Today we’re going to focus on a really simple and common tool used in coaching – the “wheel of life”. You might already know about or have used something similar yourself.
The wheel of life is a visual aid that can give us a snapshot of where we’re at and it can be used in so many different ways.
We can use it to:
- Give us a visual way of taking stock and assessing how we are tracking in various areas of our life
- Identify areas we want (or need) to focus on
- Decide what goals we’d like to set
- Identify our priorities
- Get honest with ourself about where we stand
- Create balance
- Show us what we think is important (which we might decide we want to change)
There are many versions of this tool, and people from all walks of life use it or something like it.
What is it?
Start by thinking about important 6 – 8 areas of your life. Why so many, you might ask? Well, spreading our focus rather than concentrating only on one or two areas not only gives us more balance, it’s more likely to help is feel good and function well (i.e. create wellbeing) and it also helps us cope better if (or perhaps when) something bad happens in one area. We’ll have more to fall back on to help pull us out of the hole. If all I care about and focus on is, say, building up my career, and then something happens to compromise this area of my life (I may lose my long-standing job or something may prevent me being able to do my job, for example) then it’s going to be extremely challenging for me to bounce back from this setback. If I haven’t also put time and effort into my relationships, my health, my finances or hobbies, for example, this will make it really tough. We’re generally not great at thinking of potential options when we’re struggling! This is far easier to do as an ongoing habit.
Here’s what a wheel of life looks like:
Use the diagram on the right to complete your own wheel of life by thinking about six to eight important areas in your life. Each segment will represent one key area. Give each of the segments a label that makes sense to you. Some examples for areas you might find important are: family, friends, partner, learning, growth, job or career, health, fitness, money, hobbies, wellbeing, adventure, attitude, personal development, – whatever is relevant to you, your situation and what you believe are the most important components of your life.
If the centre point of each segment is zero and the outer edge is ten – zero being that you aren’t satisfied at all with how you’re doing in this area and ten being “things couldn’t be better in this area for me right now” – you can then honestly assess where you currently stand in each of the categories in your own life. Shade in up to the appropriate number in each segment, as has been done in the wheel on the left. Once you’ve done this for all of them you’ll be able to see how your wheel looks as a whole. You can see that in the example wheel (and you’re also likely to see in your own) that the yellow segments are shaded in to different levels.
Imagining this as a real wheel, how smooth would your ride be? If you’re like most people it would probably be a bit bumpy. Naturally you’ll be more successful, happy and content in some areas of life than you are in others. We can use the wheel to show us where we might want to make some improvements. We can also see where we’re having challenges and whether we might want to set some goals in one or several areas to bring those areas up to speed. Of course, if it looks like many improvements are needed, you’ll probably need to prioritise. One of the reasons I prefer using a wheel over other means of taking stock, such as lists or squares, is that a wheel provides a simple, yet powerful visual means to easily compare your performance or satisfaction across each of the segments relative to each other at a glance. You can also “see” and “feel” why life perhaps seems a little (or a lot) out of kilter or uncomfortable.
Looking at your own wheel:
- How smooth would your ride be?
- How balanced does your life feel?
- What are your immediate priorities?
- Are there any goals you’d like to set?