Create Your Ideal Life
Applied Psychology of Personal Adjustment and Growth
About the Book
Some pursue happiness — Others create it!
The chief purpose of Create Your Ideal Life is to empower you to proactively (intentionally and consciously) and continually create your ideal life in a joyful and balanced fashion by following the holistic (emphasizing the importance of the whole and the interdependence of its parts) Life Creation Process described in it. Following the Life Creation Process will help you to gain the level of self-understanding required to optimize the quality of your life and achieve personal growth.
As you read this book, you will be introduced to the key concepts of applied psychology of personal adjustment and growth. The term applied indicates that the material provided is practical and that you can readily use the concepts provided to create and control your self and your life. The words psychology of personal adjustment indicate that one focus of the book is upon “… the individual’s response to the physical, psychological, and social demands of the self, other people, and the environment” (Napoli, Kilbridge & Tebbs, 1996, p. 4). The words psychology of personal growth indicate that another focus is upon “… the process by which the individual changes his or her thoughts, feelings, or behaviors regarding the self, others, or the environment” (Napoli and others, 1996, p. 4).
Additionally, you will learn effective strategies for exploring life choices and making decisions, managing life changes, changing self-defeating beliefs and habits, coping effectively with stress, and developing effective interpersonal relationships. You will also discover the important role that essential beliefs and core values play in the decision-making process and the problems that can arise out of value conflicts. I have provided true stories from my own life and from the lives of my family members, friends, and students to clarify and underscore key points. The stories are all true. However, some of the names were changed to protect each person’s privacy, except in cases where permission was granted to use the person’s real name.
Throughout this book, I have used a cinematic (pertaining to the movie industry) analogy to explain the spiritual, psychological, physical, and social issues involved in personal adjustment and growth across the life span. I have used the cinematic analogy to both simplify and dramatize the key concepts in the holistic Life Creation Process in order to make them easier for you to understand, learn to use, and remember. In addition to the mnemonic (memory-enhancing) value of the cinematic analogy, I believe it makes the complex concepts involved in the holistic Life Creation Process easy to discuss with and teach other people. Most people are already familiar with the meaning of most of the movie industry terms used such as star, actor, screen image, script, cast, producer, director, and sequel, and they understand how all the key aspects of a movie can either contribute to its success or ruin the entire project. Therefore, using the cinematic terms makes it easier for people to comprehend how all the key aspects of their Ideal Future Life must be harmonious in order to achieve the desired results.
As you complete the Life Creation Process Exercises, you will be directed to analyze the key aspects of your Present Life and create a script for your Ideal Future Life using techniques that are similar to those employed by successful movie stars, directors, producers, set designers, and script writers (e.g., DiTillio.;, 1995). You will also be guided to identify the Transitional Life goals that you will need to achieve in order to segue from living your Present Life to living your Ideal Future Life.
The Ideal Future Life that you design at this present time is definitely not all there is or will ever be possible in your life. As you grow and change, you will update your vision of your ideal life. Learning the tools and techniques used in the Life Creation Process Exercises will empower you to continually recreate your Ideal Future Life through planned sequels in order to keep your life well balanced and overflowing with happiness and spiritual joy.
The resources used for this book reflect my multidisciplinary approach to the Life Creation Process as well as my positive psychological orientation. I have included concepts from the traditional scholarly social-psychological literature, the popular self-help and self-improvement literature, and the media (plays, movies, tv, newspapers and magazines). The material includes both multidisciplinary academic resources and popular self-improvement resources that I have used, and found to be beneficial, during my own explorations in personal adjustment, growth, and Ideal Future Life creation. Most of the new material in this revised version of Create Your Ideal Life is from information that I have incorporated into my lectures, in-class exercises, and course assignments over the past 15 years.
About the Author
Mary Zahm, Ph.D. is Professor and Chair of the Psychology and Sociology Department and Director of the Civic Engagement Program at Bristol Community College, Fall River, Massachusetts. She is also an Adjunct Professor for the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Continuing Education of the University of Rhode Island, Providence, Rhode Island. She has received awards for outstanding teaching from students both at Bristol Community College and the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Zahm also received the prestigious National Institute for Staff and Organization Development Award (NISOD) for outstanding performance as a professor at the community college in 2002 and 2009.
Create Your Ideal Life was previously published by McGraw-Hill Course Works (1996) and has been used as a textbook for the Psychology of Personal Adjustment class at Bristol Community College and for the Toward Self-Understanding course at the University of Rhode Island for over 14 years. In addition to her teaching expertise, Dr. Zahm also brings a practical bent to the book based on her 13 years as a Human Factors Engineer for Raytheon Company.
Dr. Zahm is a Past President of the New England Psychological Association. She is co-author of 110 Strategies for Success in College and Life (2006, AuthorHouse) with Dr. Joan Rollins, Professor of Psychology and former Chair of the Psychology Department at Rhode Island College, Providence, Rhode Island.