The Defining Decade - Deepstash
The Defining Decade

Ezinne Esther's Key Ideas from The Defining Decade
by Meg Jay

Ideas, facts & insights covering these topics:

16 ideas


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The twenties are when we transform into so many new things. At this period life is full of new and surprising moments, even flashbulb memories. The twenty-something years are real-time and ought to be lived that way. In the 19th century, the average twenty-one-year-old was married and caring for a new baby. Those times school ended with high school or maybe college.


24 reads

For hundreds of years, twentysomethings moved from being sons and daughters to being husbands and wives bit within a few decades a new developmental period opened up. The twenties critical period of adulthood, they are the years when it will be easiest to start the lives we want. The period when people and personalities are poised for transformation.


19 reads

Identity Capital

Is our collection of personal assets, the repertoire of individual resources that are assembled over time. These are investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough or long enough that they become a part of who we are. Some identity capital goes on rèsumés such as degrees, jobs, test scores, etc., others are more personal such as how we speak, how we solve problems, where we are from, how we look, etc. Summarily, identity capital is how we build ourselves bit by bit over time. It is what we bring to the adult marketplace. 


14 reads

Underemployed and unemployed twentysomething

Twentysomethings who take time to explore and have the nerve to make commitments along the way construct stronger identities. They have higher self-esteem and are more persevering and realistic. There is a difference between being underemployed and unemployed, most twentysomethings find themselves in the former. Not making use of your twenties in building and acquiring identity capital will leave you feeling like you have to ultimately pay a surprisingly high price for a string of random twentysomething jobs. 


9 reads

Careers ain't build on GPAs and college majors

Identities and careers ain't made out of college majors or GPAs but out of a couple of door opening pieces of identity capital.

Make no mistake of taking jobs or volunteering in places that won't allow you to earn experience or horn your skill for your career. You can't think your way through life but the only way to figure out what to do is to do something.


11 reads

Weak Ties

The people who we have met or are connected to somehow but don't currently know well are our weak ties. The more we have been around someone the stronger the tie because we have shared experiences and confidence. New things almost always come from outside your circle. Weak ties are those who give recommendations, suggestions, etc., easily. When needy anything favor from your weak ties, make yourself interesting, relevant, do your homework so you know exactly what you need.


7 reads

"My life is up to me"

There is a certain terror that goes along with saying "my life is up to me". Not knowing what you want to do with your life or not at least having some ideas about what to do next is a defense against that terror. Being confused about choices is nothing more than hoping that maybe there is a way to he through life without taking charge. It is scary to realize there is no magic, you can't wait around no one can rescue you, you have to do something now.


7 reads

Unthought Known

Most twentysomethings grow up with some abstract commands like " follow your dreams, reach for the stars" without knowing much about how to get these things done. They don't know how to get what they want or sometimes even what they want. Unthought knowns are those things we know about ourselves but forget somehow. These are dreams we have lost sight of or the truths we sense but don't say out loud.


7 reads

Each person has an inherent urge to grow towards his or her potential

Each person has an inherent urge to grow towards his or her potential much in the way an acorn becomes a tree and since we are not acorns and won't all be oaks, there is the tendency for confusion about exactly growing towards our potentials means. Part of realizing our potential is recognizing how our particular gifts and limitations fit with the world around us.


7 reads

Distinctiveness is a fundamental part of identity.

Distinctiveness is a fundamental part of identity. Differentness is what makes us who we are. It gives our lives meaning. We have to shift from a negative identity or a sense of 'what I am not to a positive or a sense of what I am. The question twentysomethings should often ask themselves is what am I for?.


7 reads

"Society is structured to distract people from the decisions that have a high impact on happiness to focus attention on the decisions that have a marginal impact on happiness"



7 reads


Marriage is one of the most defining moments because so much wrapped up in it. So many twentysomethings either don't take their relationships seriously or don't think they are allowed then, somewhere around thirty, getting married suddenly seems pressing. 


7 reads

The cohabitation effect

Couples who livet ogether first are actually less satisfied with their marriages and more likely to divorce than couples who do not. This is what sociologists call the cohabitation effect. Most twentysomethings settle for the misconception that living together is a good test of marriage, which has become common among twentysomethings.


7 reads

Being in like

They Being in like means being alike in ways that matter and genuinely liking who the other person is. Couples who are similar in areas such as socioeconomic status, education age, ethnicity, religion, attractiveness, attitude, values, and intelligence, etc., are more likely to be satisfied with their relationships and are less likely to seek divorce. There will always be differences of some sort but statistically speaking what will kill a relationship is what you do with the differences. 


8 reads

"To achieve greatness two things are needed; a plan and not quite enough time" 



6 reads

Present Bais

Present bias is especially strong among twentysomething who put a lot of psychological distance between now and later.The future can seem socially distance when we hang out with people who are not talking about it either. Later can even feel spatially far away if we imagine ultimately settling down in some other place. The future isn't written in starts, there are no guarantees, do the math, make your own certainty. Be ruled by time, the wisest counselor of all.


7 reads



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Curious about different takes? Check out our The Defining Decade Summary book page to explore multiple unique summaries written by Deepstash users.

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