Why 30 is not the new 20, and why you cannot put off big decisions without harming your career
Newly minted college graduates in the United States are living with unprecedented uncertainty and anxiety. While a rare minority cruise into their dream job, or postgraduate degree, there are 50 million twenty-somethings who have no idea what they will be doing, where they will be living, or who they will be with in two years or 10 years.
Many simply tread water; working as baristas or waiters, dating all the wrong people and buying into every distraction. All they have to do, they think, is wait it out. Their twenties are for having fun, anyway. Real life starts later.
But clinical psychologist Dr Meg Jay says real life starts in your twenties. She argues that 80 per cent of life’s most defining moments have taken place by the age of 35, making the twenties a “developmental sweet spot” – and many millennials are blowing it.
“I’ve had hundreds of clients who’ve been misled about how important this decade is,” says Jay, who specialises in adult development and wrote The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now. “You are deciding your life right now and claiming your twenties is one of the simplest, yet most transformative things you can do – for work, love and happiness.”