Wednesday, August 2, 2017

[Book Review] The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

Book Review of The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

I cannot believe it took me so long to read this book! I purchased it back when I was 23 years old. I am 27 now and I am totally kicking myself! There is so much information in this book that I could have used when I was 23!

Photo of The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter--And How to Make the Most of Them Now
by Meg Jay

The Defining Decade was broken up into three major chunks: "Work," "Love," and "The Brain and the Body."


I consider myself incredibly lucky when it comes to work. I started to put the work in early, and I worked very hard every day. At one point in my undergrad life, I held four jobs while I also took classes full time. It was exhausting, but I did it!

One of my greatest steps toward finding the career I wanted, was simply contacting a temp agency and getting a temp job in the career field that I was interested in.

Another major step was completing a couple of internships. One was a bit of a dud, but a great experience nonetheless. But another one was so lovely! I worked very hard and formed great relationships with my boss and coworkers. One week before I graduated college, I was hired by that company.

Related reading: 4 Quick Pieces Of Advice For My College-Aged Self.

That all being said, I didn’t really relate to or pull much inspiration from this first section. I just got to it a bit late. Though while I can’t personally relate, I can see how it will be incredibly helpful to many others! If you are struggling with your career, you need to read this!


This section I just skimmed. Again, if I were still 23, this information may have been a hit with me. But as I'm recently engaged (wahoo!), incredibly happy, and in a relationship with great communication and trust, none of the content in this section resonated with me.

Of course, reading some of this made me want to take photos of the passages and text them to friends who I think could gain something from them! If you're struggling with your love life, I would definitely recommend checking this out.

The Brain and the Body

Now this is the section that really hit home with me! The science behind the brain and how it operates was so interesting to me, and it really helped back up some of the things I have been stressing a bit over. For example, I take things way too personally. But this book explains why I have such a hard time not taking things personally, even when I tell myself over and over again to let it go.

There is also a bit in here about human bodies and the reproductive system. A lot of the stats really shocked me. I had NO clue that the female reproductive system peaks at age 28. That's NEXT YEAR for me! I'm already feeling the clock ticking in the baby department, and some of this actually stressed me out a bit. But I'm so thankful for the information!

My favorite passages:
I told Kate that while most therapists would agree with Socrates that "the unexamined life is not worth living," a lesser-known quote by American psychologist Sheldon Kopp might be more important here: "The unlived life is not worth examining."

Each person has an inherent urge to grow toward his or her potential, much in the way an acorn becomes a tree. But because we all aren't acorns and won't all be oaks, there is bound to be confusion about what exactly growing toward our potential means.

As a twentysomething, life is still more about potential than proof. Those who can tell a good story about who they are and what they want leap over those who can't.

"Other things may change us, but we start and end with family." - Anthony Brandt, writer

When something surprising happens, especially if it arouses emotions, we tent to remember it -vividly- for a long time. These remembrances are called flashbulb memories because they feel illuminated and frozen in time, like our brain has taken a photograph of the moment.

Twentysomethings take these difficult moments particularly hard. Compared to older adults, they find negative information -the bad news- more memorable than positive information -or the good news. MRI studies show that twentysomething brains simply react more strongly to negative information than do the brains of older adults. There is more activity in the amygdala- the seat of the emotional brain.

Danielle needed to understand that tough days were just winds blowing by and that work was not as personal as she imagined it to be.

My final thoughts:
While reading this as a 27 year old, there was a lot of content that I simply didn't care about. Of course, that is just the way that I personally felt. So I gave this book three stars.

My personal thoughts aside, I would very highly recommend this book to anyone in their 20's or 30's! Especially for people that fall within that age range who are struggling with work, love, or planning for their future.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I have yet to read a book like this one! Fantastic review :)

    - El @ El's Book Reviews

    1. I definitely recommend it! Even if you have to skim some bits :) I think everyone can take something away from this one.

  2. HI Erica!

    I really enjoyed your review of this book.

    "Recently engaged (wahoo!)" - always makes me smile lol