is what we bring to the adult marketplace… identities and careers are made not out of college majors and GPAs but out of a couple of door-opening pieces of identity capital.”

The quote I included above is from the very first chapter of the defining decade. These few lines resonated with me personally in the fact that during our twenties we rely so heavily on building social capital that we forget to establish an identity capital. Our identity capital is what makes us stand out in the workforce and shows others (potential employers and colleagues) the value we create and the resources we bring to any situation.

What’s particularly genius about Jay is her style of writing; she references specific client sessions and re-creates their stories to draw relevance to the section information. Through a method of detailed story-telling and scenario schemes, Jay intertwines her main points without deviating from audience values. Jay understands that her twenty-something audience won’t be keen on reading clinical jargon and theory-based conclusions. While reading, not once did I feel like I couldn’t absorb the knowledge Jay was imparting on me or that I wasn’t included in the audience pool of this book. On the contrary this book enlightened me, motivated me and galvanized me into adopting a “growth mindset.”

“I felt a lot of internal pressure to figure it out, but all the thinking I did was debilitating and unproductive. The one thing I have learned is that you can’t think your way through life. The only way to figure out what to do is to do—something.”

If you are a twenty-something reading this quote above I’m sure you can relate to it. All throughout our education we struggle with two types of pressure: internal & external. Internal pressure is our drive, ambition and thirst to accomplish great feats in life. External pressure is society, our educational institutions, parents and people in general constantly reminding us to figure things out. Whoa! Hold on a second. Can I catch my breath at least? Millennials of the 21st century have a larger burden to shoulder than those that came before us. We deal with pressure on a regular, but the irony behind the scheme is that nobody tells us how to navigate these uncharted waters. During times like these we learn to rely on our network and “weak ties.”

“Weak ties promote, and sometimes even force, thoughtful growth and change… as we look for jobs or relationships or opportunities of any kind, it is the people we know the least well who will be the most transformative.”

Less than two-hundred pages but over-flowing with wisdom, The Defining Decade is a book that is a must-read for any twenty-something. If you’re in a mental rut and can’t find a solution or are in need of inspiration, this book is for you. Every client case study will help you realize more about yourself as a millennial and assist you in making those dreadful decisions about the future.

From personal experience I can tell you that this book invited me to adopt a growth mindset when it comes to how I see life and my future. I strongly believe that our failures serve as our greatest learning opportunities. Isn’t that a shocker?! From breaking fixed mindsets such as avoiding failure and striving for success at any cost, I’ve grown as an individual who no longer is afraid to make mistakes. I face obstacles head-on and get excited about how they are going to test my  character and ultimately change me. I hope by reading this book you all have the courage to do the same.

“Suddenly, life opens up and the syllabi are gone. There are days and weeks and months and years, but no clear way to know when or why any one thing should happen. It can be a disorienting, cavelike existence. As one twenty something astutely put it, “The twenty something years are a whole new way of thinking about time. There’s this big chunk of time and a whole bunch of stuff needs to happen somehow.”

The Defining Decade is not a book that has all the answers you’re looking for. It isn’t a step-by-step guide either that will show you how to make the most of your twenty something years. However, this is a book that will encourage you to pave your own path and help you walk through your journey with courage and confidence.

Friends, I truly hope that this new month brings with it new opportunities, new lessons, new energy and blessings for you all. If you decide to pick up this book, leave me a comment below telling me your favorite part. I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn from your feedback.

Talk to you all on the next one…

With gratitude,

Ashna

XOXO