My Reality Check Bounced

Book Review by Lakeisha Moore Mathews

Dorsey, Jason, R., My Reality Check Bounced: The Gen-Y Guide to Cashing in on Your Real-World Dreams. Broadway Books, 2007.


Jason Dorsey had the crowd in stitches this summer at the 2010 NCDA Career Development Conference in San Francisco. As one of the keynote speakers, Dorsey, also known as The Gen Y Guy, spoke about the generational differences present in today’s workforce. Specifically, he focused on the experiences of Gen Y compared to more mature generations. I learned a great deal in the session including the fact that I belong to Gen Y, according to Dorsey’s categorization of birth dates. Though I disagreed initially, as the keynote session progressed it became evident that I am in fact a part of Gen Y. The confirmation came when Mr. Dorsey’s joke about carbon copy machines went over my head. Why? Because I have no clue what a carbon copy machine is (maybe I will use Wikipedia to find out). In a nutshell, Jason Dorsey spent an hour accurately describing the twenty-somethings I advise every day, shedding light on their hopes, dreams and frustrations. Naturally, I decided to pick up a copy of his book My Reality Check Bounced: the Gen Y Guide to Cashing in on Your Real World Dreams.


My Reality Check Bounced did not disappoint. Instead of complaining about the way the Gen Y generation approaches the world of work, I recommend every career counselor, regardless of age, pick up a copy of the book and gain strategies on helping this unique generation succeed. Just because it’s hard to sympathize with Gen Y’s way of being, doesn’t mean you cannot empathize.


Overview of My Reality Check Bounced

My Reality Check Bounced opens with a “reality checkup assessment” that helps the reader put their career reality into perspective. Throughout the book, Dorsey exhorts Gen Y to find their place of authenticity. Moreover, he shares many personal testimonies that can help any reader find inspiration to fix what is wrong in their career. Each chapter contains a thought-provoking quote from Dorsey, a case-study of a young professional struggling to find the right career path, and ends with a summarization of main points including attitudes that must “bounce” for the reader to “cash in” on their goals. Career counselors will find Dorsey’s accounts of coaching frustrated twenty-somethings useful in increasing their own toolkit of strategies for helping young professionals.


Chapter Reviews

Targeted to young professionals, My Reality Check Bounced contains twelve information packed chapters. Below you will find a snapshot of the chapters I found extremely helpful for empathizing with and advising Gen Y.


  • Chapter 2 – Break Free

Break Free focuses on helping young professionals identify the future that they really want. Dorsey encourages readers to create a “Future Picture” in an attempt to identify their real interests, passions and goals. Career Counselors have been using visualization and imagery in counseling for years to help clients redirect their paths and clarify values. Mr. Dorsey reminds us that visualization activities can be powerful clarifying moments for young professionals unhappy in their current jobs or unable to determine a career path.


  • Chapter 3 – Light Your Fire

In Light Your Fire, Dorsey gives young professionals the matches and matchbook needed to ignite their passions. He insightfully notes that many Gen Y career seekers do not know what they are passionate about, which is the real problem behind their lack of fulfillment. To help overcome this barrier, Dorsey provides eleven challenging assignments to help even the most disillusioned career seeker get off the sidelines and back in the career game. Career Counselors can pick relevant assignments and suggest them to clients who have given up on their dreams.


  • Chapter 4 – Unleash Opportunity

Unleash Opportunity is a powerful chapter in which Dorsey tears down the notion of opportunity knocking at your door and asserts that opportunity must be found. Dorsey goes a step further and tackles a big hurdle many young professionals struggle with – being open to multiple options and not limiting their own choices. He calls this mindset the “Opportunity Radar.” Career Counselors will find this positive-thinking strategy helpful for many of their clients. However, clients who struggle with low-self esteem or similar presenting issues may need help in adopting a “go getter” attitude.


  • Chapter 8 – Check Your Excuses at the Door

Check Your Excuses at the Door challenges the reader to focus on solutions and possibilities. Dorsey provides a hearty list of excuses that twenty-somethings often bring up in sessions. He then counters each excuse, showing that there is always a solution waiting to be found. Career professionals may find Dorsey’s solution-focused techniques helpful to encourage twenty-somethings to become action-oriented and go after their passions.


  • Chapter 9 – The Fear Factor

Though young professionals will never admit it, Dorsey brings the reader face-to-face with their number one crippling fear – fear itself. He challenges twenty-somethings to face their fears if they ever want to find fulfillment. He also discusses the roles that failures can play in future successes.


My Reality Check Bounced reads like a solid self-help book. The personal testimony Dorsey shares of his own rise from obscurity to success is enough to convince any twenty-something that with a little planning and self-development, you really can live your passions. The book even includes a list of other books Dorsey titles, specifically “twenty-one books to inspire twenty-somethings”, fourteen organizations to consider joining for professional development, and a discussion guide. In closing, Dorsey provides an easy read that will inspire young professionals and equip career counselors to effectively assist Gen Y with their career goals and struggles.



Lakeisha MathewsLakeisha Moore Mathews, M.S., GCDF, CPRW, serves as the Assistant Director and Liaison for Alumni and Graduate Students at The Career Center at Loyola University, Maryland. She is currently the President-elect and the National Career Development Month state representative for the Maryland Career Development Association. Lakeisha has over 10 years of experience in higher education spanning various areas of college student personnel including resident life, orientation, academic advising and of course, career services.  

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