The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

( 35 )

Overview

Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood.

Drawing from a decade of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, THE DEFINING DECADE ...

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The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now

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Overview

Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are a second adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most defining decade of adulthood.

Drawing from a decade of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, THE DEFINING DECADE weaves the latest science of the twentysomething years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to make the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood-if we use the time wisely.

THE DEFINING DECADE is a smart, compassionate and constructive book about the years we cannot afford to miss.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

If you think that your twenties don't matter, you haven't been paying attention to your elders—or for that matter, with your slightly older peers. As her title notes, clinical psychologist Meg Jay believes that the twenties are indeed the defining decade, the time of transition that usually sets the course of our entire future. For more than a decade, Dr. Jay has been working with hundreds of twenty-something clients and students, sharing with them what scientists, social scientists, and other experts now know about this important stage of adult development. A great gift for graduates and soon-to-be grads. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

The Coffin Factory
"THE DEFINING DECADE [is] just the wake up call many twentysomethings need."
Po Bronson
"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."
Rachel Kauder Nalebuff
"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 Simmons
"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."
Wendy Mogel
"THE DEFINING DECADE is eye-opening, important, and a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it."
Nancy Chodorow
"Meg Jay brings a sharp intellect, expertise on the life cycle, and extensive clinical experience to this powerful book. Age and time, she argues, are not malleable, even if people live longer and our culture believes that everything is possible. Reading this book will benefit clinicians, cultural commentators, and twentysomethings themselves."
Timothy D. Wilson
"This fascinating, engaging book makes a convincing case that the twenties are the most transformative period of people's lives, and even better, shows readers how to get off the couch and live that decade well. It should be read by all young adults, their friends, their parents, their grandparents, their bosses, their siblings . . . really, by just about everyone!"
Kay Hymowitz
"Expecting to experience the joy of freedom and self-discovery, many young men and women find instead confusion, loneliness, and anomie. Jay is just the sort of guide that these twentysomethings and their parents need: sensitive, thoughtful, and wise."
Daphne de Marneffe
"THE DEFINING DECADE is a rare gem: a fresh, original contribution to the study of adult development that's also a pleasurable, almost effortless read."
Leslie C. Bell
"Blending the latest social science research with real life accounts of twentysomething clients and students, Jay provides valuable and compelling insights and direction for twentysomethings, their parents, and parents of future twentysomethings."
C. J. Pascoe
"THE DEFINING DECADE is a must read for the twentysomething who is looking to build a meaningful, fulfilling, and rich life. Dr. Jay clearly illustrates some of the biggest mistakes we can make in our twenties. But more important she gives advice about how to make decisions that will set twentysomethings up for success in the workplace and intimate relationships in their thirties and beyond."
W. Bradford Wilcox
"THE DEFINING DECADE does an excellent job of conveying the latest social science on twentysomething relationships and helping young adults to understand why these relationships can be so confusing and challenging...Young adults looking for insights about love, life, and marriage should turn to Dr. Meg Jay's engaging and insightful new book."
Avril Thorne
"Meg Jay masterfully blends cutting-edge research and life stories of psychotherapy clients to make a compelling case that this age period is crucial for launching love and work. You will learn a lot from this book and it will spur you to seize control of your future now."
J. Anderson Thomson Jr.
"Listen to me closely. If you know someone already in or entering the third decade of life, or their parents, or their therapist, you must give them this book. Meg Jay slams a cultural corrective on our desk. Pay attention. The twenties are the defining decade of human life where the foundation of every future is laid...No one should turn thirty without having read this book."
Staff Pick - Slate.com
"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."
New Yorker
"Meg Jay takes the specific complaints of twenty something life and puts them to diagnostic use."
C.J. Pascoe
"THE DEFINING DECADE is a must read for the twentysomething who is looking to build a meaningful, fulfilling, and rich life. Dr. Jay clearly illustrates some of the biggest mistakes we can make in our twenties. But more important she gives advice about how to make decisions that will set twentysomethings up for success in the workplace and intimate relationships in their thirties and beyond."
Staff Pick Slate.com
"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."
From the Publisher
"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

"Meg Jay takes the specific complaints of twenty something life and puts them to diagnostic use."—New Yorker

"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"Meg Jay brings a sharp intellect, expertise on the life cycle, and extensive clinical experience to this powerful book. Age and time, she argues, are not malleable, even if people live longer and our culture believes that everything is possible. Reading this book will benefit clinicians, cultural commentators, and twentysomethings themselves."—Nancy Chodorow, author of Individualizing Gender and Sexuality: Theory and Practice

"This fascinating, engaging book makes a convincing case that the twenties are the most transformative period of people's lives, and even better, shows readers how to get off the couch and live that decade well. It should be read by all young adults, their friends, their parents, their grandparents, their bosses, their siblings . . . really, by just about everyone!"—Timothy D. Wilson, author of Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change

"Expecting to experience the joy of freedom and self-discovery, many young men and women find instead confusion, loneliness, and anomie. Jay is just the sort of guide that these twentysomethings and their parents need: sensitive, thoughtful, and wise."—Kay Hymowitz, author of Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys

"THE DEFINING DECADE is a rare gem: a fresh, original contribution to the study of adult development that's also a pleasurable, almost effortless read."—Daphne de Marneffe, PhD, author of Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life

"Blending the latest social science research with real life accounts of twentysomething clients and students, Jay provides valuable and compelling insights and direction for twentysomethings, their parents, and parents of future twentysomethings."—Leslie C. Bell, PhD, author of Hard to Get: 20-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom.

"THE DEFINING DECADE is a must read for the twentysomething who is looking to build a meaningful, fulfilling, and rich life. Dr. Jay clearly illustrates some of the biggest mistakes we can make in our twenties. But more important she gives advice about how to make decisions that will set twentysomethings up for success in the workplace and intimate relationships in their thirties and beyond."—C. J. Pascoe, author of Dude, You're a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School

"THE DEFINING DECADE does an excellent job of conveying the latest social science on twentysomething relationships and helping young adults to understand why these relationships can be so confusing and challenging...Young adults looking for insights about love, life, and marriage should turn to Dr. Meg Jay's engaging and insightful new book."—W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia

"Meg Jay masterfully blends cutting-edge research and life stories of psychotherapy clients to make a compelling case that this age period is crucial for launching love and work. You will learn a lot from this book and it will spur you to seize control of your future now."—Avril Thorne, University of California, Santa Cruz

"Listen to me closely. If you know someone already in or entering the third decade of life, or their parents, or their therapist, you must give them this book. Meg Jay slams a cultural corrective on our desk. Pay attention. The twenties are the defining decade of human life where the foundation of every future is laid...No one should turn thirty without having read this book."—J. Anderson Thomson Jr., MD; staff psychiatrist, University of Virginia, department of Student Health; co-author, Facing Bipolar: The Young Adult's Guide to Facing Bipolar Disorder

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446561754
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/2/2013
  • Pages: 239
  • Sales rank: 13,963
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Meg Jay, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in adult development, and twentysomethings in particular. She is an assistant clinical professor at University of Virginia, and maintains a private practice in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dr. Jay earned a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in gender studies, from University of California, Berkeley.

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Table of Contents

Preface: The Defining Decade xi

Introduction: Real Time xiii

Work

Identity Capital 3

Weak Ties 17

The Unthought Known 32

My Life Should Look Better on Facebook 41

The Customized Life 55

Love

An Upmarket Conversation 69

Picking Your Family 81

The Cohabitation Effect 89

On Dating Down 100

Being in Like 112

The Brain And The Body

Forward Thinking 133

Calm Yourself 143

Outside In 156

Getting Along and Getting Ahead 165

Every Body 175

Do the Math 188

Epilogue: Will Things Work Out for Me? 199

Notes 203

Acknowledgments 237

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(25)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 24, 2012

    Dear Dr. Meg Jay, I keep writing rough drafts to try to convey

    Dear Dr. Meg Jay,

    I keep writing rough drafts to try to convey how important this book is to me at this moment in time in my life. I cannot express my thankfulness that someone gets it. I am 24 and always had the sense I was throwing my life away but everyone tells me "Don't worry it will all work out. You are only 24." Thank you for the cold water to the face. Oddly enough, being told that my decisions contradict a successful life, gives me a sense of happiness.

    I like most people assume once you graduate the best of your years are ahead, however, that is only true if you map it out. I was clueless and constantly borrowing my dads ego to solve my problems now its time to put my frontal lobe to work and figure out a game plan. Every single page directly applied to me and I now know I can make better decisions from here on out due to this very important piece of literature.

    I need to make my own happy ending and work my way backwards. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. I literally want to buy this book for all of my twentysomething friends. Do they not know they are just throwing away their lives and there is nothing fun or great about tearing tickets, pouring someone a glass of water, folding clothes, not taking relationships seriously, and so forth?

    I never had a therapist but this book is all the therapy I need. I literally felt like you were talking to me directly, which in itself, was an awesome experience. Thank you so much for this book. Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Ryan

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2012

    I think this book is very helpful for the soon-to-be twenty, or

    I think this book is very helpful for the soon-to-be twenty, or in all ready. It talks about a variety of things one can relate to nowadays and at times makes you think about if you're doing things right. Talks about happiness and if you are doing it for yourself or others, Jobs and how its viewed by most or some twentysomethings and a settlement rather than a chance to peruse a successful life, not the least, love. I'm 19 and even though my brother said it was silly for me to read this, I still did, and I liked it a lot. I've recommended it to my friends, and I recommend it to you.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    The people who need to read this the most are people in the arts

    The people who need to read this the most are people in the arts and humanities. We thrive in a culture of adolescence, and it is the reason so many of us end up selling novelties instead of starring in shows. If you want to sell novelties, great! That is an important part of our culture and economy. However, don't spend 200,000 dollars on a liberal or performing arts degree to then not use it.

    I would also highlight this books poignancy and wonderful approach of demonstrating how the people in this book are real, and have the concerns you do!

    Soon to graduate from college, I am far more prepared after reading this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Interesting, Fast Read

    I can't decide if this book inspires me or terrifies me, but I am glad I read it

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2012

    For my 20th birthday I was given this book from one of my family

    For my 20th birthday I was given this book from one of my family members, and at first I thought it was going to be informational and inspiring. Then I saw her talk about her book on yahoo news which intrigued me even more. But beyond the cover is a series of therapy sessions (like you're sitting in on one with her and the client). I know that this is Jay's profession, but I wish she took the same morals and goals then directed towards her audience (buyers). I gave her 3 stars because she has valuable information, but in my opinion I don't like the feel of listening to other peoples sessions.

    I think if you can get past that one bit, this would be a very enjoyable book. I really wanted to like it, but I just couldn't.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 18, 2012

    This is a five star book: a must read for ages 18-35. As a twent

    This is a five star book: a must read for ages 18-35. As a twenty-something, closer to 30, reading this book was like waking up from a coma. First you feel empowered, and then you need to figure out what it is you want, then plan how to attain it. Granted life is full of surprises and we all face tragedies but we need to remember we all deserve the chance to try to accomplish our personal and professional goals.
    Dr. Meg Jay writes about her clients, their experiences, and her own opinions with myth-busting honesty and genuine care. She is the kind of therapist everyone should go to because she's been there/done that and realized how important our twenties are as a foundation for the rest of our lives. We think we have time to be free and find ourselves without direction, that it's okay to put our major decisions on hold: BUT IT"S NOT! We have to consider our careers and future families now so that we have attained them before it is too late: see her chapter on fertility. While today's economy has most of us (age 20s, 30s, 40s) in a depressed crisis, money is not the only issue that defines us as adults. We need enrichment, friendships, and romantic relationships that support us and last.
    A few points that stuck out for me were: (1) this feeling of being stranded in the ocean, unsure which direction to swim towards, hoping we don't make the wrong decision and (2) that we can choose our families.
    This book makes you think. This book makes you feel. This book can change your self-perception. This book might get you (back) on track.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2014

    Great book.

    I bought this book for my eighteen year old son and he is really enjoying it. I read the first couple of chapters and it made good sense. If you would like to help your adult children, who might be lacking in what direction to focus on (such as college major). This is a great book to make them realize now is the time to figure it out. Don't waste your twenties, they are gone before you know it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 31, 2013

    Very, very good book. I just turned 20 this year, and this is ex

    Very, very good book. I just turned 20 this year, and this is exactly what I needed. I read over half of the book in one sitting. Very helpful and motivating!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2013

    I am buying this for every twentysomething I know.  And every pa

    I am buying this for every twentysomething I know.  And every parent of a twentysomething. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 16, 2013

    Great book! I am halfway done with it. I thought this books woul

    Great book! I am halfway done with it. I thought this books would do me no good due to it being mainly about the 20's and I am so close to falling into the 30's. It is however, a very good and inspiring book. I thought that before reading this book that I had done my life backwards. Meaning no partying and jumping straight into marriage, a home, and kids. But this book really made me feel a whole lot better about my decisions. It is a must read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Put many things in perspective...

    Being that I just finished up college/graduate school and I'm now working at my first official "big girl" job this book helps put a lot of things in perspective! No one every teaches you in school how to deal with life and your first few moments out in the real world can be pretty scary. Great advice and a quick read, I couldn't put it down and I can't wait to re-read this book just for the sake of highlighting some of the great key points!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2012

    Such A Wake Up Call

    This book is amazing. I highly recommend this book for teenagers and anyone in their twenties. This book is very well written and the author does an excellent job of conveying a sense of urgency about your twenties and how not to waste them. This book has changed my life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    Great for a recent college grad

    I have just graduated college myself and have found the idea of starting my life to be starttling and scary. This book has given me great insight at the age of 22. I feel more confident in where i am at this point in life and know i have to get out of my procrastination ways. Strongly reccomend this to anyone in their twenties who isnt in their dream job just yet.

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  • Posted May 23, 2012

    Must Read for Teens and Twenty-somethings and their Parents and Advisors.

    All of the decades build on each other. Although life can have ups and downs, fits and starts, it is important to understand an overall direction and forward movement. This easy read challenges thoughts of taking years to goof off. Instead it offers a practical apprach to moving on with one's life. An excellent resource.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012

    Worth reading.

    As the parent of three 20 somethings, I really appreciate the information gained from reading this book. I recommend it to parents of children in their late teens - always best to prepare ahead!

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  • Posted May 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Very Insightful!

    Very interested in this sort of stuff...

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 8, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted February 7, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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