Your 20′s Matter

Posted August 23, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

The Big Think recently interviewed clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay and published the article “Thirty Is Not the New Twenty: Why Your 20s Matter.” The point? It’s easy for us to dismiss our 20s as times when we get to have fun and figure out who we are without consequences. But the real truth is, your 20s will set you up for future success and are incredibly important to determining how you will live in the future.

Dr. Meg Jay says:

80% of life’s most defining moments take place by about age 35. 2/3 of lifetime wage growth happens during the first ten years of a career. More than half of Americans are married or are dating or living with their future partner by age 30. Personality can change more during our 20s than at any other decade in life. Female fertility peaks at 28. The brain caps off its last major growth spurt.

So how can you make the most of your 20s? Here are just a few tips:

  • Use your time 9-5 seriously. Sure, you want to go out and have fun and meet your future spouse. But do it after hours. Part of using your 20s wisely is to really find balance. When you’re at work, be at work, and take it seriously.
  • Don’t be afraid to change rapidly. One of the most interesting statistics Dr. Jay sites is that 2/3 of your lifetime wage growth happens in your 20s. That’s huge! In that pattern, you shouldn’t be afraid to move around if you need to in order to get ahead. Move jobs to get a raise if you can’t get one where you are. You will change quickly in your 20s.
  • Find the “five year guide” mentor. We talked a few weeks ago about the three mentor The Daily Muse recommends you find. If you know where you want to be in five years and find someone who is already there, you’ll be steps ahead of others in making the right choices to get there.
  • Worry about you first, the spouses and friends will follow. I find that many 20-something women are focused on finding a husband. And take it from someone who’s had two, the person you find when you’re focusing on yourself is better a thousand times over than the one you find when you’re focusing on him! Love yourself, focus on your career, and trust me, you’ll find the right person for you somewhere in the middle.

Don’t throw away your 20s. They’re more important than you think. Read the full article from The Big Think and Dr. Meg Jay by clicking here. And if you’re still looking for resources as to how to get ahead in your 20s and focus on what you need to have a successful 20-something experience, here are a few ideas.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."