I began college with the idea of becoming an accountant. Math was an easy subject for me, but after only two semesters, I felt it wasn't a field that was going to hold my interest. I decided to study for the ministry and pursued a degree in philosophy and religion. During my senior year, I took my first course in Psychology and was captivated by the possibility of learning more about why we do the things we do.
I had already accepted a fellowship at Yale Divinity School so I went to Yale for a semester before deciding to leave the ministerial track and pursue an advance degree in Psychology. That was a hard decision for me to make, and I was very fortunate to have an excellent faculty advisor who helped me think it through and make the right decision for me. I then took a Masters Degree in Clinical Psychology and a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology.
I taught Organizational Psychology for 8 years in the Graduate Schools of Business at the Univ. of Pittsburgh and the Univ. of Rochester. I was an Associate Professor with tenure in 1970 when I decided to leave the Univ. of Rochester and go into consulting fulltime. I still remember the shocked reaction I got from friends and colleagues. They couldn't believe I would leave such a secure position to enter a profession where I would be on my own with no guaranteed income. This event and the reactions of others crystallized my interest in life planning and how we make significant life decisions.
Peggy (my wife) and I began immediately to create and run Life-Planning Workshops. In 1972, while running a Life-Planning Workshop for couples, we got clear on our desire to live in a warm climate near the water and decided to move to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. In the ensuing years, Peggy and I ran Life-Planning Workshops for groups as diverse as the National Council of Churches and the National Defense University. We counseled hundreds of people in the life-planning process and used it consistently in our own lives until Peggy's death on Nov. 8, 2012.
Working with this process for almost 48 years has left me with two indelible impressions. First, most people never come close to realizing their full potential. This is partly due to the almost unlimited capability that every person possesses, but it's also partly caused by the reluctance of many to pursue their dreams. Too many people accept limits put on them by others. Second, the information age has totally changed the world of work. It has created many new opportunities, but it has not simplified the task of choosing among them. In fact, the task of choosing is probably far more complex today because of the increase in options. The life-planning process can be a powerful tool toward this end in the hands of motivated people.
James Vaughan, Ph.D., Co-Founder