Summary of The Defining Decade

Why Your Twenties Matter – And How to Make the Most of Them Now

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The Defining Decade book summary
If you’re in your 20s, think about what you want from your future and act now.


6 Overall

6 Applicability

7 Innovation

6 Style


The media have embraced a “30-is-the-new-20” culture that treats ages 20 to 29 as an extended adolescence. Parents, professors, hiring officers and other onlookers view the 20s as a fun period for young people to experiment before they find real jobs, get married, buy houses or have kids. Many twentysomethings believe they’re supposed to have a good time while avoiding adult responsibilities. Instead, clinical psychologist Meg Jay urges people in their 20s to get busy and make the most of this critical growth period that, she contends, will define the adults they’ll become. Jay refers to case histories from her practice to discuss what people in their 20s think about career and relationships. She also explains how their brains develop. Jay may help managers and HR professionals better understand young entry-level employees, but her treatise lacks workforce practicality, such as tips to recruit or retain them. Yet, 20- to 30-year-olds may find her thoughts a useful prod. getAbstract recommends Jay’s work to those in the under-30 set who need motivation, and to the parents, professors and managers who deal with them.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why people in their 20s should lay the groundwork for their adult career and personal life
  • How young adults approach work and romance
  • How they develop mentally and physically


The Fallacy Behind “30-Is-the-New-20”
Many people in their 20s don’t understand why they feel isolated, anxious and confused. Society encourages them to live in the moment and not worry about the future. Although many twentysomethings are partying and “hooking up,” they yearn for a deeper...
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About the Author

Clinical psychologist, author and speaker Meg Jay is an assistant clinical professor at the University of Virginia.

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