Resource of the Month–May, 2013

The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter—and how to make the most of them now by Meg Jay, PhD.

“Thirty is the new twenty.”

“You can do anything you want!”

“You’ve got plenty of time to get serious later!”

What other utterly unhelpful things are we saying to people in their 20’s? Meg Jay, in her important new book, reframes the 20’s as absolutely foundational and important for 20-somethings and challenges the notion of prolonged adolescence as the operating norm.

Half of my clients are in their 20’s and I see certain themes and realities in my work with them; underemployment, dating down, prolonged unhelpful romances, lostness, directionlessness, disappointment, and losing focus on larger goals. I find that the ideas in this book are exactly what many of my clients need. They, along with we older ones in our society, have been convinced somehow that waiting until the 30’s to start things like marriage, having children, and developing one’s career is a good idea. Dr. Jay tackles this myth with some surprising ideas.

  • “80% of life’s most significant events take place by age 35, as 30somethings and beyond we largely either continue with, or correct for, the moves we made during our 20something years.” (p.xii)
  • “The 20something years are real time and ought to be lived that way.” (p.xvii)
  • “You can’t pull some great career our of a hat in your 30’s, you have to start in your 20’s.” (p.58)
  • The best time to start preparing for marriage is before you are married.

Many late-20 and 30somethings wind up wishing that they had been more intentional during their 20’s. And this book explains what that can look like in real life. She takes the avoidance of not making decisions head on and she does it with real sensitivity to the economic and trending realities of this day and age. She gives good language to the challenges that I see in my office and in the larger community.

I’m suggesting that every person in his or her 20’s listen to Meg Jay’s TED Talk and read this book and grapple with the ideas it presents. The 20’s aren’t a time to postpone life, it is a decade meant to be lived meaningfully and with the rest of life in mind!

To purchase the book, click here.

4 comments


  • KF

    So, does that mean that those of us past our 20s might as well give up? 😉

    I don’t intend to. I went back to school for a PhD in my 30s, had my first child at 39, and I don’t feel that these were mistakes in timing. Not saying that everyone should wait, particularly not if they are procrastinating, but I think there is hope for us old fogies to make a difference, too. 🙂

    May 16, 2013
  • Janice

    You realize that I made big changes in my later life too! That isn’t the point of Dr. Jay’s book. Rather, she is addressing the attitude’s she’s seeing among 20somethings and that our society can strengthen that their lives haven’t really begun….this idea of prolonged adolescence is not really serving this generation’s young people in the way we/they think it is! Lots of people do lots of incredible things and changes later in life, and this generation will too. But way too many people are getting to age 30 with far too many regrets!

    May 16, 2013
  • Danny

    Fascinating and compelling. Gives me more fuel to head back to the college campus and see future leaders transformed and developed.

    May 16, 2013
  • Troy T.

    I listened to her Ted talk and I think she is on to something. When people say “you have plenty of time” what they should mean is that you have plenty of time to try things in your 20’s; to fail or succeed; to try and to do and to learn. This doesn’t mean dropping out relationally or professionally for five years. Taking 6 months or perhaps a year may be a good thing, but taking a 5 years “off” seems unhelpful to one’s future.

    May 16, 2013

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