There is a tool which many coaches use to explore the balance in your life – often so you can identify what is’wrong’, or could be better. It is called the Wheel of Life, or the Life Wheel, and looks something like this:
You can use it yourself to check where your life might be out of balance. Click here to download a printable version of the Life Wheel. Consider the questions below, and check back at my blog on using goals to support you to take some action if you need to.
These eight areas are not definitive, by the way – if there is one missing for you, or one that feels irrelevant, then change it. For example, some people might want to put ‘Faith’ as one of the spokes, or ‘Community’. Make the Life Wheel your own and it will work better for you. It’s probably the case that more than eight spokes will become unmanageable so it’s better to keep it to eight or fewer.
Now, consider each area in turn. For each:
• on a scale of 1 to 10, what number would you give it in terms of how satisfied you are with that area of your life, right now? The wording is important: it isn’t how well you are doing in that area, but rather how satisfied you are.
• put a mark on the spoke at the appropriate point – 0 is at the centre and 10 is at the outer edge;
• now join up the marks you have made and you have an immediate and clear visual image of the balance of your life.
The ‘bulges’ towards the outer edge of the circle denote those areas of high satisfaction, whilst the dips towards the centre suggest areas where you are not so satisfied. This is why it is important to focus on satisfaction, rather than on performance, or on other people’s judgement. For example, you may not have particularly close relationships with your birth family. If you were scoring on the basis of how well that area of your life is going, you might put down a 3. But what if it seems okay with you, not to be very close to your birth family? Then the satisfaction question might lead you to put down an 8 or even higher. It is entirely your response.
The invitation is to look at those areas, if there are any, where you have dips towards the centre of your circle. Ask yourself:
• are those, indeed, areas where I am dissatisfied?
• are they compromising the balance of my life and therefore my overall sense of well-being?
• do I have a sense of what the dissatisfaction is about?
• what would it feel like, for me, to be hitting the 10 in that area?
• what would it look like for me to be hitting a 10 in that area? This is an invitation to be clear about the changes you want: in other words, specifically, what would be different?
• can I start setting goals around that area to find more satisfaction: for example, what number would I like to be at in 3 months, 6 months, a year? What are the steps I need to take to achieve that?
I’d be really interested to know how it works for you.
I particularly like the Life Wheel because the initial exercise can be done quite quickly and intuitively. Also, it can be an excellent measure of change: when you review by doing it again in six months, for instance, have your satisfaction scores in those areas changed? It’s a good first aid tool as well, and it also makes a very useful piece of personal preparation for working with a professional coach since it may help you identify what you want to work on.
What’s really exciting to me, as well, is that this principle of the wheel and the notion of balance, can be applied more widely. For instance, If you’re working within an organisation, you can use this approach to explore how balanced your approach is to your goals or to specific aspects of your vision: just plot the aspects along the spokes of the wheel and score how well you’re doing on each. You’ll soon spot if something’s getting left behind at the expense of another area.
Next week, I’m going to be exploring another application of this idea of the wheel: Eric Berne, the originator of Transactional Analysis, talked of our having six hungers, each of which needs meeting or satisfying. I think it can be useful to plot these hungers on a wheel to look at where you might have needs that are being neglected and to show you those areas where you are taking good care of your needs.
Over the week, I will be giving you a template for the ‘Hungers Wheel’, offering suggestions for how you might use it, and including a detailed look at each of the six areas. So check back each day for more or, even better, click the subscribe by e-mail button and you will be notified when each new post is published.