Building Identity Capital: Exploration vs. Procrastination

This video is a summary of why I write this blog. I feel that so many college-graduates waste time – by working for a job that doesn’t fit them, neglecting to maintain their network, etc. – because they feel that they have an indefinite supply of it.

There’s two points from this video I wanted to highlight: building identity capital and the differentiation between exploration and procrastination.

In her speech, Meg Jay mentions that in order to prevent or overcome an identity crisis, you need to build identity capital. Identity capital are things that “adds value to who you are” and “an investment to who you want to be next”. This might come in the form of friends who have a clear career path or a volunteer opportunity that relates to a job you might want to try out. And sure, you might not exactly know who it is that you want to be right now, but leveraging capital you already have is much easier than gaining capital from scratch. So go out there and grab any capital you can – even if you’re not 100% sure you’ll benefit from it in the future.

The other point Meg mentioned was the difference between exploration and procrastination. Keeping yourself busy might feel beneficial because you’re exploring new things, but if it doesn’t benefit you or add value to the next step, then you’re just procrastinating from what you really need to achieve.

If your life is a building, then your 20’s is the foundation. The longer you delay on building that foundation, the less grandiose your life work is going to be.


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  2. Anonymous · · Reply

    You say “The longer you delay on building that foundation, the less grandiose your life work is going to be.” I think that it is important to frame this statement correctly within the culture it comes from – because this is dripping with cultural assumptions. This is an extremely western prospective, and as a prospective it is only an opinion – not a fact. All of culture is merely a reaction to nature – and as mere reaction it is only one perspective, not a declaration of truth.
    Having said that, it is great that you look to build up your career and achieve lots by building your own foundation, however you should also agree that not all 20 somethings who enjoy their life “careerless” are procrastinating. In response to that TED video I give you this TED video ( which I hope gives more perspective on my own cultural viewpoint – not to start the battle of the TED videos – haha!

    1. First off, thanks so much for the insightful comment and the great Ted video! I feel like it adds a very relevant layer to the argument. So, let me try to incorporate the role of culture into my original post regarding building identity capital.

      I still stand by my statement that everyone should start building the foundation of identity capital. However, to your point, that foundation is not necessarily going to be built solely through your career. What builds a identity foundation for each individual person is an independent assessment based on personality, culture and personal experiences. I can’t speak for Dr. Meg Jay, but I think it may be safe to say that she and I do not assume that all activities that build identity capital must be related to career building.

      For example, I currently have two friends who left what most people would consider “successful” jobs to travel the world for a year. So, currently, they’re technically “careerless”. Does that mean that the time they spend is procrastination? Absolutely not. The time they spend on figuring out who they are is definitely considered exploration of who they are and their purpose in life. On the other hand, someone who built a career that doesn’t fit their interests or desires has been procrastinating the entire time.

      So yes, your culture and perspectives determine how you should go about building identity capital, and which activities qualify as procrastination vs. exploration. But I do believe that you should spend time on the exploration part rather than procrastinating.

      Feel free to leave more comments!


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