Question box #1

When I think about the future, what I wish... for myself

Photo: Jefferey Erhunse


When asked to think about the future, the majority of the youth focus more on intangible aspirations: personal happiness, success, and a rich social life are the principle themes to emerge. These aspirations are expressed in the form of an instructive and surprising variety of themes, with nearly 170 different topics addressed. However, basic needs, such as health (4%) or life stability (5%), are mentioned relatively rarely.

Global learnings

When they think about their future, young people place particular emphasis on fulfillment and happiness. Indeed, 85% of them prioritize happiness, success, and rewarding social relationships. Almost a quarter of them express wishes directly linked to personal satisfaction, personal achievement, joy, and hope.

Success, whose definition is a profoundly personal matter, comes second, and is mentioned by 20% of the participants. Both professional and academic success are often mentioned, with particular regard to a fulfilling, meaningful career. Young people dream of many different professions, some involving service to others such as doctor, teacher, lawyer, soldier, others turned more towards the sciences as engineer, researcher and still others inspired by public figures they admire like artists, top athletes, politicians.

Material aspects, including financial stability, are mentioned by 12% of participants, who aspire to financial security in order to be stress-free and independent, and, in some cases, rich. Acquiring things like property or a vehicle does get mentioned, but it is a fairly weak signal as fewer than 450 contributions were connected with the idea of ownership.

The importance of human relationships is emphasized in many of the answers. Young people want to build themselves a rich and rewarding social life (10%), surrounded by their family and friends. While some see themselves living as part of a community, others just hope not to have to live alone.

In their answers to this question, the young people also brought to the fore the expectations they put on themselves. In addition to success (mentioned by 20% of them), they want to become better, more independent people: more confident, more courageous and more genuine (8% in total). Ambition, through the idea of “achievement,” is strongly represented, in the form of hoping to reach their goals, to realize their dreams, and to improve their lives (8% in total). In addition, 6% of participants direct their intentions towards a search for purpose, expressing their desire to have a positive impact on the world. What is more, they outline the better world to which they aspire, featuring efforts towards environmental protection, peace, equality, and an absence of racism and other kinds of discrimination.

Two aspects of health are raised: physical health (7% of participants) and mental well-being (6% of participants). Some seek a balanced life so that they can live without stress, while others more specifically target managing their feelings better, including fear, stress, and anxiety.

Despite the question being focused on the self, some respondents talked about the global environment. They want to help make the world a better place and they also want to explore it, by travelling or living abroad (4% altogether).

Overview of the main themes

You will find below a graph in which you can navigate to learn more about the themes brought by the participants. Each theme (also called “cluster”) relates to an idea expressed by participants. There are two types of clusters: macro-clusters, which relate to more general categories, and sub-clusters, which break down the ideas into finer detail and are attached to macro-clusters. The percentages displayed correspond to the number of participants who have written about this theme among all participants who answered the question. For readability, only clusters cited by more than 1% of participants are displayed.

The representation below is dynamic: tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters.

Differences between world regions

Reflecting regional aspirations: from western happiness to global success

Already, in this very first question, we can pick out lexical fields that differ significantly between what might be called the West (which, in our sample, includes North America and Western Europe, from north to south) and the rest of the world. This tendency is maintained more or less throughout the consultation.

It is worth noting that the theme of personal happiness, which includes joy, being satisfied with life and having fun, very much prevails in North America and Europe. By contrast, in all other regions of the globe, it is personal success that takes the forefront, particularly in professional or academic terms, or quite simply to make one’s parents proud.

The triptych of success – happiness – financial situation is nevertheless found worldwide, with one notable exception: Sub-Saharan Africa, where the youth are more interested in concepts that are not brought out as much in the rest of the world, such as a search for purpose, achievement, and personal development.

Personal development, which covers the ambition to become a better person, toacquire independence or to learn more, only reaches the top five in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, professional aspirations are ranked in the top five in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as in South Asia.

Physical health, meanwhile, only seems to be a major concern in the West.

Tap or click on the boxes to see the clusters in detail. You can also use the filters to compare regions.

Some remarquable answers from the entire world

Woman, 21China
Lire plus
Most importantly, I plan to set up an education funding scheme when my company’s profitability stabilized. This funding is set up for encouraging Asian young people who have already stuck in a university at least 2 years, dare to dream big to start over again abroad but lack of money, which has the same situation as me 3 months ago. It may be a little bit difficult for people grown up in western culture to understand; In Asia, the timeline of the whole society is clear and fixed, for example, 18-year-old for college, 22-year-old for a job, 24-year-old for a married life and so on. Asian society has quite low tolerance for people to live an uncommon life; therefore, if I could offer people who decide to discard the sociocultural cage to live their own life, it would definitely encourage plenty of young Asian people.
Woman, 25Zambia
Lire plus
I wish to fall in love deeply..with someone deserving of my love.. someone who loves me fully, I want a love that takes midnight coffee by the fireplace...late night drives to our favorite dinner karaoke bar,a love that has cooking competitions, game nights and slow music dances, a love that holds hands, cuddles and throws in sweet kisses even public, a love that doesn't criticize but corrects ..a love that always learns each other's interests and support each other financial and spiritual..a love that motivates and grows into a beautiful existence. I wish I find that love.i will be the most blessed girl of my generation with a love like that.
Man, 23Egypt
Lire plus
I wish to be an influential individual in society, to have a real and clear influence on a person, group, village or city, which is a wonderful thing, to have the ability to help everyone, and to have what helps me to do so, and to provide a safe environment for my family and friends, and to I am one of the influential people in my field. I hope that I will not be imitating in my thinking and work, and that I will be in a position that helps me spread my ideas, which people who deal with me usually say are innovative and influential.
Man, 29Nigeria
Lire plus
I wish for myself to be one of the greatest psychologists the world has ever seen. I wish to found an institute where I help orient youth about drugs, drug abuse and mental health related issues for free. Where I and a huge team of other serious minded psychologists come around to conduct researches to solve mental health challenges. It's a pity I live in a country where I may not live to fulfill this dream. The future is bleak. I am still struggling to fix my own mental health and I am receiving close to no help. I wish everything good will come.
Man, 18Bangladesh
Lire plus
Climate change is one of the biggest problems in the world today. Although this climate change is not a relative problem today, it may be the sole cause of all our geopolitical problems in the future. Therefore, my “future dream” is to inform about the harmful effects of climate change in my own area, my country and if possible to all countries and to find ways to reduce its impact and to try my best to solve it.
Man, 27Madagascar
Lire plus
When I think of the future, what I wish is that I would be the first person that the "Green Peace" project will bring to Madagascar. Because Madagascar is a unique and beautiful island that is home to a great diversity of endemic flora and fauna. Unfortunately, this biodiversity is threatened by environmental degradation due to unsustainable use of natural resources, deforestation, pollution and climate change. Yet there is hope for Madagascar's future, thanks to initiatives to promote sustainable development and preserve the environment.
Woman, 23France
Lire plus
I wish to make a difference and impact as much as possible. I wish to have a job where I can be proud at myself at the end of the day, a job that will help accelerate the ecological and social transitions. I hope to find solutions in my daily life to reduce my footprint on the environment, to educate as many people as possible to do the same, to show them that making these choices does not only make sense ecologically, but also economically and socially.
Woman, 18Brazil
Lire plus
I wish to be successful in my own criteria. In other words that would be having my family and a job that provides me freedom and many different experiences, like travelling, and a diversity of tasks. I would also like to aggregate something in the world, it could be an innovation, fighting for someone’s rights or influencing people.
Man, 19Mexico
Lire plus
It is to help improve my country to create a better quality of life, develop a better country, raise the quality of people, improve infrastructure, raise the quality of life of people in poverty through infrastructure and the health sector through clinics and hospitals, improving schools.
Man, 28South Korea
Lire plus
I wish to continue growing personally and professionally, challenging myself to learn and explore new opportunities. I hope to maintain a balance between my work, personal growth, and time with my loved ones, fostering a life rich in experiences and meaningful connections.
Woman, 28USA
Lire plus
I want to live in a society where we don't place emphasis on the color of our skin. I don't want to be worried about being discriminated against or having others think that I'm discriminating against them based on how they look.

Interviews from all over the world