Book Review: The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

Forget about having an identity crisis and get some identity capital. Do something that adds value to who you are. Do something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next.

Book Rating


Book Review

The Defining Decade was the kick in the butt I needed, but the one I didn’t quite want yet. I liked this book; I think it’s definitely a good read, but not for everyone. Meg Jay uses a lot of examples from her clients, and overall gives a twenty-something reader a metaphorical kick-in-the-butt to realize that everything you do in your twenties really does matter. It sets the stage for the rest of your life. But, I think there were some problems overall that made me take away a couple of stars.

The book is split up into three parts: Love, Work, and Brain + Body. I thought the most helpful ones were Work and Brain + Body. Love basically was telling me that I don’t need to date around, and that whoever I choose to marry is one of the biggest, most defining choices of your entire life, yet apparently you aren’t really formed in your twenties so if you choose too soon it may not work out….no pressure. Anyway, so I kinda disregarded this part because I’ve already made that decision for my life. *insert shrug here*

Work was interesting–probably my favorite part. The book really hit on the fact that everything you do in your twenties is defining you and setting the stage for your career later in life. I thought this book had really good advice for work! It inspired me to make sure I’m on a path that sets me up with some identity capital. She also said if you feel anxious and incompetent at work–you’re probably doing it right. Thank goodness!

Brain and Body was the part that really kicked me in the behind. There was quite a chunk of the book that focused on fertility, and seeming to be really telling me that if I don’t have a kid soon, my clock will be out and I may never “truly” live. But then also seemed to keep saying that my brain isn’t fully formed during my 20’s, so how would I be ready to have a kid in that case? There was one person who thought he was going to die and was most afraid because he was going to miss out on his son’s life. It made me feel like she was thinking life didn’t really start until you have a kid–which is definitely not true for everyone.

Anyway, I thought this book was a good reminder for the twenty-somethings, but something to read keeping in mind that at the end of the day, it’s your life. This book has some good advice, but people make it through life happily many different ways. The way Meg Jay is advocating is just one way towards happiness, and surely there are other ways besides getting married, getting promotions, and having kids. I just think the path to happiness isn’t quite as defined as Meg Jay makes it out to be… but I’m no PhD!


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