Friday, October 26, 2012

"The Defining Decade"

Check out this short interview with Meg Jay, Ph.D, the author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now. I'm going order it from the library, but until I can read the whole book, what do you think about the article?

I have issues with the passage at the end, when Jay states:

Courtesy of Highways Agency.
'Twenty-somethings are very prone to what's called present bias. So are all humans, which is what procrastination is about, and oil consumption and overspending ... I think thinking about later is very scary for 20-somethings, because they don't have a lot of experience doing that. So, a lot of what I do with clients is not give them advice as much as ask very pointed questions: "What is it that you want?" "Where would you like to be in five or 10 years?" "Do you want to get married?" "Do you want to have kids?" "What do you want your job to be?" ... These are questions that no one asks 20-somethings because they know it scares them. But deep down, 20-somethings want people to ask them these questions because they know they need to figure it out.'

This seemed like an odd thing to say, to me, because the future is all that my twenty-something friends are thinking about: what careers they want, where they want to live, and who they want to be with. That's why twentysomethings are having a hard time of it in today's economy. They know what they want -- good jobs, financial independence, and (in some cases) families -- but they're having trouble getting it. Not being able to move out or find jobs equal to their level of education both embarrasses and worries twentysomethings. It embarrasses us because we feel like we're failing at life, and it worries us for many reasons, one of which is because I know that how much we earn in the formative years of our careers will influence how much we earn when we get to be experienced professionals.

Courtesy of elycefeliz.
If twentysomethings don't want to think about something in the future, it's because we're just trying to keep our heads above the water. I read an article in Time a few months ago that said that young adults should start saving for retirement and investing in their (401)k by the time they are in their mid-twenties. This is a nonsense statement to me, since I can't even afford to rent my own apartment, and I know several people who have yet to buy their first cars. When you're still sleeping in your childhood bedroom, it's pointless to start worrying about retirement. We're keeping the whole picture in mind, but trying to alleviate stress by focusing most of our attention on the next step forward.

Photo attributions from Flickr/Creative Commons:
"HA1-000344," courtesy of Highways Agency

"Money," courtesy of elycefeliz

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