When working full time, it can be challenging to find a balance between your professional and personal responsibilities. Over the years, many strategies and tools have been developed to help you achieve a work-life balance, and the wheel of life is one such tool. In this article, we explain what a wheel of life is, the categories and styles commonly used to create one, the steps you should take to create and use one and answers to some frequently asked questions that relate to the wheel of life.
What is a wheel of life?
The wheel of life, also known as the life balance wheel, the coaching wheel or the life wheel, is a visual tool used to assess and understand how balanced your life currently is. Using this tool, you map out the areas of your life on a circle that resembles the spoke of a wheel, which is the reasoning for its name. It is often used by people in every industry, profession and stage of life to help achieve a work-life balance, ensuring that they are satisfied and effective in the most important areas of their life.
Wheel of life categories
You can develop a wheel of life with as many as 10 categories depending on the focus areas of your life. Aside from a difference in the number of categories you can choose, the names assigned to each of them may vary across resources. The general categories found in a wheel of life are:
Sometimes labeled "self-development" or "learning," this category represents the time you spend working toward your personal goals.
The career category is sometimes broken off into its own "wheel of business" so that users can subcategorize the focus areas of their careers.
This sometimes goes by "financial security" or "money," but it refers to your success in managing, budgeting, saving and investing your money.
Fun and leisure
You can also label this "recreation" or "social."
You might call this "dating" or "life partner" depending on your personal situation and preference.
This category can be used to evaluate either your work or home environment.
Some prefer to split this category into both a physical and emotional distinction.
Family and friends
Many prefer to divide this into two separate categories.
Wheel of life design styles
When creating a wheel of life, you can choose from several different designs that work similarly but display the information in a slightly different way. Ultimately, you should choose a design that is easier for you to understand and read. Though they have been interpreted in various ways, the two primary styles for the life balance wheel are:
The spider web
This style more closely resembles a graph because each segment is made up of lines to accurately gauge your satisfaction in that focus area. As a result, it ends up looking a lot like a spider web. You often see this style used for a computer-generated wheel of life because it is easier for computers to map out.
Sometimes referred to as the original style, this wheel of life resembles slices of pizza or pie. To use it, you rate each area and then draw a line between the segments.
How to use a wheel of life
To create and use a wheel of life, you should follow these steps:
1. Determine your life's focus areas
You can start by spending time thinking about the most important dimensions of your life. To do this you can either focus on the:
- Most important areas of your life: You could use things like education, career, family, friends, pleasure, public service, financial freedom, physical fitness, positivity or artistic expression.
- The roles you have: Some of the roles you might play are that of a friend, community leader, sports player, team member, colleague, manager, parent or spouse.
- A combination of both: Using this method, you would just reflect on all of the things that you consider priorities.
2. Create a wheel using the categories you chose
Once you have decided on your life's focus areas, you can create a diagram that can accommodate that many categories and then label each spoke of your wheel of life.
3. Evaluate each area
In your life, you likely experience times when more attention has to be devoted to certain areas or roles than others. The concept behind the wheel of life is that you can find fulfillment and happiness if you can find the right balance between each dimension. Go through each category and assess how much attention you're currently devoting to it on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Once you determine a category's score, write it down and then mark it in the corresponding spoke.
4. Connect the dots
After you have gone through each category and marked your score on your wheel of life, connect each mark around the circle. By connecting the dots, you can see just how each area compares and decide whether your wheel looks and feels balanced.
5. Compare the results to your ideal levels
Different areas of your life require different amounts of attention, specifically in various seasons. In other words, achieving a balanced life doesn't have to mean that you're giving an equal amount of focus to each category. Consider what your ideal attention level is for each category and then plot those scores on your wheel of life in a different color.
6. Take steps to address the areas you'd like to improve
Assess any gaps that exist between your current and ideal life balance. There could be areas where you feel you're unable to devote your desired amount of attention because you're too focused on another dimension. Using this visual tool, you can identify the gaps and decide what you need to do to establish balance.
FAQs about the wheel of life
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding the wheel of life:
Who invented the wheel of life?
Paul J. Meyer, one of the originators of what is now known as life coaching and the founder of the Success Motivation Institute, developed the wheel of life's modern-day version in 1960.
How can you use a wheel of life in a coaching practice?
There are many uses for a wheel of life in coaching, including to:
- Establishing trust with a prospective client
- Recognizing and prioritizing a client's goals
- Visualizing a client's progress
- Checking back in with how a client is feeling
- Discovering why a client is stressed or dissatisfied
- Helping a client realize their ideal life situation
- Assessing which goals are most important to a client
What are the areas of focus for a wheel of business?
If you decide to create a wheel specifically for your business, you should use specific categories that are imperative for your company's long-term growth and sustainability. These are the aspects that need constant managing, monitoring and development, such as:
- Web and digital
- Management, team development and leadership
- Product and service development, research and development and innovations
- Customer service
- Legal, accounting, administration, finances and operations
- Branding, sales and marketing