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BT: How do you suggest they track their progress toward their future goals? Are milestones like 21 and 30 important? (来源:http://www.EnglishCN.com)


MJ: Absolutely. Milestones--21, 25, 30, New Year's, birthdays, reunions--are important because they trigger self-reflection. Am I where I wanted to be by this age? Did I do what I said I would do this year? If not, why not. And if not now, when? A savvy 20something who interviewed me recently told me about a question she was advised to ask herself as she moved through adulthood: "If you keep living your life exactly as it is, where will you be in 3 years?" If you don't like the answer, now is the time to change course.

MJ:没错。21岁、25岁、30岁、新年、生日、团聚日——这些都是里程碑时刻,因为它们能促人反思。到了这个年纪,我有没有处在自己想处的位置?我年初的计划完成了没?如果没完成,原因又是什么?如果现在不完成,那么什么时候可以完成?最近有个很有悟性的、20出头的女孩采访我,她告诉我,有人建议她在这几年中反复扪心自问:“如果你保持着今天的生活状态,3年后的你会是什么样子?” 如果得到的答案并不是你所喜欢的,那么现在就是洗心革面的时候。

One way to keep yourself honest about the future is by making a timeline. At what age would I like to be out of this dead-end job? By when do I hope to be married? How old do I want to be when I try for my first child? It may not be cool to have a timeline, or to admit to having a timeline, but you don't have to etch it in stone. It's just a way of thinking about how your life might, or might not, be adding up.


BT: About 25% of recent grads are unemployed, and 25% are underemployed. What is your advice for those who simply can't find a job?


MJ: Yes, half of 20somethings are un- or underemployed. But half aren't, so my first piece of advice is to figure out how to get yourself into that group. Most often, the way to do this is through what is called "the strength of weak ties." The strength of weak ties is from sociologist Mark Granovetter's work on social networks. What he found was that new information and opportunities usually come from outside of our inner circle. That foot-in-the-door at the company where you want to work isn't going to come from your best friends--your strong ties--or you would already be working there. That job lead is going to come from weak ties, or from people you hardly know. Email your aunt's neighbor or that old professor or your roommate's friend from college.

MJ:没错,大约一半的20出头年轻人不是找不到工作,就是找不到称心如意的。但也有一半的人找到了。所以,我第一个建议是:想想自己怎么能从这一半跳到那一半的梯队中。通常来讲,要实现这一点,“弱关系的力量”很重要。所谓的“弱关系”是社会学家Mark Granovetter在研究社交网络时提出来的。他发现最新的信息和机会往往来自那些你最亲密人以外的圈子里。假如你想去某家公司工作,这个职业机会绝对不会来自你的挚友(即强关系),否则你早就进去工作了不是么。这个工作机会很可能来自弱关系,或者来自那些你几乎不认识的人。所以,给你大姨的邻居、学校里的老教授、或是大学室友的朋友发个邮件吧,说不定你就得到这份工作了。

That's how people are getting jobs--especially good jobs--even in a tough economy. Most 20somethings hate the idea of asking outsiders for favors, but those who won't do this fall behind those who will. 20somethings who sit on the sidelines because of a bad economy will never catch up with those who figured out how to get in the game.


For those 20somethings who already have jobs but who are underemployed, it is crucial to remember that not all underemployment is the same. Be sure you have a job that is allowing you to earn some form of identity capital. Maybe you have a low-rung job at a hot company that adds value to your resume. Whatever you're doing should make the next thing you'd like to try seem more possible.


BT: How can 20somethings reclaim their status as adults given all the cultural trends working against them?


MJ: Don't let culture trivialize your life and work and relationships. Don't hang out only with people who are drinking the 30-is-the-new-20 kool-aid. I cannot tell you how many emails I have received from 30somethings since The Defining Decade came out, ones in which the writer says something like, "I used to roll my eyes at my peers who were determined to meet benchmarks--graduate school, real relationships, decent-paying jobs that reflect their interests--on time or early. Now I'm envious and admiring of them. Now I'm working twice as hard for half the result." Don't shrug your shoulders and say, "I'm in my 20s. What I'm doing doesn't count." Recognize that what you do, and what you don't do, will have an enormous impact across years and even generations. You're deciding your life right now.

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·生命中的五个球 Five Balls of Life

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