Young people who dream about their future, and believe that they’ll follow through with their goals, are more likely to actually do so than people who dream but don’t have confidence, a new study finds.

The study involved data from the Youth Development Study, a compilation of responses from 995 teens aged 14 to 15, and again at 17 to 18, taken over the course of several years. The teens were questioned about how they envisioned their futures, and how much importance they placed on the prospect of a family and career, or both. They were also asked about whether they believed they’d be successful in achieving these goals, as a "self-efficacy," or confidence, rating.

"The biggest group was people who placed relatively high importance on both work and family," said Bora Lee, a postdoctoral scholar in human development and family studies and an author of the study, in a press release. "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.'"

Years later, when the teenagers had grown up to be 35 to 36 years old, they were surveyed again. The participants were asked about their "perceived success" in work and family. Using a statistical approach, the researchers grouped them based on how they assigned importance to work and family goals, as well as their level of confidence in achieving them. Ultimately, it was confidence that became the "key factor" to success, the researchers found. “Those who show more confidence about achieving their goal were also more likely to achieve those goals in young adulthood,” Lee said. “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 Power Of Confidence

Of course, this isn’t a surprise. Confidence goes a long way in nearly anything that you do, whether it’s learning a new skill, being in a relationship, or landing your dream job. Research has shown that often, confidence has more pull than skill, physical appearance, and experience when it comes to success.

Having confidence when you’re aiming for your dream job becomes just as, or even more important, than GPA, motivation, and ability, according to a 2014 study. The researchers found that job applicants with self-doubt were less likely to push forward with new, challenging, and ambitious goals. Confidence also has a social impact, making others more likely to believe in you (even if they shouldn’t). And while practice may make perfect, another study found, confidence is an essential ingredient in the recipe for success, motivation, and overall well-being. Trying to be confident, however, is often harder than it seems. If you struggle with self-esteem issues, check out these six tips on how to boost your confidence in simple, easy ways.

Interestingly, Lee’s study points out that it was the people who had the joint goals of family and career who were more likely to be successful in them. Lee notes that “individuals tend to end up being more successful in their goal attainment when they are motivated to achieve in both the work and family domains. In effect, work and family should be viewed as allies rather than as competitors. Nowadays people do want to pursue their goals in both domains, work and family.”

Source: Lee B, Vondracek F. Teenage goals and self-efficacy beliefs as precursors of adult career and family outcomes. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2014.