January 18, 2021

How to use the Wheel of Life to take back control

What is a Wheel of Life assessment?

The Wheel of Life is a tool that we often use with our coaching clients. What is a Wheel of Life and how can it benefit you?
A Wheel of Life is used to assess the balance between different areas of your life. Different variants exist, but most commonly, these 8 dimensions are scored on a range of 1-10:

  • Physical Environment
  • Business/Career
  • Finances
  • Health
  • Family/Friends
  • Romance
  • Personal Growth
  • Fun/Recreation

You can either use this standard model or adapt it according to your own situation by adding dimensions or altering them.

The origins of the Wheel of Life

Paul J. Meyer, a pioneer of the self-development industry, is credited with creating the original concept for the Wheel of Life assessment . He might have been inspired by Tibetan Buddhism, where the Wheel is used to depict different forms of existence or states of mind.

The Wheel of Life dimensions

These are the 8 standard categories for the Wheel of Life with a short description and some ideas for adaptation, should you require them.
Physical Environment
The Physical Environment dimension encompasses your personal and/or work environment. Especially at this time, when most of us are working from home, it's very important to evaluate how satisfied you are with your physical surroundings.

Business/Career
This describes your work life. If you feel like a different name is more appropriate/applicable to your own situation, like Volunteering or Entrepreneurship, feel free to change it to that instead.

Finances
In the Finances dimension, rate your satisfaction with the way you handle money, or how financially secure you feel.

Health
You can choose to give your health an overall rating, or split the dimension into Physical Health and Mental/Emotional Health.

Family/Friends
The Family & Friends category can also be renamed Relationships, as it describes your relationship with people that are close to you.

Romance
This category can be merged into the Relationships category if you choose, or you can rename it Love, Significant Other, Life Partner, Wife/Husband, etc., according to your personal preference and current situation.

Personal Growth
If you find this dimension a little bit vague, you could rename it Learning or Self-Development. Some choose to include a dimension of Spirituality, instead.

Fun/Recreation
This is a really important category and relates to what gives you energy; what you enjoy doing.

How do I complete a Wheel of Life exercise?

1. Review the suggested dimensions and if needed, adapt them to your specific situation

wheel_of_life_dimensions
Even though the standard Wheel of Life dimensions are quite comprehensive, you might want to change them. For example, you could split Family/Friends into 2 separate categories, or change the Romance dimension to Life Partner, or Career to Volunteering. It's really up to you!

2. Draw the Wheel of Life frame or print it

Draw a wheel with as many spokes as you have dimensions, put your dimensions the end of the spokes, and divide each spoke into increments numbered 1-10. Alternatively, you can look for a printable version online. You could print the image above, if you'd like.

3. Score each dimension according to your level of satisfaction

Give each dimension a score from 1-10, where 1 is very dissatisfied and 10 is fully satisfied. After you've scored each dimension, draw a line linking the score of each spoke with the next.
wheel_of_life_filled_in_example
Customized and completed Wheel of Life; Image from Mind Tools

4. Assess your completed Wheel of Life

At first glance, does your filled-out Wheel of Life look like a round wheel? If it does, congrats, you're living a balanced life!

A more likely scenario is that your Wheel of Life looks like the one pictured above, with sharp edges and dents. Don't worry, that's completely normal.

Read on to find out how you can interpret your Wheel of Life and what actions you can take to work towards a more balanced life.

How to interpret your Wheel of Life and what actions to take

The filled-in Wheel of Life gives you a snapshot which life dimensions you're really happy with and which need to be prioritized in order for you to feel more balanced. It increases your own awareness of how you feel about these areas in your life. 

The Wheel of Life is a very practical exercise because it instantly allows you to take action. The things you can do after having completed the Wheel of Life assessment are:

Decide where to focus your time and energy

list_priorities
Write down the dimensions you scored the lowest (below average or below a certain score, like 5, for example). Then, under each dimension, think of some goals you'd like to set for yourself in relation to these dimensions, and break these down into steps/tasks. Now you have an action plan!

Schedule a time to fill in another Wheel of Life

You can fill in another Wheel of Life in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, or at whichever interval you feel is appropriate for you. As the Wheel of Life only provides you with a snapshot of your life balance at that particular moment, the results will most certainly change over time. Especially if you go through a major change, it might be a good idea to do the assessment again and compare the results to the previous time.
In fact, why not make it a habit to fill one in once in a while, to keep track of how balanced you feel, and to re-shift your focus?

Create a more specific Wheel of Life

The general Wheel of Life can be adapted to a specific goal that you might have set for yourself. Examples include:

  • Promotion/Business Wheel: Identify 8 dimensions in which you would need/want to improve. Then, score them from 1-10 depending on how competent you would judge yourself to be in these areas. This will help you prioritize your focus areas and highlight your strong areas.
  • Stress Wheel: Identify 8 things that cause you the most anxiety or stress at the moment. Rate how much they affect you negatively on a scale from 1-10. Focus on improving the score for the worst factors by creating an action plan.

Talk to a coach

The Wheel of Life assessment can help you prioritize different areas of your life and set goals for the future. However, there is so much more behind goal-setting and achieving a balanced life than creating a list of goals and actions that you need to complete.
  • How will you ensure that your goals are in line with your values, personal life, and mind&body?
  • Who will help you identify and overcome the inevitable obstacles encountered on the path towards these goals?
  • Who will hold you accountable and keep you on track?
  • And who will arm you with the mental arsenal required to keep growing sustainably?

A coach can provide support for all the above.

online_coaching

My experiences with the Wheel of Life

I'm a big fan of using the Wheel of Life to assess how balanced my life is after a significant change. In the last 10 years, I've lived in 4 countries (the UK, Switzerland, Spain, and the Netherlands). In order to help you understand the process and value of the Wheel of Life, I'll walk you through 3 of my real-life examples.

1. London

helene_london_wheel_of_life
Interpretation

At first glance, you can see that this Wheel of Life is very unbalanced. I had just gone through a break-up that left me quite devastated, so I wasn't prioritizing my health, my finances or my family. 

I was smoking at the time (don't worry, I quit quite soon after that), I was spending money without thinking about it too much, and I wasn't living close to my family, so I couldn't see them frequently.

On the other hand, I was spending a lot of time with friends, doing fun activities (hence the money-spending), trying to distract myself from the recent break-up.
Goal-Setting

I decided to focus on the areas Health, Family, and Money and drew up some goals:

Health:
- stop smoking
- exercise at least 2x per week
- sleep at least 7 hours per night on weekdays

 Family:
- chat to my mother via Skype at least 5 times per week
- plan 1 trip home 2x per year
- express gratitude to my parents at least 1x per month

Money:
- track my finances meticulously
- save at least £100 per month
- get a summer job

2. Madrid

Interpretation

From the get-go, you can tell that this Wheel of Life is way more balanced than the previous one. I wasn't smoking anymore, I'd incorporated regular exercise and a healthy diet into my life, and I was working full-time, so money wasn't really an issue anymore.

In addition, you can see that my Spirituality score went up. That's because I started a personal blog about travel, food, and lifestyle, a creative outlet which gave me a nice sense of purpose.
helene_madrid_wheel_of_life
Goal-Setting

Even though my Wheel was mostly balanced quite well, the 2 areas that I wanted to improve my score for were Love and Career, as those were the lowest-scoring dimensions. The goals that I set for those areas were:

Love:
- meet at least 1 new person every month

Career:
- craft a PDP (personal development plan) with my manager

3. Rotterdam

helene_rotterdam_wheel_of_life
Interpretation

My Wheel of Life for Rotterdam is the most well-balanced one out of the 3. I wanted to show you this one, because you don't always have to be in a dire situation or feel the acute need to change something in order to fill in a Wheel of Life. 

All in all, I've been really happy with how my life has been in Rotterdam. Nevertheless, it's a great idea to do this assessment regularly, since you can monitor your life balance and actively work on the areas to maintain the high score, or to increase the score of others of your choosing.

This way, you can avoid stagnation.
Goal-Setting

At this point in time, I was slightly unhappy with the way my social life was evolving since I had moved to the Netherlands, so I set some goals for myself (this is before the COVID-19 pandemic).

Friends:
- meet 1 new person per month 
- hang out with a friend at least 1x every 2 weeks
- do something nice for a friend at least 1x per month

As you can see, the "meet 1 new person per month" goal is the same as the previous one for Love, but this time, for different purposes.

Conclusion

Completing a Wheel of Life is a great way to gain awareness of your current life satisfaction and balance. It's also a good tool for orienting your goal-setting process.

Nevertheless, without a coach, there's only so far you can get in your growth journey, and you won't reach your full potential.

Therefore, if you've filled in a Wheel of Life and would like to discuss it with a qualified life coach, click here to book your free coaching session. We'd love to go through it with you!

Written by Helene Choo

Helene is the brain behind Amplio’s digital presence. She gained her marketing experience at Google, among others.

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