In today’s article, I’d like to share something called the life wheel (or wheel of life). It’s one of the coaching tools I use in with my clients. It’ll undoubtedly be a useful tool in your journey of growth.
What is the Life Wheel?
After my last post on putting parts of our life on hold, readers have been sharing interesting responses. It seems numerous readers can relate to that problem. However, while some of us may intuitively know that we’re putting parts of our life on hold, it can be a hazy perception. The Life Wheel is a wheel that gives you a snapshot of how you’re doing (a) overall in life and (b) in the individual areas. It is essentially a circle divided into segments (usually 8) that represent different life areas. See sample diagram below.
The segments are not fixed – it’s up to the individual to define the areas he/she finds important. The common areas are career/studies, family, love, friends, finance and health. The remaining few are more subjective. They can be personal growth, recreation, spiritual or others.
Each segment comes with a rating scale of 1-10, representing how you’re doing right now – 1 being lowest, 10 being highest. After you rate each segment, you mark out your scores, then connect the dots. In the end, you get a web-like diagram that gives you an instant idea of how you’re doing.
The most useful part of the wheel is the visual representation, which gives you a helicopter view of how you’re doing – whether you’re doing very well, okay/normal or poorly. After all, it’s hard to know how you are doing in your overall life when you’re so focused on your day-to-day activities. You may subconsciously know you’re putting an area on hold, but this neglect may not be apparent.
Subsequently, there is no real call to action. The life wheel lets you spot gaps instantly, so you can intervene and work on the low scoring areas before it’s too late.
When I first used the Life Wheel with my clients, I used an 8-segment wheel. But after a while, I realized there were other important areas which were left out in an 8-segment wheel. I have since created an 11-segment wheel, as you can see in the diagram below. These 11 segments are listed in no order of priority as they are all important to live one’s best life:
Image © PE
- Business / Career / Studies - Usually the key segment in our lives. Business is for entrepreneurs, career for employees and studies for students.
- Finance / Wealth – How rich you are. The amount of wealth, assets, material possessions you have.
- Health / Fitness - Your state of health as well as your lifestyle. Diet, sleep, exercise falls here.
- Social / Friends – How you’re faring in your social circle.
- Family - Your parents, siblings, next of kin, relatives, or even your guardians.
- Love - The amount of love you feel in your life. While it can represent the status of your relationship with your spouse / boyfriend / girlfriend, it doesn’t have to be the case. Love here does not refer to romantic love – but about universal love.
- Recreation / Fun – Your recreation and enjoyment in life.
- Contribution – How you’re giving back to the society. Social cause. Humanitarian activities.
- Personal growth – Your personal development as a whole.
- Spiritual – Your connection with the universe. Some call it higher power / God / higher self.
- Self-image – How you see yourself.
I believe no matter who you are, these 11 areas are essential to living your best life. They are representations of the 4 core aspects of every human being – Mind, Body, Heart and Soul.
Some people might feel only certain areas of the wheel apply to them. For example, maybe they think spirituality is unimportant as they’re free thinkers (a common misconception as spirituality refers to your connection to the universe – it has nothing to do with having a religion or not). So they ignore the spiritual aspect of their lives and build the tangible areas like career, love and health.
However, spirituality relates to our Soul and it’s definitely an essential part of living a rich life. So for those who neglect their spirituality and entrench themselves in material goals, there comes a point when they reach a quarter-life or mid-life crisis. They start to seek a deeper meaning behind what they do every day, and wonder what their higher purpose in life is and why they’re here for.
Some people disregard money, saying money is not important and they just want to earn enough to survive. That’s a misnomer though and it’s unfortunate that people think that way. Money is merely a symbol for value in this world. To reject money means to reject giving value to the world. To reject money also means to reject receiving value for your contributions.
In the end it leads to stagnancy in life since this block prevents you from fully receiving and giving. Money also affects what you can do in this world. The more money you have, the more you can do for causes you are passionate in. Money also affects your quality of life.
Some have the impression that I reject money (probably because I quit a well-paying job in the past to pursue my passion from scratch), but that can’t be further from the truth. I quit to achieve the end outcome of passion AND money (which has since manifested itself in my personal development business since I quit), not passion without money. Money is important in my cause (and any other cause you have). With more money, I can kick off more projects, invest in my business (to grow it further) and engage more resources to help more people.
Know that there is abundance in the world. No matter how much money you have now, there’s always room to earn more and achieve more. Simply imagine you have double or triple your wealth now – What would you do with that? It may seem hard to imagine, but that literally means you now have double to triple the resources to achieve your goals. This subsequently means you can achieve at least double to triple the results you currently have in life.
The same goes for people who deny needing recreation/fun, friends, success, family, health, etc. Ultimately all areas on the wheel are important because they are all parts of your life. Disregarding any one area may help you gain headway in other areas initially, but it’ll eventually it’ll put your life on hold. Because by disregarding an area, you disregard a part of yourself and hence your life. I’ve discussed this in detail in the previous post Are You Putting Any Parts of Your Life On Hold? , so if you haven’t read it, do check it out.
Self-image is a new category I added to the Life Wheel. I realized self-image is something which many people lack and something which many have sorely neglected today. Do you respect yourself? Do you love yourself? Do you believe in your capabilities? Do you value what you do? You are the one person who will be with yourself the entire life. If you don’t have a healthy self-image, then who’s going to respect you or appreciate you? If you have a poor self-image, everything will suffer. If you have a strong, healthy self-image, it’ll provide the foundation to excel in life.
Life Wheel Exercise: How Are You Faring in Your Life?
It’s exercise time! Let’s now assess how we’re doing in life. Get your pen and paper ready.
Step 1. Assess Where You Are (30 min)
- Rate your life on each segment, on a scale of 1-10 (1 = lowest, 10 = highest). Below are some questions to think over:
- Business / Career / Studies – How are you performing in this area? Are you achieving your best?
- Finance/Wealth – How much is your income/monthly cash flow? How much do you save from there? How much are your current assets? Do you have any passive income streams?
- Health/Fitness – How healthy are you? Is your life style healthy? Do you have enough sleep/rest? Are you eating healthily? Are you exercising regularly?
- Social/Friends – Do you have a good social circle? Friends to hang out with, talk to, confide in, have fun with? Do you have deep connections with these friends? Are you meeting new people?
- Family – How are your relationships with your family members? Your relatives? Do you talk with them freely? Do you communicate with them openly?
- Love - How much love do you feel in your life now? Love here refers to universal love, and not necessarily romantic love. It’s possible for someone who is single to rate this area highly, just as it is possible that someone is attached and rate this area lowly.
- Recreation/Fun – How much fun are you having?
- Contribution – Are you giving back to the society and the world?
- Personal Growth – Are you growing? Are you achieving your highest potential? Are you being the best you can be?
- Spiritual – How in tuned are you with the universe/your higher self?
Self-image – Do you respect yourself? Do you love yourself? Do you believe in your abilities? Do you value what you do? Do you appreciate yourself?
- Describe why you gave that score to each segment.
- Draw your life wheel like the one below.
- Mark the scores for each segment on the life wheel diagram.
- Connect them. You should have a continuous line, like a web, that links across each segment and finally loops back to the original point.
Part 2: Reflection… (30 min)
Now that you have your life wheel drawn, it’s time to do some reflection.
- What is the shape of your wheel? How does it look? The bigger the web, the better you’re doing. There are 4 general shapes that each represents how you’re doing.
- Why does your wheel look like this? (List 3 biggest reasons) Whatever your life wheel looks like, it’s not a coincidence. If you had done this assessment a month or two ago, you’d end up with a similar shape. The bigger question is: Why? Read the analysis for your wheel shape above, then reflect that to your situation. What are the 3 biggest reasons why your wheel looks like this?
- Which are your lowest scoring areas and why? All 11 segments are equally important in living your best life. Some people may think they can just ignore 3-4 segments and score a 0-1 there – but it doesn’t work that way. Whenever there’s a part of your life that is blocked (or put on hold), a part of you is blocked too. Which segments have the lowest scores? Have you been putting off? Why?
- Are you happy with your wheel? What if you have to stick with these scores forever? How would you feel? Is this what you want? The first step toward getting somewhere is to first decide that you don’t want to stay where you are. The bigger your level of dissatisfaction, the better.
Part 3: Action (30 min)
- What are your biggest priorities moving forward to achieve your ideal 10/10 wheel?
- What are your biggest actions that will help you achieve your goals?
Set your goals and use the Successful Goal Achievement Series: ESPERto help you get started – complete with strategizing, planning, taking action and review. Spend as much time as you need to reflect on your current status. Don’t rush this process. The more you reflect and understand how you came to be where you are, the better you’ll be able to address it moving forward.
1. A constricted web with low scores on most fronts.
This reflects you’re facing a lot of limitations – which are more self-limitations than anything. If you don’t do anything about this, you’ll keep drifting until your life eventually caves in. This is also the day when people suddenly wake up and realize they hate their life.
But I’m sure you don’t want to wait for that day to come. If you have a constricted web, your immediate step should be to select your priority areas and take action on them
2. A lopsided web that’s high on some areas but low on some.
That’s great – you’ve made good headway in some areas. However, you’ve neglected other areas in the process. As we’ve learned, all 11 areas are essential to living your best life. Neglecting any of them only limits your life experience in the long run.
First, mark out the 3-4 areas in which you’re severely underperforming in. Understand why that’s the case. What can you do to bring them back up? Next, identify how you are going to maximize them as you continue to do well in the high scoring areas. We don’t want to neglect the high scoring areas just to bring low scoring areas up – That will just be switching from one problem to the next! The long-term, sustainable solution is to form a plan where you can maximize all areas together.
3. A broad web with general high scores.
This means you’re doing very well! Congratulations!! At the same time, there’s always room to maximize your life. How can you bring it a notch further and max out all your scores to a full circle?
4. A complete circle with full scores.
The ideal life. I see full 10 scores as an ideal to work toward, not a final state. That’s because there is always room to be better. Whenever we get to a 10, we can always find new ways to make it better. This is the beauty of life – there are no limits! What 10 means to us now will be different in a different time. We are the ones who define our limits.
One common misconception people have with the life wheel scores is that low scores represent unhappiness. This can’t be further from the truth. The gaps between our scores and full 10/10s reflect opportunities to grow, not unhappiness. If someone has 9s and 10s, the person is either (i) doing supremely well or (ii) unaware of the possibilities in his/her life – usually the latter than the former, simply because there is infinite potential for betterment in life.
A possible trap someone with 9s/10s will face is a perpetual state of non-growth (because he/she is very contented with the present state). How do we address this then? A simple method is to multiply what you have in your life now (achievements, wealth, productivity, fitness level, quality of your relationships, etc) by a factor of 5 or 10 and ask yourself whether you prefer the magnified scenario or your current one. If you reply the former, you got your answer.
Does it mean that it’s impossible to get full 9s/10s then? Not quite. The 10s represent our highest vision of where we want to be – from our current state. As long as we constantly breaking new grounds and grow, we can perpetually remain in the 9s/10s. This is also known as being in the state of flow.
Life Wheel Video Tutorial
I have created a video with clear step-by-step instructions on how to use the life wheel to live your best life (essentially a condensed, video version of this article): The Life Wheel [Video].
Other Exercises For You To Try Out
If you found the life wheel exercise useful, be sure to check out:
- Writing A Letter To Your Future Self
- Create Your Life Handbook
- Future Prediction Exercise (exclusive article in Personal Excellence Book, Volume 1)
- Live a Better Life in 30 Days Program (Life Wheel is the task for Day 1 out of the 30 day life changing program)
« Prev: Are You Putting Any Parts of Your Life On Hold?
Next: 8 Important Personal Development Lessons To Learn From Inception »