How you resemble and differ from your parents and other
members of the family? Make physical, personality, attitudinal,
values, and behavioral comparisons.
Family relations: How did your parents relate to each other?
Were you dependent or independent as a child and teenager?
How do you relate to your spouse? How did your parents relate
to you and your siblings? How do you relate to your children?
How did your siblings get along? How do your children get
10. How do significant others see your future?
11. Sexual history: Early memories, how you learned about sex,
attitudes (early and later) toward sex and toward both sexes,
temptations, good and bad experiences.
12. School and work history: parents', friends' and your attitudes
about school and your career. How much of your time goes into
work and how much into fun? Is that about right?
13. Friendships, loves, and social life: throughout your life,
including early friends, your "gang," first love, sports, religious
activities, co-workers, best friends, lovers, etc. What kinds of
communities did you live in?
14. Crises, regrets, and peak experiences: describe your three
greatest crises and three most wonderful experiences. What
would you have liked to have happened differently in your life?
What did you need you didn't get?
15. Future changes you would like to make in your life: describe
your major goals in one, five, ten and twenty years. What self-
improvements are needed to achieve those goals? Which self-
help projects should be started first?
16. Reactions to writing the autobiography: before, during, and
after doing the writing.
17. Realistic expectations: not what you hope will happen in your
life, but what is most likely.
18. Life graph: summarize your life by plotting year by year the ups
and downs of your life from birth to now. Note on the graph,
using little symbols or phrases, the causes of the "highs" and
A book by Leman and Carlson (1989), Unlocking the Secrets of
Your Childhood Memories, might help you find the significance of your
childhood experiences. Also, if appropriate, ask a parent, sibling, or
close friend to review a rough draft of your autobiography. Get their
views and reactions--that is likely to be revealing. Add these other
opinions to your write-up.
Writing the autobiography, a major undertaking, should put your
life in perspective and help you see the major directions you are
moving in--or where you aren't making much movement. You will
probably find some other areas of your life you would like to
understand better. Add them to your list of mysteries.
STEP TWO: Keep a daily diary: Record significant experiences, causes
of problems, progress in self-improvement, and what self-help