The Wheel Of Life

July 8, 2015

by Ravi Raman

Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

– Robert Fulghum

Wouldn’t it be nice to get super clear on what the biggest goals and opportunities for improvement in your life are? I will show you how. You just need to dedicate a few minutes to reading and applying what you will learn in this post – it’s all about the Wheel of Life process.

In this post, you will learn the Wheel of Life process, and how you can start applying it right away. In essence, it’s like becoming your own coach! This process process is powerful in its simplicity. It will get you clear, balanced and focused on the right things. Apply it yourself and start seeing results today!

Using The Wheel of Life To Create Balance

Tyson Defeats Another Opponent

The sweat rolled off his chin as he pounded the speed bag like it was his archenemy. Here he was at the top of his career, enjoying a recent win over Frank Bruno and preparing for his next fight against Bruce Seldon (which he would win). For several years he continued to win, until Evander Holyfield stopped him in two different matches. Tyson still cleaned up financially, netting 10’s of millions for each fight despite losing them to Holyfield.

Fast forward a few years and he was flat broke.

Mike Tyson made $300M in his life (at least, some estimates go much higher), but ended up financially ruined. During his career, he put all his focus on a few things – his career (boxing), his fitness (which supported his career) and leisure (which involved spending ridiculous sums of money on extravagant things). He ignored and also failed to take a critical look at many other parts of his life. Namely, his friendships, relationships, education, contribution or real financial health.

You can only run your life headstrong in a single direction for a limited amount of time before the proverbial “wheels” fall off the car of life.

Car with square wheels

You might say: “Why should I bother with a balanced view of my life, I’d rather just focus on what is working well for me!” Focusing on your strengths is a good approach, particularly when it comes to figuring out how to excel in your career or sport. However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore other areas of your life.

If you are an entrepreneur, this applies equally well to you. Create your wheel of life centered on the different aspects of your business. For example, if you are overly focused on building the next version of your product and ignore your existing customers, your business will inevitably fail. If you are too focused on growing your headcount but fail to invest in innovation, your business will also fail. Businesses need to find a way to balance out their priorities.

Getting objective about the balance (or lack thereof) in your life or business can be very difficult to do. Luckily there is a tool that can help. It’s called the Wheel of Life.

Coach Yourself To Success

Be Your Own Life Coach

Life is going to keep pulling you in different directions. One day your family will demand all your energy. Another day your career will be all-encompassing. Still others will be occupied by your focus on getting finances under control. As the days go by, life will continue to pull you here and there, unless you decide to live life differently and in a more balanced and planful way.

You have the power to be your own coach, and the Wheel of Life is a powerful tool for doing just that. Through spending less than 30 minutes charting out the areas of your life and identifying the right set of goals, you can stand calmly in the center of the storm of life, knowing that you are focused on the right things.

This doesn’t mean that you will never get yanked around in different directions; it just means that you will be able to get centered and refocused more easily when the inevitable curveballs of life get thrown your way. A teacher of mine, Tony Robbins, is fond of saying “Without a vision, people perish.” But how do we create a vision? How do we navigate ourselves out of a tricky situation life has thrown at us? The wheel of life is the starting point for getting clear on what matters most to you in your life, where there is anything out of balance and coming clean about what needs to be done to close the gap between your current situation and your ideal state of being.

The Step By Step Wheel Of Life Process

The Wheel of Life process is used by coaches and psychologists around the world. It is startlingly effective and takes just minutes to do. Follow the steps below to create your Wheel of Life today. Set aside about 30 minutes for this exercise. If you can spare a full hour, that is even better. Take your time and put serious thought into each step.

Step 1. Create your Wheel of Life

Wheel of Life - A Powerful Life Coach Tool

Wheel of Life (Microsoft Word). Wheel of Life (PDF).

Pull out a blank sheet of paper. If you are a technophile and cringe at the thought of actually writing something by hand, you can use the handy little template I created for you at the links above. I recommend printing this out and writing on it with a pen or different colored markers.

For those creating your template, just make a large circle on your blank sheet of paper. Divide this circle into eight slices like a pizza. This circle represents your entire life (or if you are doing this for your business, all the different aspects of your business).

Step 2. Identify your areas of focus

Photo Areas of Focus

There are many interconnected parts to our lives. They each are critical to our success and happiness, but the way we each think about them is unique for each person. In this step, you will label each slice of your Wheel of Life to represent a part of life that is important to you. Use language that is comfortable to you.

To get you started, I’ve listed below a laundry list of different areas of life that I hear clients mention when I work with them on creating life wheels. Use these areas as though starters for you.

There are eight primary categories that most people start with when building a Wheel of Life:

  • Health
  • Career
  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Giving/Contribution
  • Personal Growth
  • Fun
  • Spirituality

In addition to the categories above, some people prefer to be more specific with their categories. Here some other areas to consider:

  • Fitness
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Home
  • Hobbies
  • Learning
  • Travel
  • Food/Diet
  • Business

What areas of your life are worth you time and attention and focus?

Go ahead and label the outside of each slice of your Wheel of Life with those areas of your life.

If you run out of slices to label, just subdivide one of the areas into two. Keep doing that until you have as many areas as needed. If you Wheel of Life gets messy or cramped, just redraw it on a fresh sheet of paper.

A sample wheel of life that I just created.

A sample wheel of life that I just created.

Step 3. Get clear on your current situation

We can all grow and improve, and my guess is if you are reading this blog you are committed to this notion of personal growth. To grow, we first need to get clear on where we are right now in each part of our life, and where we want to be in the future.

Imagine that each slice on your Wheel of Life can be measured regarding your satisfaction with that particular area of your life today compared with where you want to be in the future. How far in the future? You get to decide!

I like to set goals for the year. However, you may choose a difference measure of time that works for you. In this case, imagine the center of the Wheel of Life is a rating of “0 – completely unsatisfied” and the outer edge of each slice is a rating of “10 – completely satisfied.”

Rate each area on your wheel based on how satisfied you are right now (scale of 0–10). Draw a little line across the slice and shade it in (see my image below for an example).

My wheel of life, with current areas of focus and ratings shaded in.

My wheel of life, with current areas of focus and ratings shaded in.

If you are having trouble rating your satisfaction with the categories you have identified, try asking yourself the following questions:

Do you have enough energy pursue your goals every day?
Are you able to maintain a healthy weight?
Are their people who you admire as being full of health and vitality?

Are you excited to go to work?
Are you learning and growing in your career?
Is your career rewarding (financially and otherwise)?

Do you feel financially secure?
Are you able to do what you want to do without constraints?
Are there things you would do if you have bigger financial resources?

Do you have people you care about (and who care about you) in your life?
Do you have meaningful experiences with others?
Do you feel loved?

Do you give (time, money, etc.) to others freely?
Do you feel like you are contributing to making the world a better place?
Is there a good cause you would like to support in a bigger way?

Personal Growth
Are you learning new skills?
Are you maturing?
Do you have clear and highly motivating goals for your life?

Do you laugh a lot?
Do you have fun experiences on a regular basis?
Do you make time to relax and rest?

Do you know what you stand for as a human being?
Do you have a deep meaning or motivation for your life?
Do you feel connected to the environment/planet/others in a real way?

Step 4. Identify your goals

Next, rate each area on your wheel based on how satisfied you want to be in the future (in 12 months or whatever time you decide on). Draw a dashed line across the slice. If you can use a different color that works too.

wheel of life example

My wheel of life, with aspirations marked in red pencil, and “growth gaps” circled.

The difference between your shaded section and the dashed line is your growth gap! Write the difference between the two numbers outside each slice and circle it.

Congratulations, you have identified clear opportunities to improve in the most critical areas of your life!

Step 5. Create action plan for each area

Now that you have identified a clear growth gap for each area of your Wheel of Life, the next step is to come up with an action plan for each area. This is an area where a lot of people struggle. The way to come up with an action plan is to write a few things down without worrying about getting it perfect.

Ask yourself the following questions for each area in your life wheel:
  1. What is the smallest thing I could do to make progress in this area of life TODAY?
  2. If I was living like a “rating of 10 out of 10” for this area of my life, what would I have done to get to a 10 from where I am today?
  3. What is one big thing that I know I need to do in this area of my life to make progress, but am scared or hesitant to do it?

Write down the answers to these three questions. They are the starting point to your action plan!

No doubt there will be other actions that you could take, but these are the first few things to get the ball rolling. Over time, continue to review your Wheel of Life (or Wheel of Business) and actions. Continue to come up with other regular actions you can take to move towards your desired goals.

Example of action plan for “Career” area of focus:
  1. Complete LinkedIn profile and recommendations (Today).
  2. Meet with my boss to discuss my desire to move up in my job (Next week).
  3. Take presentation skills workshop (This month).

Step 6. Take immediate action

Procrastination is the bane of existence for me. I know the clients I work with struggle with it too. Intelligence has nothing to do with it either. In fact, I find that people who are smarter tend to be especially adept at coming up with reasons for delaying things!

Statistics show an alarming prevalence of procrastination, reaching over 70% among college students and starting at 20% in the general adult population.(*) These statistics come from studies that focus on menial tasks (like studying or paying bills). I’m curious what procrastination rates are like for important stuff, like calling that tough customer or having a difficult conversation with your boss or family member. I’d imagine the rates would be even higher. It’s a big deal.

The final step in your Wheel of Life process is to take immediate action against the most important areas for you. Pick the top 3 (at least!) areas of you Wheel of Life that require immediate action and just do it!

By the time you hit this step in the process you have already written down some small actions you can take for each area. Now all you need to do is not delay and make it happen. Don’t leave the site of you Wheel of Life activity without taking action!

Call to Action

The Wheel of Life technique is a way to zero in on the most important areas that are worthy of your attention. Set aside at least half and hour to go through this exercise.

What areas show up as needing more work? What ideas do you have for making progress today against those areas?

I would appreciate a note in the comments with your thoughts or further questions.

P.S. If you would like to go a step further and work with me 1 on 1 to identify and conquer the biggest goals in your life, business and career – click here to learn more and apply for a Complimentary Coaching Session.

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