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

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The Defining Decade has changed the way millions of twentysomethings think about their twenties—and themselves. Revised and reissued for a new generation, let it change how you think about you and yours.Our "thirty-is-the-new-twenty" culture tells us the twentysomething years don't matter. Some say they are an extended adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. In The Defining Decade, Meg Jay argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized the most transformative time of our lives.Drawing from more than two decades of work with thousands of clients and students, Jay 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 take the most of your twenties, and shows us how work, relationships, personality, identity and even the brain can change more during this decade than at any other time in adulthood—if we use the time well.. Also included in this updated edition: Up-to-date research on work, love, the brain, friendship, technology, and fertilityWhat a decade of device use has taught us about looking at friends—and looking for love—online29 conversations to have with your partner—or to keep in mind as you search for oneA social experiment in which "digital natives" go without their phonesA Reader's Guide for book clubs, classrooms, or further self-reflection

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9764 Reviews
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4out of 5

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Variants: Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover, Paperback, Audio CD

Weight: 9.6 ounces

variant: Paperback

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4out of 5

9764 reviews

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Amazon's Top Reviews

December 03, 2023
5out of 5
This is a MUST READ for anybody in their twenties or teens. This really shows you how the world has changed and set ideals on our youth. Great book 10/10
I'm not usually one to review books on here (I think plenty of others do, and do a great job!) but as I came to this page to purchase yet another copy of this book to gift a friend, I found myself browsing through some of the reviews and had to respond to some of the criticisms. In essence, I think some of the reviewers here have missed the point entirely. (One criticism that I do agree with is that the book is heavily focused on the American 20-something experience, yet I do not fault Jay for this--she is an American psychologist, has likely treated predominantly American clients, and is writing for a largely American audience. The "early life crisis" of the 20-something that can't decide on a career is a far cry from the issues faced by their peers in impoverished or warring nations, or even those that are similarly developed but culturally distinct. That said, just as I, a 20-something American woman, wouldn't pick up a self-help book written for senior men, I wouldn't pick one up, for example, for those coming of age in China. It's not that one's better or worse than the other, it's just that only one applies to me. I don't think you can get angry about a book addressing the 20-something experience in America when it's written by an American author who makes no assertion that she's writing for a universal audience). 1) "This book didn't apply to me because I'm in my mid/late 20s and/or have my life together already and/or I already knew all the advice given." On one hand, I want to congratulate you, but on another, I think you might have fallen into the millenial trap of being narcissistic and blindly self-assured. Of course many people do graduate college, find a job in a related field, and transition into adulthood without issue. But I imagine that for every person following this path that winds up successful and content with their lives, there are a dozen that end up burnt out and disillusioned by 35, and are forced to reevaluate their decisions and start over. It's not just about choosing a career either--the book proposes mindful selection of friends, partners, and life experiences. With the top speed of modern life, it's easy to continue going through the motions without stopping to think about what you're doing. Even if you feel you're headed in the right direction, what is the value lost by taking the time to consider what you really want? (Also, if you really "have it all together" already, why did you read this book in the first place?!) 2) "It places too much emphasis on finding a partner/having children/living the traditional "American dream." There seems to be a failure of taking the information presented and interpreting the message as it applies to your own life here. The "hook up" culture of 20-somethings and the prevalence of domestic abuse are real issues in the US right now. Fertility is also a hot topic, with popular media generating this idea that ANY woman can get pregnant with a little work and hormone injections well into their 40s. Once again, this is about mindfulness, not following a prescribed path. Not interested in settling down with one partner just yet? Fine! But does that mean you want to jump from meaningless hook up to meaningless hook up without learning about yourself and developing an idea of how you'd like your adult relationships to be? Sure you're not ready for kids now, but is it something you see for yourself eventually? How important is it to you? The answer may be not very, and that's okay! The point is to actually THINK about it and be intentional in the choices you make. 3) "This is just one person's opinion, she does nothing to back it up." Honestly, this is just ludicrous. Jay integrates *peer reviewed literature* with her own clinical experiences and makes reasonable inferences about patterns in 20-something behavior based on them. You can disagree with the message, but saying that it's being pulled from thin air is just ignorant. 4) "This book was depressing because it made me feel badly about where I am in my life by my mid/late 20s or 30s." I understand that some of the information presented can be anxiety-provoking and can make you question your life choices--that's the point! Read the case studies of 20-somethings who were depressed and anxious in their dead end jobs and relationships, they all found a pathway to a more fulfilling life. Even if past the "sweet spot" of the early/mid 20s, this book can help you to understand the reality of beginning a career or a family later in life. If you're unhappy with your life and expect a pat on the head and a participation trophy, ("it gets better!") this book is not going to help you. If you're lost, unhappy, unfulfilled, or depressed about the state of your life, this book can help you to see these problems as approachable, and models the shift in thinking that will help you to design the life you want for yourself. But 250ish pages written by a psychologist who you haven't met will NEVER be a catch-all solution. I think this is an important book that those in their late teens or twenties would do well to read, and that older demographics could use to better understand how to support the growth of the 20-somethings in their lives. As with ANY literature, it should be read with a critical eye and with careful consideration of your own experiences, goals, and personal beliefs. The Defining Decade is not written to be a panacea for every struggling 20-something. It does go against the rhetoric 20-somethings are hearing and provide honest, objective examples of how and why taking action in early adulthood is important.
I read Dr. Meg Jay's NY Times piece on co-habituation (...) which lead me to ordering her book. I received it yesterday and read it in one sitting. So, I think it's pretty good. As a twenty something, I would recommend this book to my friends and even those still in high school. Dr. Jay teaches lessons about how to ideally approach one's twenties and why it really matters. She interweaves research, stories, and counseling sessions with her patients to make a thought provoking but easy book to read. In many of those patients, I saw my friends or myself. There was the twenty something coffee barista still waiting for the right opportunity to come by. There was the beautiful and successful, girl chronically hooking up and never dating because she's still plagued with teenager, self-image problems. There was the bicycle shop guy wanting to be original and afraid of settling down. What they all have in common is this intense desire to know, "Am I going to make it? And what the hell should I be doing in my twenties? School was so easy, but life is so hard." This book isn't a step by step guide. It won't go into how to systematically meet guys/girls, get over depression, or how to do well on an interview. There are plenty of books on getting into the details. Instead, this is a thought provoking book aimed against the popular twenty something zeitgeist today that, "we can do anything", "there's always time", and "I have until 30 to get my life together." Not to mention the million other stories we tell ourselves like, "I'm never going to get good at this", "It's better to wait rather than choose", or "Everyone on Facebook is doing better than me." In a sense, this book is like "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" to personal finance. They are paradigm shifting books that sweep away the false assumptions and beliefs we acquired from our childhood and culture and replace them with solid, real principles on how reality works. This book isn't going to do the heavy lifting for you, only you can do that. This book is the starting point to begin living one's twenties with drive, clarity, and purpose. The book itself is divided into three sections: Work, Love, and The Brain and the Body. Work talks about increasing your identity capital, the value of "weak ties", that you know what you want even though you think you don't, the unhelpful prevalence of Facebook comparisons, and seeing a career as the first step in a unique, customized life versus settling down. Love goes into the importance of taking dating seriously in your 20s, compatibility with possible in-laws, how to make sure "living together" isn't harmful, and choosing the right partner. The Brain and Body is sort of a misc. collection of pieces centered on how your brain, body, and mind works. The Brain and Body section also covered a lot of neuroscience research I wasn't aware of. For example, your brain undergoes a radical period of reconfiguration in your 20s which means now is the best opportunity for learning skills. Or, the frontal cortex that controls a lot of our mature responses such as regulating emotions is still developing for most people in their 20s. Besides the physical brain, Dr. Jay also talks about the mind such as learning how to calm yourself down, how to develop confidence (rather than believing it's fixed), and that you can radically alter how you feel by changing parts of your life. It also has a very frank chapter on fertility and that ladies don't have as much time as they think to have children. The final chapter before the epilogue talks about mapping your years to see how limited your time truly is. It seems common for many young people to talk about getting their career in order or going to graduate school eventually, getting married, and having kids but not all at the same time. Except, when you're 25 or 27 saying this, you're quickly running out of time. It's hard to convey in a review how good the book is. This is the book I wish I could have written in ten years. Not just because of the advice, but because of the patient interviews. I found myself agreeing and sharing the same POV as the patient many times but through the counseling session, it was almost like I was sitting there and seeing my own assumptions fall apart and seeing the truth for what it really is. This book doesn't knock you over the head with what Dr. Jay thinks is right but begins from where you already are and lets you see for yourself the problems in your logic. Just as any good psychologist does. This isn't your run of the mill advice book. There's a lot of popular myths and assumptions that this book dispels with cold, hard truth. I'm a self-help addict, and there was plenty of new information I never heard or thought of before. The underlying message in all the stories and chapters is start living your life now. Take responsibility. Don't believe the lies that your twenties don't matter or that confidence is only innate. For most people, the late night parties, pointless jobs, and random hookups won't be what build your identity, what you care about or remember in the future. If anything, as Billy in the book says, you will probably feel betrayed that you wasted the best years of your life doing all the meaningless things that culture and others mislead you to believe most important. So, start preparing now because the investments (or lack thereof) that you do in your twenties will have the greatest impact in your career, marriage, and overall happiness. As she ends the book, "The future isn't written in the stars. There are no guarantees. So claim your adulthood. Be intentional. Get to work. Pick your family. Do the math. Make your own certainty. Don't be defined by what you didn't know or didn't do. You are deciding your life right now."