‘Identity Capital’

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14th Jan 2024

The phrase was popularized by Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, in her 2012 book, ‘The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — And How to Make the Most of Them Now’  where she talks of ‘Identity capital’ as “anything you do that adds value to who you are.

It is how we spend our time and invest in ourselves not just as professionals but as people too.”

A person builds their identity capital through experiences, and that being unique makes one more valuable — traveling, learning languages, taking reprieves from social media, and advocating for causes you care about are all examples she gives.

She defines identity capital as “our collection of personal assets, both tangible and intangible. It is the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time – the currency we use to metaphorically purchase jobs and relationships.”

In other words, it is what we do to invest in ourselves. It’s about owning up to your choices and becoming the person you want to be.

Some ‘Identity capital’ goes on a résumé, 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, and how we look.

Meg Jay advises that in your twenties, take the job with the most identity capital. It’s easy to get lost focusing on your degree and job, but remember that other forms of identity capital, such as your network, how you solve problems, and how you speak can accelerate your path to where you want to be. Instead of working right out of college, you might travel the world for a year.

In doing so, perhaps you lose a year of income and experience in the workforce, but you gain a new ability to connect with and relate to others that will serve you throughout your career. Taking an identify-capital-focused lens can help you make decisions that might seem risky or unconventional in the moment, but yield unexpected fruit.

Dr Meg Jay also did a TED talk, where she offered twenty-somethings a piece of advice—to invest in “Identity capital.”

I feel this point applies to people of all ages. One of the best gifts you can give yourself is to learn more about yourself and invest in building value for yourself.

This Sunday, at the start of this wonderful year, work at building your Identity Capital and Stay blessed Forever.