The Defining Decade: Identity Capital Part 1


As you may know, I am currently fascinated by the book I’m reading, The Defining Decade by Meg Jay, PhD. I talked a little bit about what this book is about in my previous post, but the brief description is that this is a book about how the twenties are the years that define the rest of our lives. Intimidating, I know. I’m about a third of the way through this book now. I just finished the first section which talks about work. The next two sections will be on love and then the brain and the body. Lets take it one step at a time as I try to share the wisdom, advice and stories shared throughout this book.

The first chapter on work is entitle Identity Capital. There are four main points I would like to talk about, so for the sake of simplicity and the length of the post, I am going to split up the points, discussing them one at a time.

You’re probably wondering what identity capital is and wondering if I meant to say identity crisis. Here’s an excerpt from The Defining Decade to explain…

“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. Some identity capital goes on a resume, such as degrees, jobs, test scores, and clubs. Other identity capital is more personal, such as how we speak, where we are from, how we solve problems, how we look. Identity capital is how we build ourselves – bit by bit, over time. 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.”

In our twenties we should be choosing the right parts to build the kind of capital we want. The parts are the qualifications, jobs, talents and experience we choose. Think of those building blocks you had as a kid. When you picked up two blocks you decided which was the better fit and how it would work with the other blocks. The capital you choose will help in the same way. They are the building blocks of your career.

“[A better job] doesn’t just come along. One good piece of capital is how you get to better.”

We will continue to talk about identity capital in the next few posts to come. We will discuss Erik Erikson who coined the term “identity crisis”. We will go into the story Dr. Meg Jay shares about her experience after college and how her first real piece of identity capital helped her. Then we will talk about underemployment and choosing your identity capital.

*All quotes from this post and this post series come from The Defining Decade and should be accredited to Dr. Meg Jay.


20 thoughts on “The Defining Decade: Identity Capital Part 1

  1. I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while but it’s never available at the library. After hearing a little more about it, I really need to get on this. Maybe I’ll just buy it from Amazon. Looking forward to more of your thoughts on the book!

    • I actually bought it from Amazon. It’s cheaper than Barnes & Nobles I know that. I’m really glad I bought it so I can refer back to it, make notes and share it with friends. I think it would be a really great investment.

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