Nearly nine of 10 women of childbearing age are satisfied with their lives, and 83 percent believe they will be able to meet their life goals, according to a Gallup Poll released Tuesday.

The poll of 1,000 women aged 18 to 44 found that the most essential element to career success is confidence, followed by a supportive husband or partner.Among other findings:

-Satisfaction is closely tied to personal and familial aspects of women's lives.

-Women with children consider birth control and child care as very important elements in career success.

-Most women believe the ideal age to start a family is in her early twenties.

-Though most women believe it is very important to plan the timing of her first child, half the mothers interviewed said their first was unplanned.

The poll, commissioned by the Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp., which makes birth-control products, found that 88 percent were either mostly or very satisifed with their lives.

Fifty-three percent of married women reported being very satisfied, compared with 28 percent of unmarried women.

Thirty-nine percent of married women and 53 percent of unmarried women said they were mostly satisfied. The poll surveyed 673 married and 327 unmarried women.

Women with children were more likely to say they are very satisfied with their lives (46 percent to 39 percent). And 52 percent of those working part time said they were very satisfied, compared with 41 percent of those working full time and 45 percent who were not employed.

Asked whether they had met most of their goals, 64 percent said yes - though the numbers were 75 percent for college graduates and 39 percent for those who didn't finish high school. Similarly, 82 percent of those whose household income was $35,000 to $49,999 said they had met their goals, compared with 42 percent of those with income under $15,000.

Though the overall percentage of those who believed they'd eventually meet their goals was 83 percent, the number was just 57 percent for those without a high school diploma.

The poll found 75 percent believed it was essential to have confidence to be successful at a job.

Other elements considered important were a supportive husband or partner (listed by 66 percent), affordable child care (64 percent), effective birth control (58 percent), excellent health (51 percent) and a college education (45 percent).