What I’ve Learned from The Defining Decade

I’m in the pivotal stretch of life. Actually, arguably all of life is pivotal because everything hits hard in the present moment. Anyway, aside from that tangent, I turned 20 in August. Hooray!! I have now entered my 20s in the middle of a global pandemic and will be graduating college in 2022. If I’m being honest, I’m a little overwhelmed, stressed out, and just nervous for what’s to come. But lucky for me, I came across The Defining Decade after seeing 2 people I follow on Instagram read it. 

I’m usually a fiction girl, so psychology/self-help was a little out of the norm for me but I tried to read it anyway and I loved it! I took some many notes and a little bit ago, I promised you all that I would write this post because it would have been too much to write in my book review blog posts.

My Learnings from The Defining Decade

Build your identity capital

Now, if you’re like me, you might be saying to yourself “What is that? And how do I build that?” Well, you’re in luck because you already have it and you’ve already been building it. Identity capital is who you are and who you know. Who are you – ethnicity, hometown, childhood friends, high school friends, college friends, etc. You have accumulated so much experience in life and that is something you bring into the working world. If you feel like you don’t have defined interests or unique qualities, build that for yourself. Find something you like, a hobby or a part time job and work on it that way. Go to different meetings in your hometown for networking or just meeting new people. The wealth of your identity capital will help you distinguish yourself when it comes to applying for jobs but also when you want to invest in more relationships. 

The only way to figure out if you want to figure out if you want to do something is to do something

It’s easy to think in youth, you just need to “find your passion” and in the blink of an eye, you’ll feel this overwhelming calling to do this thing for the rest of your life. While that may be the case for a special few, it isn’t for the rest of us. Do something. If you’re interested in it, why not try it out? To do something for a week or a month isn’t committing to doing something for a lifetime. But if you don’t do it for a moment, how can you know if you want to do something for a lifetime? Just do something.

Say yes to opportunity

When you get a new opportunity, it’s so easy to doubt your capabilities and your qualifications. But that’s the fear talking. If it’s an opportunity you’ve been wanting, if you’ve done the work to get the skills or if you’re willing to do the work for it, say yes. It’s that simple. 

Use your weak links

We often think the people closest to us will help us get to where they want to be. And that can be true if all of your friends are in the same industry. But if not, use your weak links. Use the people you talk to every once in a while. The person you met doing that internship. Use the friends of friends. Use them as resources because they have an entirely different resource pool than you do. Let the help you end up where you want to be.

The shoulds keep us from our true goals

When we feel like we should live in a city after graduation instead of in the countryside, when we feel like we should get a real job instead of building our own business, when we feel like we should go into the corporate world instead of working at a startup, THAT KEEPS US FROM OUR TRUE GOALS. Keep your blinders on! Don’t listen to the people who tell you where you should be. Listen to those who help you get where you want to be.

Stop living with ideals and move forward with actual goals

It’s great to dream up an incredible life for yourself. But if you spend years dreaming because you’re scared that it won’t be as perfect as you imagined, well I’ve got news for you. It won’t be as perfect as you imagined. That doesn’t mean it won’t be good! Take the steps to get where you want to go. Dreams are for sleeping. You’re wide awake. Now move!

Life isn’t just about your career. It’s who you’re with and where you live.

In a week there are 168 hours. You are working 40 hours. And you’re sleeping for, let’s say, 56 hours. That’s 96 hours. You have 72 hours left. What will you do? Who will you spend your time with? And where do you want to be? These are important questions to ask and you should live them out intentionally. 

Now we move onto the next facet of life – RELATIONSHIPS!

It’s absolutely insane that we dedicate our college years to building towards a career but we don’t take so much as 1 class on finding a spouse

I loved that Dr. Meg Jay mentioned this point. And it’s so true. Why don’t we invest in relationships in terms of learning about how to build meaningful and sustainable ones? Please comment! I’d love to know what your thoughts are. 

Marriage isn’t just about merging two people’s lives together but their families

This point may seem obvious and I’m not married, so I can’t speak to this personally, but I can just say that if people don’t like each other in the family, it can cause tension that just ruins the vibe of any family activity. If you’re building a good family, you would hope that the two families are good themselves before you and your partner jump into it. That’s just a thought.

Cohabitation isn’t always wise

This is a controversial take. But this is what Dr. Jay said and having done previous research on cohabitation, I agree. I think you should approach moving in with someone intentionally and it shouldn’t be something taken lightly. I highly recommend that you do your own research into this.

Figure out your priorities before you make plans

I do this all the time. I say yes to anything and everything assuming I’ll make it work and end up miserable because I didn’t wait and consider my priorities while making decisions. This advice could be applied to your to do list or to saying yes to getting into a relationship with someone, What do you value? Does the person you’re interested in have the same priorities? I would caution you into entering into a relationship where your main values are different because it will inevitably cause conflict. 

Make plans and have goals for the future

I think an issue when it comes to relationships is that people come in with different expectations that are unspoken and then when they are invested in each other, they realize the expectations are different. Due to love, they either stay in the relationship. Or end up in heartbreak after ending the relationship. Communicate your plans. Don’t date someone who doesn’t want kids if you want kids. Don’t date someone who wants to get married soon if you’re not looking to settle down. Communicate expectations early on.

Plan your future with both family and career in mind

I know this is another piece of controversial advice but I loved that Dr. Meg Jay mentioned this. For those who want children, you will want to think about when you plan to have children and what adjustments you want to make to your life. Maybe that looks like moving closer to your parents and buying a home so they can see their grandchildren. Perhaps either parent decides they want to stay home when the kids are little and go back to work later on. Maybe you want to homeschool or send your kids off to private school. How do you need to adjust your budget in order to move? How much do you need to save for a house? How many kids do you want? Think about these things before you’re in the middle of the circumstance with no plan but a feeling of overwhelm. 

I hope these lessons are helpful, or at the very least keep you thinking. Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

Signing off, 


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