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 financial stability (5%), are mentioned relatively rarely.
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
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