The ‘Wheel of Life’ is a diagnostic tool that many coaches use in first coaching session with a client.
Why? Because it’s a great place to start. Even when a client is quite specific about the issue they want to tackle, a coach needs a bird’s eye view of what’s going on. Life isn’t as rigidly compartmentalised as we think it is. Neglect one area, and it will most likely affect the others.
For example, you may think that your problem is “I need a new job”, but the ‘Wheel of Life’ may reveal other areas that you’ve seriously dropped down the back of the sofa, like a need to be creative. So you start painting again, and you become happier. Suddenly you’re skipping into work and coming up with new ideas with your team. Maybe it gets noticed and you’re given a promotion… see what I mean?
The Wheel of Life is a basic starting block which can shows you where your life is out of whack. Use the wheel and you’ll be given clues straight away of how to make life a smoother ride. It may even warn you if you’re heading for a crash.
Maybe you’re really ‘going for it’ in creating a new business, and giving it nearly all of your time and attention. Then, what happens when little or no attention is given to your marriage? Your spouse leaves you, life becomes chaotic and the business goes to the wall.
Just 10 minutes at the start of each month to check over these things is worth it.
Another good use for the wheel is when we feel overwhelmed and think the problem is EVERYTHING… “I hate my job, don’t have girlfriend, need to start exercising, my finances are a mess…” Where to start with all of THAT?
Or maybe you’re feeling a bit ‘meh’ and generally dissatisfied with life. You’re like “Something needs to HAPPEN”, but you have no clue what. Use a life wheel.
How to use a ‘wheel of life’
Doing the exercise can be quite therapeutic, especially if you like colouring 🙂
There are usually 8 dimensions that make up the wheel, (but you can also use 10). This is the classic wheel (which you can download as a worksheet here).
Give each area a score between 1-10 and colour up to the line.
10 = I’m completely satisfied and this area is not lacking attention – whoop!
0 = I’m not satisfied at all and this area is being completely neglected – oops!
How stable does your wheel look? Is it giving you a rocky ride?
Typical areas on a life wheel
- Physical environment
- Friends & family
- Love / romance
- Personal growth
My spin on the wheel
Some terminology tends to work better for some people. For example, instead of ‘Career’ I like to use the term ‘Your Work’ which is more aligned to purpose. Are you doing ‘Your Work’ or someone else’s?
I also think community includes family and friends, so those can be covered in one dimension. Here’s what my version looks like.
- Home (your physical environment, your personal affairs)
- Your Work (the work you do/want to do to be fulfilled and add value)
- Income (the money coming in to support you)
- Health (diet, sleep, exercise, relaxation, mental and emotional wellness)
- Community (friends, family and the wider community)
- Significant other (quality of relationship, sex, intimacy)
- Growth (creativity, learning, challenge)
- Play (hobbies, exploration, travel)
Tony Robbins’ wheel of life has a spoke missing
Tony Robbins only needs 7 categories to assess the balance of someone’s life. The last item is worth considering.
- Physical health
- Emotional stability
- Intimate relationship
- Productivity and performance
- Financial situation
- Leadership and contribution
So which wheel is best?
Even better, make your own
- Brainstorm all the aspects of your life, past and present.
- Group them into 8 categories that make sense to you, to maintain a balanced life.
- Plot them onto a blank wheel – here is one you can download.
Alternatively, ditch the wheel completely
I’m a lists and spreadsheet freak. So if you like that sort of thing, here’s another method you can use to make your diagnosis more thorough and personalised. Do it on paper, or in a spreadsheet where you can make calculations and sort the list.
In essence, it’s a gap analysis – find the biggest gaps so you can start to minimise them.
Start by creating a list of all dimensions of your life – including past dimensions that you think are relevant. As many as you can think of.
Things that can get overlooked in the a typical ‘Wheel of Life’ exercise:
- Productivity / effectiveness
- Self care
- Creative output
- Emotional health
- Helping others
- Self management / organisation
- Life’s work / purpose
Group them into themes that make sense to you. You don’t want the list to be too long, between 8-16 is workable.
3. Start scoring
- In a 2nd column, score each with the current level of satisfaction (10 being totally satisfied).
- In another 3rd column, give each a score to realistically aim for.
- In a 4th column, calculate the difference.
- The areas that score the highest have the biggest shortfall.
What goals can you create in these areas, to start making improvements?
Stick it in a drawer and forget about it? Nooooo!
Use your wheel (or non-wheel) to do a regular health-check of your life balance, every 3 or 6 months – depending on your results!
If you’re wondering where this wheel idea originally came from, it was Paul Meyer. His ‘spokes’ were:
- Physical & health,
- Spritual & ethical,
- Family & home,
- Mental & educational,
- Social & cultural,
- Financial & career.
I hope you find the exercises ‘wheeley’ helpful!