The Defining Decade
The Defining Decade

The Defining Decade

A colleague of mine likes to say that twentysomethings are like airplanes, planes just leaving New York City bound for somewhere west. Right after takeoff, a slight change in course is the difference between landing in either Seattle or San Diego. But once a plane is nearly in San Diego, only a big detour will redirect it to the northwest. (Location 323)

Note: Course correcting early is far easier than later on.

Identity capital is our collection of personal assets. It is the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time. These are the investments we make in ourselves, the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are. ... Most important, identity capital is what we bring to the adult marketplace. It is the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships and other things we want. (Location 376)

I told Helen some of my story. I told her the twentysomething years have a different economy than college. For some, life may be about neatly building on Phi Beta Kappa or an Ivy League degree. More often, identities and careers are made not out of college majors and GPAs but out of a couple of door-opening pieces of identity capital (Location 430)

Tags: identity capital

Note: Identity capital

The one thing I have learned is that you can’t think your way through life. The only way to figure out what to do is to do—something. (Location 490)

Tags: execution

Note: You cant think your way through life. You have to do something to figure it out

Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse, and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference. —Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google (Location 503)

Tags: comfort zone

Note: Say yes - do something new and meet new people

Weak ties feel too different or, in some cases, literally too far away to be close friends. But that’s the point. Because they’re not just figures in an already ingrown cluster, weak ties give us access to something fresh. They know things and people that we don’t know. Information and opportunity spread farther and faster through weak ties than through close friends because weak ties have fewer overlapping contacts. Weak ties are like bridges you cannot see all the way across, so there is no telling where they might lead. (Location 556)

Tags: network

Note: .network

If weak ties do favors for us, they start to like us. Then they become even more likely to grant us additional favors in the future. Franklin decided that if he wanted to get someone on his side, he ought to ask for a favor. (Location 646)

Tags: favour

Note: Ben franklin effect - get someone on your side by asking for a favour

Make yourself interesting. Make yourself relevant. Do your homework so you know precisely what you want or need. Then, respectfully, ask for it. (Location 673)

Distinctiveness is a fundamental part of identity. We develop a clearer sense of ourselves by firming up the boundaries between ourselves and others. I am who I am because of how I am different from those around me. There is a point to my life because it cannot be carried out in exactly the same way by any other person. Differentness is part of what makes us who we are. It gives our lives meaning. (Location 988)

Tags: identity capital, uniqueness

Note: .uniqueness

If the first step in establishing a professional identity is claiming our interests and talents, then the next step is claiming a story about our interests and talents, a narrative we can take with us to interviews and coffee dates. (Location 1074)

Tags: career

Note: .career

Interviewers want to hear a reasonable story about the past, present, and future. How does what you did before relate to what you want to do now, and how might that get you to what you want to do next? Everyone realizes most applicants don’t actually know what their careers will look like. Even the ones who think they do often change their minds. (Location 1083)

Tags: career

Note: .career

don’t expect people to say it’s their dream to work here forever. I roll my eyes at that. No one knows where they will be in five years. Still, the burden is on the applicants to show that working here makes sense beyond the person just wanting a job or the building being two blocks from their apartment.” (Location 1086)

Tags: career

Note: .career

In psychotherapy, there’s a saying that “the slower you go, the faster you get there.” Sometimes the best way to help people is to slow them down long enough to examine their own thinking. Everyone has gaps in their reasoning. If you stop and shine a light on these mental ellipses, you find assumptions that drive behavior without our being aware of them. (Location 1376)

Tags: slow down

Note: the slower you go, the faster you get there

Too often, twentysomethings enter into what they imagine will be low-cost, low-risk living situations only to find themselves unable to get out months or years later. It’s like signing up for a credit card with 0 percent interest for the first year. At the end of twelve months, when the interest goes up to 23 percent, you feel stuck because your balance is too high to pay off and you didn’t get around to transferring your balance to another low-interest card sooner. In fact, cohabitation can be exactly like that. In behavioral economics, it’s known as consumer lock-in. Lock-in is the decreased likelihood to search for other options, or change to another option, once an investment in something has been made. The initial investment, called a setup cost, can be big or small. A form. An entrance fee. The hassle of creating an online account. A down payment on a car. The greater the setup costs, the less likely we are to move to another, even better, situation later. But even a minimal investment can lead to lock-in, especially when we are faced with switching costs. (Location 1447)

Tags: relationships

Neuroticism, or the tendency to be anxious, stressed, critical, and moody, is far more predictive of relationship unhappiness and dissolution than is personality dissimilarity. While personality similarity can help the years run smoothly, any two people will be different in some way or another. How a person responds to these differences can be more important than the differences themselves. To a person who runs high in Neuroticism, differences are seen in a negative light. Anxiety and judgments about these differences then lead to criticism and contempt, two leading relationship killers (Location 1828)

Tags: relationship

Note: .relationship

most forward part of the brain—literally and figuratively—is the frontal lobe, located just behind the forehead. The most recent part of the brain to have evolved in humans, it is also the final area of the brain to mature in each individual. Nicknamed the “executive functioning center” and the “seat of civilization,” the frontal lobe is where reason and judgment reside. (Location 1937)

Tags: brain

Note: reason and logic reside in the frontal lobe

From MRI scans of healthy adolescents and twentysomethings, we now know that the frontal lobe does not fully mature until sometime between the ages of twenty and thirty. In our twenties, the pleasure-seeking, emotional brain is ready to go while the forward-thinking frontal lobe is still a work in progress. (Location 1953)

Tags: brain

Note: the frontal lobe does not fully mature until sometime between 20 and 30

Twentysomethings who don’t feel anxious and incompetent at work are usually overconfident or underemployed. (Location 2081)

Tags: comfort zone, career

Note: .career

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. When twentysomethings have their competence criticized, they become anxious and angry. They are tempted to march in and take action. They generate negative feelings toward others and obsess about the why: “Why did my boss say that? Why doesn’t my boss like me?” Taking work so intensely personally can make a forty-hour workweek long indeed. (Location 2113)

Tags: personally, brain

Note: 20 somethings react far more to criticism than older people

William James, the father of research psychology in the United States, said “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.” Knowing what to overlook is one way that older adults are typically wiser than young adults. With age comes what is known as a positivity effect. We become more interested in positive information, and our brains react less strongly to what negative information we do encounter. We disengage with interpersonal conflict, choosing to let it be, especially when those in our network are involved. (Location 2119)

Tags: positive

Note: .positive older people react less to negative information

Inaction breeds fear and doubt. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. —Dale Carnegie, (Location 2190)

Tags: action

Note: .action

Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus 10,000 times is skill. (Location 2192)

Tags: #newsletter, quote

Note: .quote knowledge is not skill

Danielle’s idea that people were innately confident on the job, or they weren’t, is called a fixed mindset. We can have fixed mindsets about different things—intelligence, athletic ability, social savvy, thinness—but, whatever the case, a fixed mindset is a way of thinking in black and white. When it came to confidence, Danielle thought there were haves and have-nots and maybe she was a have-not. She feared her more self-possessed coworkers were cut out for the work when she obviously wasn’t. This made work a scary place. Big mistakes or negative comments felt like verdicts.

Those who use what is called a growth mindset believe that people can change, that success is something to be achieved. Maybe it’s not the case that any person can be anything, but it is still true that within certain parameters, people can learn and grow. For those who have a growth mindset, failures may sting but they are also viewed as opportunities for improvement and change. (Location 2208)

Tags: growth mindset, mindset

Note: .mindset

Real confidence comes from mastery experiences, which are actual, lived moments of success, especially when things seem difficult. Whether we are talking about love or work, the confidence that overrides insecurity comes from experience. There is no other way. (Location 2235)

Tags: confidence

Even simply having goals can make us happier and more confident—both now and later. In one study that followed nearly five hundred young adults from college to the mid-thirties, increased goal-setting in the twenties led to greater purpose, mastery, agency, and well-being in the thirties. Goals are how we declare who we are and who we want to be. They are how we structure our years and our lives. Goals have been called the building blocks of adult personality, and it is worth considering that who you will be in your thirties and beyond is being built out of the goals you are setting for yourself today. (Location 2387)

Tags: goals

Note: .goals

The machine was the only thing in this big sterile room, and the operator sat in a booth on the other side of the wall. It was seven thirty in the morning and really cold. They gave me headphones with music to drown out some of the noise, and it was on a preset station. Ozzy Osbourne was playing, believe it or not. There was a time when that would have been funny to me. But it was just ironic or pathetic. Nothing could have felt more irrelevant to my life at that moment than Ozzy Osbourne. I was really scared of what they were going to find. And the funny—no, sad—thing was my life didn’t flash before my eyes. Not at all. I’m thirty-eight years old and there were, like, two things I had in my mind—the way my little son’s hand feels when I hold it and how I didn’t want to leave my wife behind to do it all on her own. What seemed plain to me was that I wasn’t scared of losing my past. I was scared of losing my future. I felt like almost nothing in my life mattered up until just a few years ago. I realized that all the good stuff is still to come. I was so sick and panicked that I might never see my son ride a bike, play soccer, graduate from school, get married, have his own kids. And my career was just getting good. (Location 2567)

Tags: family

To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time. —Leonard Bernstein, composer (Location 2587)

Tags: #newsletter, success

Note: .success

There is a sign just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park that reads in big, bold letters: MOUNTAINS DON’T CARE. It is a sign about preparedness, and it goes on to educate mountain-goers about lightning, avalanches, and proper equipment. I was about twenty-five years old when I first saw this sign. It was scary, but I remember liking it immediately. It meant something to me that the sign was telling it like it is. It was reminding me that, when I went into the wilderness, I had to know what I was getting into and I had to be ready. (Location 2731)

Note: Mountains dont care

The future isn’t written in the stars. There are no guarantees. So claim your adulthood. Be intentional. Get to work. Pick your family. Do the math. Make your own certainty. Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do. You are deciding your life right now. (Location 2757)