The Defining Decade By Meg Jay | Animated Book Summary | Between The Lines
The Defining Decade By Meg Jay | Animated Book Summary | Between The Lines Animated Summary

Why we shouldn't waste our twenties.

In the 1950’s the average 21 year old was married, had a house of their own, and was taking care of their first child.

With advances in technology, society, birth control, and many other factors, people are starting up adult related things later and later in life.

The theme of this generation is that the thirties are the new twenties, and our twenties are supposed to be spent figuring out who we are, exploring all of our options so as not to miss out on anything, and enjoying a decade of a care free party lifestyle.

We are led to believe that the twenty something years don’t matter.

The Defining Decade argues that the twenties do matter and if we don’t take some planning and action into account we will be left scrambling and likely as failures when we enter into our thirties. Where even though we can have some self discovery, travel, and leisure, we need to also be gaining confidence and skills, getting our careers started, and not randomly dating losers thinking eventually we’ll land someone of quality.

The Defining Decade talks about how the twenties is the period of adulthood where it is easiest to set up the lives we want, and where we have to get moving on having a plan set in place. With the timing of our twenties we have little responsibilities and our minds our still very plastic, with the ability to pick up new skills quickly.

Written by Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist in Virginia, The defining decade gives numerous examples from the author’s private meetings with young adults in their twenties. The book is split into three parts that Twenty somethings will generally want to get handled: Work, Relationships, Body & Mind.


Although it’s easy to get that job at the bowling alley with your friends or settle in as a barista at Starbucks, we should get moving on developing identity capital. This means that we need to have a job that may make us a little nervous and uncomfortable, be able to have potential for growth, be related to where we want to end up in our careers, and have you developing interesting skills that will help make you more valuable in a responsible job, or have you learning skills that will be essential for creating your own business in the future.

If you look at your family and friends you hang out with the most, they’ll often have a lot of the same hobbies, opinions, and thoughts as you. Which is where the saying “You are the average of the five people you hang out with the most” comes from. Using the strength of weak ties means getting into contact with people who that you only know as an acquaintance that have connections with what you want to do, because they will have a different life set up than you and your buddies, they’ll be able to help you out a lot more than your strong ties.


People are marrying later and later today, and there’s a stigma that you can’t plan for your marriage and having kids like you plan for buying a house and setting up your career. Nowadays people in their twenties are playing musical chairs with who they date and when they hit thirty it’s like they are just choosing whoever is closest to them and getting married, the author goes into detail about how you shouldn’t just randomly date everyone and see who sticks, but should really figure out the type of person you want to be with in the future and get to work on finding that person.

Many people have fun not planning a relationship and just doing whatever, until they hit thirty and then it quickly turns into a race against time, so figure out what you want before it becomes time to settle for the first Tinder date that goes reasonably well.

The Brain and The Body

The final portion of the book focuses on our minds and bodies. Specifically that our frontal cortex’s are still developing and our twenties is our last chance to really absorb new information and learn quickly.

In conclusion, although most media these days is telling us that our twenties don’t count and that everything will work out okay for us in the end, this book is letting us know it’s time to get moving on our careers, our relationships, and our baby making. We don’t necessarily need to get all these in full swing, but we do need to have some reasonable plans in place so we aren’t caught off guard and regretting it in our thirties and beyond.

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