Which of the following goals is most important to you?

alesnick's picture


Rae Hamilton's picture


Although the reason I am going to school is because I want to make money, I want to make money so I can support my little brother so that he may also go to college. At the end of the day material goods dont matter-- yes its nice to have a mansion, yet whats the point of having one if you cant fill with the people you care about. In other words, I would rather have a broken laptop then a broken friendship. Yet I understand people whose prime motivation is money. As a wise men once said, money cant buy happiness, but I would rather cry in a Ferrari

meggiekate's picture

My most important goal is to

My most important goal is to lead a life that is filled with purpose and love for others. I think to achieve this goal, I'll need some combination of all the options, but in varying amounts. For instance, having a lot money would certainly make life much easier but isn't necessary (I'm not saying money isn't necessary because it is in our economy, but that having a lot of it isn't necessary). Also, what do others think "a good job" is? For me, having a good job means that you're financially stable and mentally and emotionally fulfilled by it. If I were to have a job that paid me a ton of money, but didn't give me any purpose or fulfillment, I would say that I have a bad job. I suppose that out of the named options, love/family would be the most important to me. If I achieved all the others but had no love, family, or friends in my life, I would be very depressed and not value my life. That's not to say that the other options are worthless - they're not. They're all valuable, but for my life they are useless without love and purpose. 

jrschwartz15's picture

My vote was for being

My vote was for being educated. I define education as awareness and understanding- not just degrees and textbooks. This definition encompasses both experience and instruction. Without engaging with your surroundings, the other options (which were primarily materialistic) do not serve much of a purpose. Being unengaged and unaware means you cannot fully appreciate those choices of jobs or family or at least not as profoundly as if you were engaged and aware.

kganihanova's picture

I voted Love/Family

I voted love/family because at the end of the day the people you're going to go to are going to be your friends and family. No matter how close I get to a professor, there isn't going to exist the same bond that I can have between myself and a friend.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Love/family is the my most

Love/family is the my most important goal. When I am around people that I love I feel most complete and the happiest. Loving that much completely erases any need for material gain whether as money or goods. Although I value education, it has never been my most important goal and probably never will be, purely because I believe I can learn obtain happiness through love and family even if I never went to college at all. I think the way the question was phrased made a big decision in my answer. Even though it reads whats most important to you? I saw it what is important is happiness, and which of these answers will ultimately find me the most rewarding sense of happiness in my life.

jccohen's picture

I voted other because...

my highest priority is to be as fully present as possible in and for all of those aspects of life--love and family, education and work, including those things that can be bought with money.

lijia577's picture

To be educated and why

I feel education means something really special to me so I choose to be educated.

On the one hand, "To be educated" is not narrowly defined as getting a diploma or going to college: I integrate the process of learning inside it, that's to say, everything I have learned in those 18yrs. In this way, the education I obtained is actually a part of me. Well-educated people normally get good jobs and some of them can make a lot of money through it. Meanwhile, since well-educated people normally are considerate and conscious, which means they deserve the love from others. Most importantly, one can't be educated without having a nice family since parents are usually the first teachers of each kid. In this way, I think "to be educated" is very important to me, not only because it can guarantee many things but also it is such a significant portion of an individual. On the other hand, education shapes one's thoughts as well as one's perspective toward the world. I feel like education can help me become a better thinker in a way that I starts to fully appreciate things around me, even teach me how to love and be loved.


Utitofon's picture

My most important goal is to

My most important goal is to live a happy, unselfish and purposeful life. For me having the love of a family is not a goal i hope to attain, because i have always enjoyed the love and support of a large network of family and friends. If the poll meant starting my own family, then that's a goal, but not my most important as matrimony is not a guarantee for happiness and child rearing is a 21 year project that could turn either turn out well or awry even with a parent's best effort.

I am not particularly interested in making Forbes millionaire or billionaire list. I just want to live a comfortable existence, have a fulfilling job that gives me enough money to cater to my needs and express my love to my family, but also gives me time to savor life to the full. It can be taken for granted that if one has a good job, then one is making enough to make ends meet. So option A  can be viewed as a part of option C. Yet, I need some form of education, formal or informal to get option C.  In fact, It is hard to explicitly define what it means to be educated. A number of people feel that to be really educated you have to attain the peak of the academic ladder, but at this moment, i have not the slightest desire to keep climbing that ladder after Bryn Mawr. Education is a means to an end, not the end itself and I have so many other things on my bucket list. Therefore, because of its open-ended nature, i could not go for option B.

Since these goals are kinda intertwined and are all useful in varying degrees  to achieving my most important goal - attaining happiness/self fulfillment, i decided to go with 'other'.


MVW1993's picture

Very Similar Responses!

We have very similar responses to this post, so it seems fitting that I post mine with yours. I really agree with the idea that not only are all of these goals intertwined with one another, they are also very tied to happiness. I wrote a lot about this as well (see below).

I chose the “other” option for this poll because I feel that being happy is my most important goal in life and that this encompasses a majority of the other options. I feel that if I am living my life with purpose, pursuing that which I enjoy doing, and living my life to the fullest, focusing on the happiness of all of the good moments, the other options - having a good job, having love and family and being educated - will naturally follow. For example, if I choose a career that makes me happy and that I enjoy doing, I would call this “having a good job.”

It may be noticed, however, that I have excluded the option of “having money” from the list of things that will follow from living my life with the goal of happiness in mind. This is because I truly believe that money will not make me happy. I understand the concept of financial security and how important that is, but it is most definitely not the most important thing in life for me and I know that no matter how much money I have, it will never be the thing to give me happiness. I need to pursue happiness for myself and not assume that it will be handed to me with a paycheck. And thus I have made my goal in life to be happy, and I assume, albeit naively or idealistically, that by living positively, selflessly, happily and by pursing what makes me happy, the other necessities of life will naturally follow.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Very Similar Responses!

I have a very similar response to this poll so it seems fitting that I post it along with yours. I really agree with your idea that many of the options are intertwined with one another and with the idea that happiness is intertwined with all of these ideas as well.

This is my response to the poll:
I chose the “other” option for this poll because I feel that being happy is my most important goal in life and that this encompasses a majority of the other options. I feel that if I am living my life with purpose, pursuing that which I enjoy doing, and living my life to the fullest, focusing on the happiness of all of the good moments, the other options - having a good job, having love and family and being educated - will naturally follow. For example, if I choose a career that makes me happy and that I enjoy doing, I would call this “having a good job.”
It may be noticed, however, that I have excluded the option of “having money” from the list of things that will follow from living my life with the goal of happiness in mind. This is because I truly believe that money will not make me happy. I understand the concept of financial security and how important that is, but it is most definitely not the most important thing in life for me and I know that no matter how much money I have, it will never be the thing to give me happiness. I need to pursue happiness for myself and not assume that it will be handed to me with a paycheck. And thus I have made my goal in life to be happy, and I assume, albeit naively or idealistically, that by living positively, selflessly, happily and by pursing what makes me happy, the other necessities of life will naturally follow.

Michaela's picture


I chose love/family, because, although I don't think that getting married and having babies should be a woman's only goal in life, I do think that it's important. Of course I want to get educated and get a job before I settle down--that's why I'm here, at Bryn Mawr. But I think it's actually sort of anti-feminist to say that a woman can't want to find love or dedicate time to raising children if she's serious about her work. Yes, work can be very satisfying, for both men and women, and it is very important to me to get into doing something I love (hopefully journalism!). But if I attain my dream career, I want to be able to share my happiness with someone. It's hokey, and it's been said too many times before, but happiness means much more if you have someone to share it with. It's not only a husband or children that I would want, but I love talking to my mom, my sister, my cousin, etc. I want to get an education, a job, make money, all of that. But, when I really think about it, I'd rather continue to have a great relationship with the family I already have (and with one I might create some day) if I really had to choose. That said, I don't think we necessarily do!

gfeliz's picture


This question was very difficult to answer because I feel as though all of the options were equally acceptable answers. I think what’s important to note is that there is no correct answer to this poll. If I could, I would’ve voted more than once. I think my impulse answer was to choose “to be educated” was the most important goal to me—but then as I continued to think about it, I realized that without the love and support of my family I would not be where I am today. I think that all of the options are connected. However, I strongly believe that love/family is the basis of reaching other goals such as “to have money”, “to be educated”, and “to have a good job.” I think that the love we get from our families is what gets us to become educated. Once we’re educated then we can get a good job and make money. But for example, money can’t buy you love or a family and life itself is a learning process. We educate ourselves everyday by just living. My family is the reason why I work so hard; they are the most important part of my life. Without the love of my family I would be so lost. 

Serena's picture

I chose love/family. As I've

I chose love/family. As I've said in a previous posting, I am devoted to my mother, whose sacrifices have made me who I am today and gave me the opportunities that I've had. If it weren't for her, I probably would really care about going to college and I certainly wouldn't care about making money or what job I had. She is my motivation - it is because of her that I can drag myself out of my occasional moodiness and continue doing what I know I must do. My ultimate goal in life is to repay her by any means possible.

melal's picture

I am not good at choosing.

I am not good at choosing. Sometime I have to admit that I am afraid of choosing. To have money, to have a good job, and love and family, all these are really important for me! I think actually the most important goal for me, is trying to make ourselves be happy, and also to make the people around me be happy. I know if I want to achieve this goal, I need to be educated, I need to have a good job, I  need to have decent amount of money for my life, and of course I need  to be loved and give my love to other people. Actually these four choices intertwine with each other in a way. Let’s start with the first one: to have money.  Money Matters for me, a lot. I need money to be educated. I know that without money, I wouldn’t have been able to study abroad here in the States. I not only want to be educated, but also want to be better educated, to be competitive enough to find a great job after graduating. What is a good job? Different people have different definitions for it. For me, I think a good job can make me gain a sense of accomplishment, both from the salary and from the whole working process. With a good job, I will able to be financially stable then providing myself and my family a good quality of life. At different stages of my life, I have different important goals to achieve. It is really hard to say what the most important goal is for me, if I have to, I would say, happiness.

S. Yaeger's picture

I originally selected the

I originally selected the "other" option, and planned to come in and write an explanation later.  At the time, I felt like none of these things were more important to me than the other.  

I'm not so sure now though.

Now, I think I may have just been avoiding saying that the most important goal for me, right now, is love/family.  This is not to say that I don't want all the other things on the list, but to say that the driving force behind all of the work I am doing, and all the things I have given up to be here, is my desire to be able to marry my partner and expand my family.  

At the risk of being cheesy: I would not be typing this as a 32 year old college student if was not for the support of my family and my partner.  I know this may seem obvious, because who doesn't need support as they go through college.  However, the odd thing about the way my family has affected my trajectory is that it was their support that allowed me to quit school when I was traditional student aged.  Without knowing that they were going to accept me no matter what I did, I never would have taken many of the risks I took, including moving to the middle of the country for a while.  Similarly, without knowing that they, and now my partner, will still love and respect me even if I fail, I never would have quit my jobs to go back to school at this point in my life.  So, I guess, if I had to pick one goal for my life, it would be to do whatever it takes to keep that love and support going, so that I can pass it along to my own someday children.   

HSBurke's picture

I went against [what I've

I went against [what I've witnessed as] the Bryn Mawr grain and chose love/family. I found that the other choices were very individual: they would mostly contribute to an individual feeling of happiness and success. But for me, love and family goes beyond myself. My own accomplishments wouldn't be nearly as sweet as if I didn't have someone to come home to and share them with. And by having a family already in place, the money, education and job can affect and inspire more people than just yourself.

I am a people person, and I can't imagine being here at Bryn Mawr if I wasn't fortunate enough to have parents who put all of there energy into raising and loving their children. After experiencing the power of prioritizing love and family through my parents, I feel that it would be selfish and a little silly for me to choose anything else.

lijia577's picture

Freckles, I think we are

Freckles, I think we are similar parents. And I would say that my parents raise me carefully but they didn't put all their energy into it. I feel like culture capital is something really matters in my experience.

LJ's picture

My Life Goals

I chose other because for me getting an education and being apart of a family are equally important. The reason these to goals stuck out to me is most likely because my family is still a very big part of my life and since I am currently in college education is an important goal in my life. Though, I did not pick money, in the back of my head I see finishing my education as a way for me to get a decent job and make a comfortable living.  

Chandrea's picture

Switching Up My Priorities?

I was actually super annoyed that there wasn't a "Both A and C" or "All of the above" option for those of us who are notoriously indecisive. I suppose I could've picked other and said that, but that feels like I'm beating around the bush. I picked "To have a good job" as my most important goal. I think the wording of the question screwed me up a little bit. Yes, I have a family and I love them dearly, but is the poll asking me if I think finding a husband and having children of my own is my most important goal right now? Heck no, I'm only a college student! I don't know! And while family will always be an important aspect of my life, I think a lot of these options were intertwined when I contemplated my decision. I need to be educated to have a good job. If I get a good job, let's hope I make good money. And when I'm financially stable, maybe I'll think about settling down. But this poll really made me think about what my priorities are. Maybe I'm that naive college student who thinks she's going to save the world and work for a non-profit organization and that'd be a good job to me, but what will that get me? A bed and some food, at best. Sometimes we have to compromise our passions and interests for what's actually going to get us by. Talk about a reality check... But who's to say I can't say all of the above besides the poll?

Hummingbird's picture

I was also frustrated by the

I was also frustrated by the wording and the lack of options. I wanted to be able to say that love and education and career were equally important to me, but that wasn't available. I ended up picking love/family because I decided that I value my relationships with others and my interactions with friends and family more than anything else. I guess the reason I had trouble picking, though, was because I didn't want picking one to mean that I didn't value the other options. I still really value my education – and I can't think of starting a family before I'm confident that I've explored all the educational paths that I want to. I also want a steady career – that I love – before I settle. 

lijia577's picture

I am struggling with the

I am struggling with the wording too. First, I think everything in my life matters: while I choose "to be educated," I don't mean that I don't like or value my parents/ family. Meanwhile, I am not quite sure about whether to choose something that I've already had, or something will happen without any doubts.

thamid's picture

In the poll I voted “to be

In the poll I voted “to be educated” as the most important goal. I based my decision on the goal that is most important to me now. Money is not as important to me because I know after college I won’t have much. Getting a job is not very important right now because I am freshman that wants to worry about her education. My goal of being educated will eventually lead me to my other goals of having a good job and hopefully with that good job, some money, though it does not directly lead me to love and family. The dictionary defines a goal as the result or achievement toward which effort is directed. Through this definition I achieved my goal of love and family. I have a family at home that supports my education and supports my dreams. Their love helps me accomplish my goal of being educated because I know that they believe in my dreams. It is through the accomplishment of this goal that I am able to make education my most important goal right now.

alesnick's picture

goals shifting with era of life?

i appreciate how your post locates goals in the timeline of your life.

nbnguyen's picture

I don't want to vote for any certain categories

It's impossible for me to decide what's the most important goal for me right now. To have money, to be educated, to support our families are equally important to me. I do love my family so much. That's why I am very cautious and responsible with every decision I made in my life. I try to make my parents proud. However, I am not the kind of daughter who sacrifies everything to my mom and my dad. I want to pursue my dreams, I want to overcome the restrictions that family ties create, I want to marry the one I like. I know that I have my own life. Money may be not the thing I am fixated about, but I do recognize that money helps me struggle to survive. It know it would be hard to survive in the US. But I think it's much harder to struggle to survive in an underdeveloped country like Vietnam. How can you have time to think about noble purposes, about romantic love, about charity, about your passion with learning when you don't have enough food to eat, don't have money to pay for your hospital fees? Some people may, but in most cases, it would be impossible. Without money, I can't pay for my dad's medicine or afford my younger brother's tuition fees in college. Without money, how can I help other people in the society? It is would be hard to help other people when you can't even help yourselves. Being educated is also another goal in my life. Learning and thinking make my life become much more interesting. It allows me to know more about the world, improve my thinking process and mke me feel like I am smarter than I was yesterday. Knowledge is also a way which I can connect to people.Theodore Roosevelt could talk to people from different backgrounds because he was a knowledgeable man. He could talk to a farmer about farming or to a stranger about train. However, unlike some people, I go to college not only to find myself. It is very important but I do take something else into consideration. Besides studying what I like, I want to choose a practical major so I can get a good job after I graduate to support my family.

ssaludades's picture


Although I believed that in choosing education and money one can give back to one's family and contribute to one's self achievement, I also realized that there is a certain amount of loss within one's relationships that goes with committing to education and money that is not worth the sacrifice. Education and money can alienate individuals from their loved ones. In a story we read in class called “The Achievement of Desire” by Richard Rodriguez, he described that in prioritizing school, he ended up distancing himself away from his family because they weren’t as educated and could not understand or relate to his new way of thinking. In turn, they’re relationship developed into an awkward power dynamic between the educated and not educated rather than a comforting familial relationship in which both would be able to freely communicate on the same level which ended up being detrimental to their relationship. Likewise, in our summer reading book Class Matters, there was also a story in which a woman transitioned from being in a low-income family to foster care with a wealthier family. After transitioning, she was unable to feel comfortable about her life because she grew up with a “human capital”, the knowledge associated with one’s class, and thus, mindset far different from those of her wealthier classmates and peers which in this sense, made her feel alienated. Now, although these experiences may not be applicable to every relationship, imagining myself in this role of having to choose one or the other helped me recognize the importance of family/love above all else.

In the end, the whole process of choosing made me question if there were really benefits to maintaing one’s social class: do we really want social mobility? Is giving up the feeling of one's relationships and comfortability within a group comprised of people like ourselves worth sacrificing money and education for?

Serendip Visitor's picture

James Brown

I think it important to have a good job because if you want to start a family and support them you need a good job.

Anne Dalke's picture

I realized that I HATE

I realized that I HATE polls--the either/or-ness of the categories never! work! for! me!

Freud said that "Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness."

I think that's true, and so I really can't choose between them.

My work is teaching, and to do that I needed to be educated. The money doesn't matter so much.

But then I have always had other sources of money (besides what I earn myself), 
so I'm hardly qualified to say  that it doesn't matter...

In other words, I picked "other" as a way of saying "all of the above".... ;)

alesnick's picture

love and work . . . as one?

i once heard an Eastern revision of the Freudian formulation: that work is included in love, so the two cornerstones are love and rest.  

i wonder if in a sense yin and yang are also a re-vision - - maybe the different items on our poll are better understood as different ways of saying one thing, and we left out something like: stillness, quiet mind, yielding.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I chose education. I believe

I chose education. I believe that you can be more successful because with education you can get a good job where you have a chance to make more money and your family will always be there to love you.

Michaela's picture

This is an interesting take.

This is an interesting take. I hadn't thought about it that way, that if you already have a family who loves you, you can pursue other dreams without fear that you will lose them. I like this idea, because it supports my hope that you don't really need to choose between all of these important things--sometimes you can have more than one. Education is really important to me, too, and I think that, as you describe your family, mine will be there to support me throughout my attaining it.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I choose Other.

I choose this because none of these have a higher standing in my opinion. I would enjoy to choose all if I had the option. I don't want to say that my job or money has a higher standing than my family, because then that would define me as someone whom only cares for himself, selfish. I know that all have a purpose in life but in reality if you had the Option to choose between the four with all of them lined up, What will you choose

Serendip Visitor's picture

I selected love/family

I selected love/family because you can have all the money in the world, but with all that money you cant buy real love and family. You can have bought love and bought families but never the real thing. At the end of the day you and your money will be all you have.

Serendip Visitor's picture

i think that everyone who

i think that everyone who pick to have money will not the it. family comes 1st then love then education and the a job

Serendip Visitor's picture


I believe money is everything, the world moves around money. You buy your education with money, when you have a good job you make good money.

lijia577's picture

What about happiness and

What about happiness and love?

I think you might argue that people will automatically love you, or pretend that they like you simply because your money are beneficial for them. However, its money, not you.  And I think one's life would be nothing if there is just money and nothing else. Meanwhile, thinking about why particular person has a huge amount of money. It's not something happens randomly to someone. People are rich because of many reasons, which is actually more important than money itself.


Chandrea's picture

Reply to "Money"

And if my dream job doesn't pay me the big bucks, do I still get to call it a "good job"? What if you despised your job and your boss but you made a ton of money? Does that still count as a "good job"?

LJ's picture

It depends on the person.

It depends on the person. Someone who values waking up and getting excited about work would not consider this a "good job". I think society teaches us all that we need to value money. I think it's funny when parents tell their kids to follow their dreams and then when the parents realize the kids dream doesn't make them "successful" they discourage them.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I was surprise that no one

I was surprise that no one picked to be educated or to have a good job.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I chose money because you can

I chose money because you can do anything with money and with money more options open up to you.

alesnick's picture

money as freedom?

I appreciate this idea -- are you suggesting that money creates options, so with those options, that freedom, you could then pursue other goals?

Serendip Visitor's picture

Rosa Parks

I think that making money is very important. The life we live in today has everything to do with money. You need clothes, that means you need money. You need a house, that means you need money. If you want to have a child, that definitely cost money. Money is extremely important in the world we live in today.

Serendip Visitor's picture

i think family is really

i think family is really important because after all the money is gone you will have family to be there for.

LJ's picture

I agree completly that

I agree completly that without family nothing is really worth it. I never appreciated my family until I moved away to college. Now I call my mom multiple times a week just to tell her how much I love her. Living away from home has taught me how much family is such a large part of my life.

Serendip Visitor's picture

Poll Question (Aretha Franklin)

I picked other because I have 3 goals that are important to me To have money, to be well educated, and to have a job that I love.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I think that education is the

I think that education is the most important goal for me because in order for you to succeed in life you need to have a good education.This can take you a long way in life a road to riches , success and everything you may want in life.

Serendip Visitor's picture

I rather be educated

I rather be educated because because everything else will fall into place eventually, but I rather be educated. Education will allow me to do what I love, whether or not I am rich or not it will make me get out of bed every morning.

alesnick's picture


i agree that having drive to get out of bed in the morning (most of the time), with a sense of purpose, hope, and joy, is extremely important.  Do you think this is as potent a force of freedom and possibility as having money?

j.nahig's picture

Regarding Purpose...

This whole idea of purpose is one that I began to think about in high school, and have been thinking even more about recently. The more I have thought about it, the less distinct becomes the line between having purpose and being happy. When it comes to finding what you want in life, aren't they the same thing? Having purpose not only motivates you, but also inspires you and brings you joy. Aren't these the same as freedom? Having money will undoubtedly enable you to fulfill whatever your "purpose" may be (and who's to say you only have one purpose?); but purpose, I believe, is the free force that drives your goals. Would you agree that money is an aside to the freedom that purpose creates?