“The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay

I grabbed “The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay as a recommendation on one of the podcasts that I listen to but also because of its subtitle “Why your twenties matter – and how to make the most of them now”. As I am in my twenties and am constantly asking myself these questions, I was intrigued to see what the book has to offer.

Having Vision In Your Twenties

One of the most important realizations for me from this book was that your twenties is indeed your time to hustle. It is much harder to stay overnight and work long hours or jump into the new adventures when you have a lot of responsibilities such as family or mortgage. So don’t waste that precious time – hustle while you can if you don’t want to have to hustle when you are fifty.

Think For Your Future

Many of us think that our twenties is the time to have fun because that is what the perception of the twenties usually has been. Although it is important to have fun, I also strongly believe (and the author agrees) that twenties is the fundamental time to build the identity capital “our collection of personal assets. It is a repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time”. It is also the things that we do extra and that can have a longtime effect on our personal and professional life – taking that design course, or building a habit to exercise or establishing a group of close friends. So invest in your identity.

We are born not all at once, but by bits.

Do Something

If you are not sure what to do or where to start – do at least something. That’s the only way to figure things out.

Take Responsibility For Your Life

It is quite easy to look around and find a thing that you can blame for what you are not having or doing. I bet every one of us had thought from time to time how someone is luckier than we are or has better headstart than we do. It is true that we all are not starting in the same place. The ultimate way to move forward, though, is to not victimize yourself but to realize that you are the only one who is responsible for what becomes of your life and the sooner you realize it, the harder you will be working on what you want. There is no magic wand that is going to change things for you, you will need to be changing them for yourself. This will often involve making tough decisions that comes as a part of taking responsibility for your life.

I have picked up a few quotes from Meg Jay that especially resonated with me on this:

“There is a certain terror that goes along with saying “My life is up to me”. It is scary to realize there’s no magic, you can’t just wait around, no one can really rescue you, and you have to do something”.

“We think that by avoiding decisions now, we keep all of our options open for later – but not making choices is a choice all the same”.

“When we make choices, we open ourselves to hard work and failure and heart-break, so sometimes it feels easier not to know, not to choose, and not to do”.

The Power Of Weak Ties

The weak ties are “are the people we have met, or are connected to somehow, but do not currently know well”. For example a “friend of a friend”, a neighbor we see or a co-worker’s husband that we met at the Christmas part. These ties can have a huge effect on your life – they bring something fresh in our life that is outside of the homogeneity of our usual friend circles be it a new job offer, a new idea or an introduction to someone we always wanted meet. So be mindful of your weak ties.

Unthought Knowns

“Unthought knowns” are those things that we know about ourselves but forget somehow. For example for me, my unthought known is learning and growth. I have been always passionate about those and loved seeing people improve but I somehow lost sight of this interest. Meg Jay mentions that those unthought knowns are particularly important for choosing our way in the career and professional life:

“We think that we have too many choices, but in fact we do not, we have 6 choices at best and this is why things such as “follow your dream” or “reach for the stars do not really work”. 

So what do we do in that case? We look at our “unknown knowns” and check what possibilities are related to those and we can work on.


These are my main takeaways from Meg Jay’s “The Defining Decade”. They were not the revolutionary discoveries for me but I liked that these truths nudged me from the pages of this book. I felt like I needed to hear them again and I am glad that Meg Jay did it in a very straightforward and honest way. So hustle and remember that:

A wise man makes his own luck.


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