Meg Jay “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter And How to Make the Most of Them Now”

“Age of twenty to thirty years is a critical period of growing-up. In this period of time it’s the easiest way to lay the foundations of the life we want to live. Whatever we do the third decade is a turning point, a period of important reorganization of our lives and the events taking place at this time, have a disproportionately large impact on our adult life.” 

Statistics say that the period from 20 to 30 years is defining decade in our lives. Almost 80% of fateful decisions we take by 35 years. In this period our first 10 years of career happens, which allow us to provide our financial situation and define the guidelines for further life. Up to 30 years more than half of the people get married and have children. Anyway, the major changes of our identity take place in this period. And that is why many psychologists, sociologists and other scientists are interested in this period.

Doctor of clinical psychology Meg Jay is one of them. She examined the psychology features of young people in age of 20 to 30 years, and based on her own research and practice as a psychologist, she wrote the book “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now”. In this book author identified 3 key areas of our life, in formation of which we should put as much effort as we can exactly in abovementioned period: there are “work”, “love”, “mind and body”.

Develop your “identity capital”

 “We are born not all at once, but by bits” – Mary Antin, writer

We all have “identity capital”. “It’s our collection of personal assets; it’s the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time. These are the investment we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are”.

Our “identity capital” includes not only our education, our knowledge and skills, but also our personal qualities – character, emotions, manners and more. This is what creates our consciousness and our vision of the world. To stay mobile and flexible, we have not only accumulate this capital, but use it – and not occasionally, but constantly. Period from 20 to 30 years is the best for realization of our ambitions and plans, this is the best time to create ourselves. So let’s act!

Generate ties

A vital part of our life is the relationships with other people. Every day we meet new people and build so-called “ties” with them. According to the American sociologist Mark Granovetter “not all relationships are equal, some ties are weak, others – strong, and this force increases as you gain experience.” Strong ties we’re having with family members and close friends. Weak ties are with people with whom we are familiar, but not close enough. It can be our neighbors, our colleagues, former teachers, and many others people we face in life. And according to sociologist Rose Coser, “although strong ties provide us support and understanding, but hinder our development, while weak ties offer us the access to something new and help us to grow.”

Therefore, be sociable, don’t be afraid to meet and communicate with new people, because they can significantly affect your life!

Realize your desires and dreams

“Unconsciously known – this is what we know about ourselves, but for some reason we forget it.” These are the dreams and desires that we have, but did not implement, for fear that we will fail, or afraid of how the surrounding people will react to it. That is why we are at some crossroads, when we choose what to do and how to proceed it.

Therefore, before you making life plans, it is worth to mention what dreams and desires we have and what we want to achieve. After realizing our dreams and desires, we will more clearly understand what will make us happy and in what direction we must work harder. It is much nicer to focus on reaching your dreams than to realize goals imposed by society.

Be better

“If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, and that is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.” – Charles de Montesquieu

We often compare ourselves with the other people and try to surpass them at least in something. It certainly pleases our self-esteem, show us that we’re great, but when we do not succeed, we are disappointed and begin to jealousy. And jealousy will not bring anything good. Your friend is in good shape, do you want be like him/she? Then start to exercise and become slimmer, take care of your health. Does your friend have a successful career? Assess your prospects for career development and their feasibility, and work on their achievement. Change your jealousy to motivation and work on yourself. Try to be better today than you were yesterday, and be better tomorrow than you are today.

Find your soul mate

 “Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.” ― Anthony Brandt

Marriage is an important area of our lives, like as our career. And we should work about it too. As the journalist of The New York Times, David Brooks said: “Our happiness is more dependent on who we marry, not on what university graduates.”  If we can plan our study or career, choose the best options for them, the choice of our partner in love is a much deeper concept.

Marriage is one of the most important stages in our lives because many things depend on it. To find “your person” with whom it will be interesting and comfortable not only for “flower and chocolate” period, but throughout life, is not as easy as to go to the supermarket and choose spaghetti. You should treat seriously this choice and consider that in addition to physical attractiveness, you should feel a spiritual attraction to this person, desire to be with he/she, and to share with him\her joy and disagreements. Maybe you’ll find your soul mate as the “love at first sight,” and perhaps you will have several tries to build a relationship before you realize what love and responsibility mean to you.

Of course, a clear course “how to find your soul mate, marry him/her and start a family” is not in this book, because the relationship is an area of our life that defies systematization and optimization. But the book gives you some information that will allow you to understand what you want from your relationships and what family life ideals are closer to you.

And do not forget “your relationship with your soul mate should bring you joy, not only here and now, but in the future too.”

Develop your brain

“The more you use your brain, the more brain you will have to use.” – George A. Dorsey, an anthropologist.

The specialists of the theory of evolution say that in the period from 20 to 30 years our brain is undergoing another critical period of development, which means that neural connections in the brain are formed as fast as in our early childhood. Accordingly, at this time our brain is characterized by high activity, so we can easily assimilate new knowledge, study foreign languages, gain professional experience.

In addition, “the work that we do in the twenty plus years, teaches us to control our emotions and overcome the difficulties of social interaction that make up our adulthood. Jobs and training at this time help us to learn new and more complex skills, gain own experience. Social ties, formed in this period, prepare us for future relations and marriage. The plans we are building after 20 years, help us to think in years and decades ahead. ”

So, the period from 20 to 30 years is the most favorable not only for the development of existing knowledge and skills but also for learning the new ones; this is the best period of intellectual development.

 “In the age of twenty to thirty years our love, work and mind are connected together and we turn in those adults that we want to be after thirty.”

Be confident

During our youth, we often feel some anxiety or even fear. Especially, when we are failing. In such cases, we lose our hearts and stop on achieved. In such cases we must consider our failure as an opportunity for development and change, because confidence is not innate, but acquired with experience quality.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” – Dale Carnegie.

So do not be afraid, gather your spirit and begin to act!

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