Teenagers who have ambitious dreams are more successful in life

Teenagers who have ambitious dreams are more successful in life

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    “What do I want to do when I grow up?” This is a question that many teenagers ask themselves. While the answers vary, an Icelandic-American study states that young people who aim to pursue prestigious studies tend to be more successful in life.

    The authors of this study, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, arrived at this conclusion after following the evolution of two cohorts of young Icelanders over twelve years, from late adolescence to early adulthood. They wanted to see if their personal aspirations changed over the years, and if this had an impact on their future academic and professional success. “Life goals are likely to change over time and these changes are likely to have consequences for future life prospects, including professional ones” says Rodica Damian, associate professor of psychology at the University of Houston, in a statement.

    It has become apparent that some youthful dreams stand up to the test of time more than others. Thus, aspirations linked to family, social relationships and a sense of community remain very strong over time. Participants who, when they were young, wanted to maintain good relationships with their family throughout their lives were still driven by the same desire as adults. In some cases, these desires have even strengthened over time.

    Furthermore, Rodica Damian and her colleagues noted that adolescents’ goals in terms of education and social prestige are very strong predictors of success. In other words, young people who dreamed of succeeding in school or having a good career were more likely to have their wishes granted as adults. “Adolescents who set ambitious goals in terms of prestige and education tend to have better educational attainment and higher income twelve years later. They demonstrate more creativity professionally, and practice a more prestigious and complex profession“, underlines Rodica Damian in the same press release.

    In other words, we must encourage young people to have big dreams when they grow up. But be careful that they do not have unrealistic educational and professional aspirations. A study, published in 2022 in the European Economic Review, says this could do them more harm than good. Too ambitious professional goals can indeed lead to disappointments.