Live fast, die young, be wild and have funLana Del Rey
The above quote seems to be the motto of most going-twenty and twentysomethings. It used to be mine too. However, since I read the book the defining decade my views on the next 10 years of my life have slightly changed. With the book „The Defining Decade“, Psychologist and author Meg Jay Ph.D. challenges the idea of wasting your twenties on sweet nothings and chasing adventure. In her book, she illustrates her findings on working with twentysomethings and thirtysomethings. While a lot of us like to believe that our twenties serve as the perfect time to let loose and get loose, Meg Jay argues that this particular time span (from our twenties to thirty) is one of the most important ones to define the comfort of the rest of our lives.
Quit frankly, I have to admit reading this book was the wake up call I needed.
I will not go in depth of the contents of the book. However, I‘d like to share my thoughts and what I‘ve learned from each part in a few sentences.
What stood out to me the most in this part of the book was the quote
… – if you have the courage to know what you want.Meg Jay Phd.
Often times I find myself being very detailed and specific with what I don‘t want. But I never catch myself commiting or even daring to want a specific thing. Maybe it‘s the overwhelming amount of options or the fear of loosing/never achieving what I want and desire. So in particular the part about having the courage to know popped out to me.
Quick divergence into the origins of the word courage. Brené Brown defines the word courage as
Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language – it‘s from the latin word cor, meaning heart – and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.Brené Brown
What I really liked about this part was The Big Five. The Big Five is a simple and widely researched personality test that consists of the factors:
Each of the factors consist of a spectrum of personality traits that range from the high end to the low end. In the book Meg Jay recommends to profile yourself and then the person you are aspiring to have a romantic relationship with, with The Big Five. In order to cut the breaks early on if your personalities seem to clash.
The Brain and the Body
Never again will we be so quick to learn new things. Never again will it be so easy to become the people we hope to be. The risk is that we may not act on it.Meg Jay Phd.
In this part, she mentions that our brains have a second critical (from adolescence to twentysomething) growth spurt where thousands of new connections in the brain (search for neuroplasticity) significantly increase our capacity to learn new things. This fact made me really curious since I believed that after your teens the ability to learn new things gets harder and harder.
In this time the frontal lobe develops to its full potential in order to face the uncertainties of adulthood. Whatever you spent most of your time on be it dating, friendship, jobs etc. will help you learn the essential skills needed in society for the rest of your life.
To paint a picture here, if you spent most of your time with people lounging around without a plan or a goal, at a job with no perspective and any kind of challenge and dating people that emotionally drain you, you will adapt this attitude for (possibly) the rest of your life.
Whatever neuro connections we use will strengthen. On the other hand whatever connections in the frontal lobe we don‘t use will wither away. What you don‘t use you will lose.
As Meg Jay puts it:
We become what we hear and see and do every day.Meg Jay Phd
I want to end this post by sharing one more practical tip from the book. If you think that you have more than enough time to figure your life out when your thirty, consider creating a timeline with all the goals that you have in life. Starting from your age now count and list all of the things you want to achieve by a certain time.
For me it is starting a business, finishing college, working towards a family and working for a year in corporate by 30. When I saw my timeline in front of me I realized how limited my time really is. I can‘t waist another year, month, week or even a day on stuff that doesn‘t help me achieve these goals.
I‘m not saying that you have to figure your life out today, tomorrow or even next week. All I‘m saying is – and what Meg Jay is proposing – that we have to be more mindful with our time and start to commit to certain things in our twenties in order to live with more ease when we hit our „dreaded“ 30‘s.
If you have come this far I appreciate you a lot.
If you are in need for some random printables go check out my free resource library.
For all the twentysomethings reading this blog post leave a comment with a goal of yours. If you’re a 30 or 40 something leave a comment with what you wished you have started in your twenties.