When a young person’s plans for the future includes both family and career, the outcome is more likely to be success in all areas, especially if he or she is confident in these goals, say researchers at Penn State.
“I’m really interested in career development, but also how that interacts with family life,” says Bora Lee, Ph.D., postdoctoral scholar, human development and family studies. “I was interested in how adolescents weighed their goals within work and family domains.”
For the study, researchers pulled data from the Youth Development Study, which included responses from 995 teens, at ages 14 to 15 and again at 17 to 18 years old, to questions about anticipated future importance of career and family, as well as the respondents’ self-efficacy beliefs about these goals.
The rating of “self-efficacy beliefs” was a measure of the students’ confidence that they would achieve a future family or career goal.
Then, as adults aged 35 to 36 years old, the same subjects responded to questions regarding their “perceived success in work life” and “perceived success in family life.” The researchers used a statistical approach to sort respondents into groups based on the relative importance they assigned to work and family goals, and their belief that they would achieve these goals.
The analysis also indicated how likely people were to move from one group to another over time. The findings showed that teens were likely to shift their family and work goals from ages 14 to 15 to ages 17 to 18 — but that one-third of those who had a similar interest in both work and family goals retained this feeling over time.
“The biggest group was people who placed relatively high importance on both work and family,” said Lee. “Almost half of the adolescents said that work and family are both important for me, and also that it is pretty highly likely that I can achieve these goals.”
In fact, confidence in meeting goals was the key factor to success.
“Those who do show more confidence about achieving their goal were also more likely to achieve those goals in young adulthood,” said Lee.
“So those who placed a lot of importance on work and family and had very high confidence in those were more likely to report that they felt successful in work than other people.”
The study is published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.
Source: Penn State