The Defining Decade: Why your 20s matter & how to make the most of them

Meg Jay, PhD


Rick Carabba
Touches on how we can best set ourselves up best based on her 30 years experience as a therapist to 20somethings. Really refreshing read for fellow twentysomethings. Talks about work, love, and our brain/body.
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Book Note

"Uncertainty makes people anxious, and distraction is the 21st century opiate of the masses" —Meg Jay


Identity Capital

collection of personal assets and experiences. "It is the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships and other things we want."

What next step as the most identity capital?

The Ben Franklin Effect

When we ask "weak ties" (people we know but not super well) to help us with a favor, they start to like us and are more likely to grant additional favors for us in the future.

Could be explained by "helpers high" that comes from being generous.

"If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, which is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are." —Charles de Montesquieu, writer/philospher

Your twenties are the time to shape your narrative, your story. When interviewing it's important that you form a narrative arc about you, your interests, experiences, and how you came to be in the position you are.


Consumer Lock-In

The decreases likelihood to search for other options or change to another option once an investment has been made. (Form completed, entrance fee, setup cost).

Untold stories

The stories we tell about ourselves ( the inner narratives) become facets of our identity. They usually answer "why" we live a certain way. Research shows that these untold stories are most often about shame. ("beyond the emotional event: six studies on social sharing of emotions. in cognition and emotion 5, 1991, 435-465)

The power about these inner stories is that they can loop silently in our minds without knowing.

These stories originated in old conversations and experiences during childhood, the only way to change is through new conversations and experiences.

Don't get stuck.

The Brain and the Body

"The more you use your brain, the more brain you will have to use." George A. Dorsey, Anthropologist

Evolutionary theorists believe the brain is designed to pay special attention to what catches us off guard. Viewing outlandish surprising things tattoo them deeper in our brain.

When surprises happen, especially if it arouses emotion, we remember it vividly for a long time.

"Inaction breeds fear and doubt. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, don not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. " Dale Carnegie

Outside-in confidence

"Confidence doesn't come from the inside out. It's outside in. People feel less anxious and more confident when they can point to external experiences theyve done on outside. fake confidence is stuffing our self doubt. empty confidence comes from parental platitudes on lunch hour.. Real confidence comes from mastery experiences, which are actual lived moments of success, especially when things seem difficult. "

Our personalities change more during our twentysomethings than any time before or after. (Patterns of Mean-level change in personality traits across the life course: a meta analysis of longitudinal studies. Psych bulletin 2006)

The availability Heuristic

a mental bias where we decide how likely something is based on how easy it is to bring an example to mind. A quick example must mean it's common, however it's a small sample size and just because it was tattooed deeper or more talked about dont mean its more common.

"to achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time." Leonard Bernstein, composer

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Rick Carabba is a writer looking for uncommon ideas that improve people's lives.