9 20-Something Myths That Will Stall Your Career

career myths

Clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay doesn't subscribe to the theory that your 20s are a throwaway time to just have fun and decide what you want to be when you grow up.

While popular media often depicts 20-somethings as aimless wanderers lounging in extended adolescence, the truth, according to Jay, is that your 20s are your defining decade.

In fact, that's the title of her new book,"The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter—and How to Make the Most of Them Now" and the inspiration for her TED talk, which proclaim that 30 is not the new 20, stressing the importance of that crucial time period post-college, especially when it comes to your career.

We got Jay on the phone to get her advice on nine of the most common myths about your 20s, and what you should do instead. If you've ever considered bailing on your job or your "temporary" barista job has stretched to three years, you're going to want to hear this.

Want more advice from Dr. Jay? Head over to our Twitter page, follow us and tweet @LearnVest with #careertip to tell us your best career tip for 20-somethings. One lucky winner will receive a free copy of her book!

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  • Sha

    I disagree with this list. It was very pessimistic and pretty much tells you to settle in a career with an employer you hate and be afraid to live the life that is meant for you because if you do you’re gonna be poor.

  • BobEC

    As a 29-year-old who took her time establishing her career (I’ve only been in my field in a professional capacity for one year), I’m not so sure I can back up a lot of what’s being said here. I took time off to live and make mistakes and, frankly, am better at my job now because of it. I was accepted to a dual degree graduate program two days after my 25th birthday and began my new journey then. But between college graduation and that point, I was floating. A lot. I don’t regret any of it…nor do I feel like my upcoming 30th birthday is the end of any road at all. It’s the beginning of my life with more stability and happiness than I’ve ever had. That’s very much worth the wait!

  • Andie S.

    This is a terrible list, and as I am in my mid-20s, I do not believe it’s true at all. I am a firm believer in doing what you LOVE, no matter what that means . “Unrealistic” dreams are not an acceptable excuse–make them realistic. If you have a firm goal, you can make it happen no matter what. And when you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. I feel that this article shows limited thinking, and those that believe it probably won’t end up where they want to be.

    • DC

      Even if you “love” what you do, you haven’t yet experienced the kind of “Day In Day Out” that David Foster Wallace explains to the mid-20s with their head in the clouds. http://youtu.be/j4DkqQI-6V0?t=40s
      If you’ve chosen a job that doesn’t allow you to be fully independent and contributing to society, then your comment continues to miss the mark of guiding others into a realistic workforce.

  • R

    So what are you supposed to do if you ended up stuck as a nanny or something for a few years? This article doesn’t give any advice on how to make that a positive or transition into another field. It also overlooks the fact that the economy has sucked since many of us graduated college and we have thus had no choice but to make lattes or chase toddlers for a living.

  • rubymer

    I read her whole book. It’s good advice. If you want to have kids you do need to start to think about it now and take the steps to find a contributing husband and a steady career. Although I will never have kids, I am following most of the steps she outlines and see myself as doing better than many of my peers.

    Yes, it’s pessimistic, but as I see people grow older and still in junior college at 24 years or older I know they should start getting it together.