In today’s hectic, always-on, productivity-focused world, it’s become unfortunately common to feel burned out or out of balance with life. Between work, housework, maintaining relationships, caring for family, caring for yourself, and a multitude of other wants and responsibilities…it’s no wonder that so many of us get caught up just “making it to tomorrow”, and before you know it, you’re stuck feeling drained and disgruntled with no idea how to start fixing it.
If you’re in that boat, the Wheel of Life is the perfect place to start!
The Wheel of Life is an easy and insightful tool that helps you create a happier, more balanced life by taking a 360-degree snapshot of your satisfaction with life at this moment. It’s especially useful for those times you know you want to change something but you’re not sure where to start, because it’s super quick and comprehensive.
It’s so simple, you can even complete it in a few minutes!
How to use the Wheel of Life
- Start with one of our Wheel of Life templates or draw your own wheel separated into 8 slices.
Number each slice with a 1-10 scale, with 1 at the center of the wheel and 10 at the outer edge.
- Label the slices with 8 categories that, together, capture a comprehensive view of your life.
(Tip: You don’t even have to come up with these yourself, if you don’t want to – we’ve created a template with categories filled out for you!)
- Circle the number in each slice that best reflects your current satisfaction with that category.
(1 = completely unsatisfied, 10 = completely satisfied)
- Look at your filled-out wheel as a whole and notice what stands out to you.
Which areas are most important to you? Which are you least vs. most satisfied with?
From there, a world of possibilities is open to you as you embark on your quest for a happy and balanced life! But in case an entire world of possibilities is too much to sift through right now, here are 4 impactful ways to get you started on getting the most out of this simple tool.
#1: Identify areas to focus on improving
Chances are your wheel of life isn’t perfectly round, and that’s normal! Most of us are more satisfied with one part of our lives than another. Some aspects of life are also probably more important to you at the moment than others.
Notice which areas you rated low on satisfaction, especially those that are most important to you. Those areas present the biggest opportunity for positive impact in your life and would make great candidates for focusing your self-development efforts, because an improvement in one of those areas will likely feel very meaningful to you. You might even find that when you improve your quality of life in one of those focus areas, those improvements can cascade into other parts of your life, too!
#2: Bring awareness to beliefs that keep you dissatisfied
Now that you’ve noticed where your wheel is most bumpy, you have an opportunity to dig another level deeper and identify why.
Many times, these bumpy spots represent tradeoffs you’re making in your life. If you believe those tradeoffs are unavoidable, you aren’t alone – considering how prevalent paradigms like the Four Burners Theory or “Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, or Friends: Pick 3” are, it’s pretty clear we can’t be satisfied with everything in life, can we?
You get to decide whether that’s true for you. The first step is identifying what you’re choosing to give up, and what you’re choosing to have. How “worth it” is that tradeoff? What would need to happen for you to be satisfied in both dimensions?
If you feel like you want things that are contradictory or mutually exclusive, try going deeper to identify the underlying desire within each side. You might find that those underlying desires are more compatible than you thought, and there’s a way forward that satisfies both!
A bumpy wheel can also reflect other fundamental beliefs you may or may not realize you have, like:
- “It’s really hard to make friends once you’re out of school.”
- “It’s called ‘work’ for a reason; you’ll always end up doing something you don’t like.”
- “I don’t deserve to have fun until I’ve finished all of my work.”
While each of these beliefs sounds reasonable and can help you in some contexts, they can also hinder you in others. Acknowledging a belief and how it’s affecting your approach to each area of your life gives you the power to choose if you want to change it. That could be just the “aha” moment you need to unlock a new level of fulfillment in life!
#3: Take a magnifying glass to a specific area of your life
The Wheel of Life isn’t just for a high-level view of your entire life. You can use it to zoom in on a slice of your life, too – and you can get as detailed as you like! The key is to always choose a set of 8 categories that is meaningful and comprehensive for your specific topic.
For example, let’s say you’ve completed a general Wheel of Life, and you’ve identified Career as an area of focus. You could do another Wheel of Life just for your career to further home in on a career area to develop! In this wheel, your categories might be:
- Work Relationships
- Growth Potential
- Personal Performance / Technical Skill
- Mission / Fulfillment
Here are a few other example wheels for specific areas of life:
|Relationships||Fun & Enjoyment||Health & Aging||Finances|
|Communication||Relaxation / De-stressing||Emotional Health||Spending|
|Closeness / Intimacy||Inspiration||Energy / Vitality||Retirement|
|Fairness||Culture||Support System||Abundance Mindset|
|Friendship||Spontaneity||Mental Sharpness||Planning & Organization|
|Boundaries||Laughter||Body||Legacy / Beneficiaries|
You can download our Create Your Own Wheel of Life template to create a custom wheel for any specific topic!
#4: Check in on your progress over time
How often have you thought back on the year and couldn’t remember much of what happened? Many of us forget where we were just a few months ago, and without some kind of artifact to remind us, it’s hard to realize how much we’ve grown since then. (Just like those times you’ve had to write an annual self-evaluation and blanked on what to say!)
Not to worry…here’s another way the Wheel of Life shines! Once you’ve filled out your first Wheel of Life, you’ve created a tangible starting point from which to track your self development. Just keep it somewhere handy, and in a few months or a year, fill out the same Wheel of Life again (without looking at your old one – you don’t want to accidentally bias your answers!).
When you’re finished, pull out your old Wheel of Life and compare the two. Here’s some food for thought as you look at them side by side:
- What have you become more satisfied vs. less satisfied with?
- What changes have you made in your life that contributed to your changes in satisfaction with each area?
- What have you learned from making those changes?
- How are you different now from when you last filled out the Wheel of Life?
Don’t forget to celebrate the progress you’ve made – you’ve earned it!
Get started with the Wheel of Life
Ready to jump in? Download one of our easy fillable worksheets below and let us know how it goes!