You may have already seen Meg Jay’s TED Talk called, “30 is not the new 20,” but if not, take 15 minutes to watch it now. Seriously, you won’t regret it.
In the video, Jay acknowledges that the 20-something decade has become socially regarded as a period of “extended adolescence.” And it’s true that the timetable of adulthood has been pushed back — on average, millennials are getting married and starting families and careers later than any previous generation. Having a few extra years (or a full decade, even) to explore and learn about yourself and what you’re passionate is an amazing advantage of this new life timeline.
Jay’s major point, though, is that without a healthy dose of self-awareness and intentional action, this can potentially lead to just “killing time” until your life really begins. Staying in a mediocre situation just because, “Why not? I’ve got time to figure it all out later,” doesn’t help us get clarity about who we are and what we really want in life, and it can quickly lead to stagnation.
When millennials hear, “You have 10 extra years to start your life,” it’s natural for them to lose their sense of urgency and motivation. Jay believes that “as a culture we have trivialized what is actually the defining decade of adulthood.” Living with the belief that the 20-something years “don’t really count” can cause many of us to live a reactive life, instead of proactively creating a life with intention — a life we’re truly excited to be living.
We’re passionate about this topic because we work with so many women who feel like they’re living that kind of reactive life. Several of them are in careers or relationships that they know aren’t right for them. And while they may not be feeling urgency, per se, to figure out what is right, they’re certainly experiencing a persistent feeling of anxiety or restlessness.
So what’s the solution? How can we claim our twenties? Jay recommends getting some “identity capital.”
Building identity capital means doing things that add value to your life and help you answer the questions we all face: “Who am I, and what do I want in life?” Jay recommends spending your twenties doing “something that’s an investment in who you might want to be next.” That’s the main reason our coaching clients come to us in the first place — to get clarity about who they want to be next and to start consciously taking steps in that direction.
We want to emphasize here that none of this is to say you shouldn’t explore and try new jobs, relationships, opportunities, and experiences in your twenties. In fact, we would absolutely encourage that, as long as you’re consciously choosing them, not simply saying “Sure, why not?” to anything that comes along.
So tell us — how do YOU want to start building some identity capital?
Kristen & Rachel