The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter & How to Make the Most of Them Now #SarahsBookSoiree

This post is a summary of why you should read :

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now

I’ve recommended this book to everyone since reading it. I personally think this book  spurred me on to create this blog, that’s how much its changed my life.

Clinical psychologist Dr Meg Jay writes about her experiences working  with twentysomething year olds who are trying to navigate their way through life and sometimes avoid their responsibilities because they’re scared of what the future holds. Or these twentysomethings are idle in both their love and work life and need that kick in the right direction to stop them wasting one of the most important periods of their lives, their twenties: The period where people lay the foundations of their wealth and tend to be free from commitments like marriage and children. The book also warns of the dangers of being idle in your twenties and why you should not let time pass you by.

The book is split into three sections:

  1. Work
  2. Love
  3. The Brain and the body

Work:

Contains several stories and anecdotes relating to those who have stayed idle in their twenties and rather than taking charge of their lives, were waiting for someone to come along, and carry them on their journey, kinda like a bouy in the ocean, swaying from side to side wondering where the sea would take them.

If we only wanted to be happy, it would be easy; but we want to be happier than other people, and that is almost always difficult, since we think them happier than they are.

Charles de Montesquieu, Writer/Philosopher

Work also discusses the dangers of social media, how young people  complained that their “life should look better on Facebook” and then got upset when they saw  other people living “better” than them. Which is why we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others because it does nothing for our lives and leads to you feeling less empowered and more helpless.

Another issue discussed were how people avoided the uncertainty the comes after making decisions because they were afraid of the unknown.

It talks about unthought known which are things we know about ourselves but somehow forgot. These could be dreams that we have lost sight of or the truth we sense but don’t say out loud, people tend to be afraid to say these thoughts to others due to how they may react and hide them from themselves because they are afraid of the outcome.

Love:

Discusses the dangers of dating without purpose as it leads to people panicking then settling down when they suddenly hit 30 with people they don’t actually like and are not compatible with. The dangers of cohabiting are mentioned and how it elongates dead relationships because people don’t realize they’re no made for each other until a long time after and sometimes have to stay due to signing a long term tenancy agreement.  It also talks about the big five personalities: openness, conscientiousness, extraverison, agreeables, neuroticism. These personalities give you an idea of how you react in different situations.  It also states the obvious, good sex and your partner being attractive isn’t a good reason to stay with them.

“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are but how you deal with incompatibility.”

Leo Tolstoy, Writer

The brain and the body:

Spoke about how the brain is still developing in your twenties and the sheer panic people face entering their first job after university, something I related too when doing my placement. Also says  How employed 20 year olds are happier than their unemployed counterparts. How being in  a relationship can make you feel more secure and responsible and although being single is glorified in the press it doesn’t particularly feel so good. My favourite part of this section was the talk about managing fertility. Fertility peaks in your late twenties but starts to decline at thirty and thirty-five because the woman’s ability to carry a baby to full term decreases, meaning miscarriages become more likely and eggs have trouble implanting due to hormones. Fertility in men also declines as older sperm is associated with neurocognitive problems in children such as autism, schizophrenia, dyslexia and lower intelligence overall.  Which is why it is important for both sexes to think about their fertility.

“When we try to do something new we don’t know what we’re doing. that’s the biggest challenge”

Jeffrey Kalmikoff, Designer

To summarize:

The overall messages I got from reading this book are:

  1. It is better to start divulging into new experiences now than wait until your thirty to start doing new things because contrary to popular belief. Thirty is not the new twenty. There is a big difference between having a life at thirty and starting it at thirty.
  2. Life will not stop for you. Time will keep going, your friends will keep going, so you need to get going and  start working towards your future.

 
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How to achieve your goals

2017 is finally upon us and a new year means new goals.  Unlike the previous uncompleted new year resolutions, this year will be different.

We will achieve what we said we will, once we stay focused.

I created this infographic to encourage you to stay focused on what you want.

goals-again

 

  1. Set clear goals
    • Whatever your goal is, it has to be clearly defined. You need to know the exact outcome of what you want.
  2. Ensure your goals are S.M.A.R.T
    • S.M.A.R.T goals are : Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Sensitive
    • Specific: What exactly do I want to accomplish?
    • Measurable: How will I know when I have completed it?
      How can I track my progress?
    • Attainable:Is it attainable? Can I achieve it with the resources I have?
    • Relevant: Is this goal important to me? What will completing it do for me? Is now the right time to do it?
    • Time Sensitive: When do I want to  completion date?
    • Example of a bad smart goal:
      • I want to become a better saver this year
    • Example of good smart goals:
      • I want to save £3000 by December so I will save £250 every month
  3. Write your goals down
    • This will act as a reminder and help you concentrate
  4. Research the actions required to achieve what you want
  5. Split the actions into smaller tasks
    • This will make it seem less daunting and give yourself dates to complete it by.
  6. Plan and prioritize your time wisely.
  7. Use a vision board to help visualize your success.
    • A vision board is a collection of images  and texts that are related to what YOU want in life.  You can create a vision board for each specific goal or for a collection of goals.
  8. Execute your plan
    • Do what you said you would.
  9. Regularly review your progress to check if you are still on track 
  10. Stay motivated
    • Don’t give up!

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Accountability and the art of failing to prepare.

 By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin

Whenever I want to be really  lazy and avoid doing major things  I remember the above quote. It’s so simple yet so true, by not preparing for something you are setting yourself up for failure.  Emphasis on “you”.

So many people don’t prepare for things which are paramount to their success like assignments, interviews, creative projects…the list goes on. Eventually they see the fruits of their labour, complain about  how they’re not going anywhere in life and  nothing is working for them yet they’re putting little or no work in.  Even though they set themselves up for their own downfall they start blaming others for their results, don’t learn from their past and the cycle continues.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Overtime, I’ve noticed the extent of work and effort individuals think they’ve completed is  repeatedly embellished in their minds. What I mean is, people are usually in denial of the amount of work they did previously and believe they put in their all, when in reality they haven’t.

People say, “I tried my best, I don’t know what went wrong” forgetting the fact they left things until last minute. Moreover, when you ask them if they did XYZ which is the necessary steps  required of them, they say “oh I couldn’t because *insert poor excuse blaming everyone else and timing here*”.  Clearly the failure to devote your time and efforts wisely has caused you to neglect your priorities. Stop blaming others and start holding yourself accountable for your own actions, it’s the only way you can move forward.

The best way to become more accountable is by remembering:

  • You are responsible for your own success.
  • Your thoughts combined with your actions control your future.
  •  If you really want something you have to get it yourself.
  • By blaming others, you’re only fooling yourself.

I think lack of accountability is caused by lack of focus because when you’re focused you have a “tunnel vision”. You don’t get distracted about what’s happening around you because your fixated on striving towards the light at the end of the tunnel.

When I was 16/17 my priorities were all over the place and any problems I had I swept under the rug because I hoped my life would sort itself out. Long story short, it didn’t.
After some sobering self-reflection following the summer after my 18th birthday I started taking responsibility for my actions because I needed things to change. I started by doing things related to my goals and ceased  waiting for life to work out on it’s own because it  evidently doesn’t. Like I said in my consistency post, “life only changes when you do.”

When I started working towards my goals and stopped making excuses for myself especially when it came to assignments/studying, I excelled. Trust me I was over the  moon—still am and I still persevere. Now, none of this would have been achieved if I didn’t take a hard look at myself and was held personally liable  for my behaviour.
If I  didn’t do this I would still be pretending everything was okay, which is what you should never do.  I know if I was as focused then as I am now, my life would be so different, but that’s the thing about hindsight  I already know the outcome of my actions and I know what I could have done differently. So I’ve stopped beating myself up over it and focused on the future because I can’t change the past .

To help me focus  I made lists in the back of my  notebooks bullet-pointing  my top  goals and when I wanted to achieve them by. This gave me a visual reminder of what I planned to do. Recently I bought a new goals journal from Paperchase  where I answer the following questions:00551484_1_1

  • What are my goals?
  • How I plan to achieve it?
  • What is my inspiration for doing it?
  •  The outcome.

I researched the things I wanted to achieve then worked from there. I prioritized my time for the things I needed to do and didn’t overwork myself by over-cramming because this can make any task daunting. Finally I was honest about what I wanted to achieve , why it was important and the consequences, so that helped me stay motivated.

Accountability, focus and failing to prepare all go hand in hand. If you lack focus you won’t hold yourself accountable for your actions as you’ll always be distracted by what’s around  you.  Concentrate on your goals and remember you are responsible for your success. Once done you will be able to drive forward and prepare for things you say you want to achieve.

 

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Quick dinner ideas

Below are a few of my favourite quick healthy dinner ideas:

  1. Grilled salmon, potatoes and mixed veg. You can add some sort of sauce or gravy to the potatoes.
  2. Chicken stew, peppers and mixed veg with it without potatoes
    (This was made for meal prep)
  3. Spicy Noodles – quick meal but  beware of  the salt content
  4. Pasta bake and salad
  5.  Cheeky 1/2 chicken, mash and corn from nandos