University (n = 175) and high school (n = 162) students rated their commitment to three personal projects self-identified as central to their lives, the extent to which each project generated experiences of relatedness, competence and integrity, and how much approval it received from significant others. This study compared the ‘life’ (hobbies, fitness, church, life transitions, intrapersonal, etc.) and education projects of participants who spontaneously generated an example of each (98 university and 70 high school participants). Integrity and competence received higher ratings than relatedness and were the most important predictors of commitment to both types of project. For both groups, education projects received more family/adult approval than life projects and there was much greater variation in approval ratings for the latter. The results suggest that, at least for young people in New Zealand, feeling that you are good at a project and it fits with your values, is almost a proxy for commitment. It is possible that social factors play a less direct role, perhaps by influencing the choice of interpersonal settings in which to carry out important projects. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.