When life is busy, or all your energy is focused on a special project, it's all too easy to find yourself off balance, not paying enough attention to important areas of your life. While you need to have drive and focus if you're going to get things done, taking this too far can lead to frustration and intense stress.
What is the Wheel of Life?
The Wheel of Life is a simple but powerful tool that helps you visualize all the important areas of your life at once. It is often used by life coaches and career coaches to give their clients a "bird's eye" view of their lives. By looking at a visual representation of all the areas of your life at once, the wheel helps you to better understand which of your life areas are flourishing and which ones need the most work.
What is the Wheel of Life?
The Wheel of Life® shows how to bring balance to your life and create happiness and success. It originates from Tibetan Buddhism and focuses on eight components, which are also called happiness factors in human life.
However, The Wheel of Life® should not be confused with the Tibetan version, which focuses more on the awareness of the personal state of mind.
This has been a useful tool when life has gotten out of balance, such as suffering from workaholism, getting burned out, or generally being unsatisfied and not sure why. It’s been very effective in helping people to become more effective and satisfied with their life even if they are not burned out or unhappy. The idea is to identify the areas, dimensions or aspects of your life and arrange them as areas or spokes around a wheel.
The circle represents your life, the whole of you. The pieces of the pie, or spokes, are the parts your life: the areas, roles, or aspects of the whole. You assess those aspects and create a graphic like the one here to see how balanced your life is. Below are some more examples.
the idea is to assess these parts of yourself or your life to see if there are important things you’ve been neglecting, or things you’ve been giving too much of yourself to.
What’s The Purpose?
Today, the tool is used mainly to identify what we need to do when life is out of balance, for instance, when the wheel shows us that all our attention is going to work and we are ignoring our health or needs for fun and recreation. The second illustration shows the wheel out of balance. This tool is usually used in goal-setting exercises, to help us be more balanced when we set goals.
But, what is the goal and purpose of life? To set and attain goals? Success? Is life a game where winning is a matter of the goals attained, and the more the better? Or is it something else? Is it not to enjoy happiness, bliss, to be content, satisfied and happy with yourself and life? To truly thrive? Isn’t that the success we seek?
Centered and Whole
The purpose of the wheel of life exercise is to make sure our wheel, the whole of our life, is balanced, all aspects or needs fulfilled in the right way. When one aspect of your life becomes the focus and the others are neglected, the wheel is out of balance. We know what happens to an out-of-balance wheel. It gets wobbly and is likely to crash. Our wheel, your life, needs to be balanced around the center. But what’s at the center of your life, the most important thing?
Start by brainstorming the six to eight dimensions of your life that are important for you. Different approaches to this are:
The roles you play in life, for example: husband/wife, father/mother, manager, colleague, team member, sports player, community leader, or friend.
Areas of life that are important to you, for example: artistic expression, positive attitude, career, education, family, friends, financial freedom, physical challenge, pleasure, or public service.
Your own combination of these (or different) things, reflecting the things that are your priorities in life.
Now you have a visual representation of your current life balance and your ideal life balance. Where are the gaps? These are the areas of your life that need attention.
And remember that gaps can go both ways. There are almost certainly areas that are not getting as much attention as you'd like. However, there may also be areas where you're putting in more effort than you'd ideally like. These areas are sapping energy and enthusiasm that may better be directed elsewhere.
Once you have identified the areas that need attention, it's time to plan the actions needed to work on regaining balance. Starting with the neglected areas, what things do you need to start doing to regain balance? In the areas that currently sap your energy and time, what can you stop doing or reprioritize or delegate to someone else?
The Wheel of Life is a great tool to help you improve your life balance. It helps you quickly and graphically identify the areas in your life to which you want to devote more energy, and helps you understand where you might want to cut back.
The challenge now is to transform this knowledge and desire for a more balanced life into a positive program of action.