Today I’d like to talk about the life wheel. It’s one of the tools I use in my coaching and will be an essential tool in your growth journey.
What is the Life Wheel?
The Life Wheel is a tool that gives you a snapshot of how you’re doing in your life now. It is essentially a circle divided into segments, usually 8, that represent the key areas of your life. Here’s a sample diagram:
There are many variants of the life wheel, with common segments being career/studies, family, love, friends, finance, and health. The remaining few are more varied. They can be recreation, spiritual, or others.
Each segment comes with a scale of 0-10 where you rate how well you are doing in it right now. 0 is the lowest score and 10 is the highest score. After you rate each segment, you mark out your scores on the wheel and connect the dots. At the end, you will get a web-like diagram that gives you a visual representation of how you’re doing in life.
The most useful part of the life wheel is the visual representation of how you’re doing in life. After all, it’s hard to know how you’re doing in your life when you’re focused on day-to-day tasks. You may subconsciously know that you’re putting an area of your life on hold, but this neglect may not be obvious. Subsequently, you have no real call to action.
The life wheel lets you spot gaps in your life right away so that 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. After a while though, I realized that there are other important areas that are left out in an 8-segment wheel. I have since created a 10-segment wheel as you can see in the diagram below. These 10 segments are listed in no priority order as they are all important to live your best life:
- Career/Business/Studies — The name of this segment depends on what’s applicable to you now. Use ‘Career’ for employees, ‘Business’ for entrepreneurs, and ‘Studies’ for students. This is considered a crucial segment as work/studies makes up a big portion of our waking lives.
- Finance — How you’re doing in your finances.
- Health —Your physical health as well as your lifestyle. Diet, sleep, rest, and exercise fall under here.
- Social — How you’re doing socially. Do you have friends? Do you have positive, like-minded friends whom you can talk to about anything?
- Family — Your relationship with your family members.
- Love — If you’re in a relationship, this represents your satisfaction with your relationship. If you’re single, it represents the amount of love you feel in your life and how vibrantly you’re living your life as a single. Just because you’re single doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically get a 0/10; similarly just because you are with someone doesn’t mean that you’ll get a 10/10. A single can rate him/herself highly here just as someone in a relationship can rate him/herself lowly here.
- Recreation — Whether you have the space to explore your hobbies and interests outside of work.
- Contribution — How much you’re giving back. How you are caring for the world and environment. Social causes fall under here.
- Spirituality — Your connection with the universe and your higher self. Contrary to common belief, this has nothing to do with having a religion. How connected are you with the spiritual aspect of life?
- Self-image — Your self-image. This includes your body image and self-confidence.
No matter who you are, these 10 areas are essential to live your best life. It is through these 10 areas that we develop our Mind, Body, Heart and Soul.
Some people may feel that only certain areas of the life wheel apply to them. For example, they may think that spirituality is unimportant to them as they’re free thinkers. This is a misconception as spirituality refers to your connection with the universe — it has nothing to do with having a religion. So they ignore the spiritual aspect of their lives and build on tangible areas like career and health.
However, spirituality relates to our soul and it’s an essential part of living a full life. For those who neglect their spirituality, there comes a point when they feel empty about life. What’s the meaning of life? Why am I here? This is when they start to look for a deeper meaning behind their existence.
Some people disregard money, saying that money is not important. That’s a misconception though. Money is merely a symbol for value in today’s world. While not a perfect measure of the value one gives, money is the currency that people use today in the exchange of goods and services. When you reject money, you’re rejecting the act of receiving value for your work. In the long run, rejecting money makes it difficult for you to achieve your long-term goals because you lack the monetary resources to do so.
The same goes for people who deny needing friends, family, love, contribution, rest, or even a passion-filled career. Ultimately, all areas of the life wheel are important because they are parts of your life. Disregarding any one area may help you gain headway in other areas initially but it’ll eventually cause you to put your life on hold. Because by disregarding a life area, you disregard a part of yourself and hence your life. I’ve discussed this in detail in my post Are You Putting Any Parts of Your Life On Hold? so if you haven’t read it, do check it out.
With self-image, I realized that it is something that many people neglect 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 you in your entire life. If you don’t have a healthy self-image, then who’s going to respect or appreciate you? If you have a poor self-image, everything else will suffer. On the other hand, when you have a strong, healthy self-image, it provides you with the foundation to excel in life.
Exercise: Assess Your Life with the Life Wheel
It’s exercise time! 😀 Let’s now assess how you’re doing in life. Get your pen and paper ready.
Step 1: Assess your life (20 min)
- Rate how you are doing in each segment on a scale of 0-10 (0 = lowest, 10 = ideal state). Use the questions below as a guide.
- Career — How are you performing in your career/studies? Are you developing and growing to your highest self through work/education? If you are running a business or planning to start one, how are you doing in your business goals?
- Finance — How are you doing financially? Do you have money to pursue your goals? Do you like the place you live in?
- Health — How healthy are you? Do you have a healthy lifestyle? Do you get enough sleep? Are you eating what’s best for your body? Do you exercise regularly?
- Social — Do you have like-minded friends? Friends you can easily talk to, confide in, and seek help from? Do you have deep connections with these people?
- Family — How is your relationship with your family? Do you spend enough time with them?
- Love — If you are in a relationship, how happy are you with it? If you are single, are you living your life vibrantly as a single?
- Recreation — Do you have time to explore your other passions and interests?
- Contribution — Are you giving back to the world? Does your lifestyle (energy consumption patterns, carbon footprint, lifestyle habits) have a negative, neutral, or positive effect on our environment?
- Spirituality — How connected are you with your higher self and the universe?
- Self-image — How confident are you? Do you respect and love yourself?
- Write down why you gave that score. Feel free to write as much or as little as you want.
- Draw a circle and divide it into 10 equal segments, like so:
- Mark out the scores for each segment on the diagram.
- Then, connect them! You should have a continuous line that links segment to each other and loops back to the original point.
Different Life Wheel Shapes
There are 4 possible shapes you can get. Generally, the bigger the web, the better you’re doing, though there are exceptions as I share below.
1. A constricted web with low scores on most fronts
This means that you’re facing a lot of limitations right now. Perhaps you have been putting many goals on hold. Perhaps you’ve been compromising on your goals due to your life circumstances or your own limiting beliefs. Reflect on this. Is this true?
Yet without fixing this, you’ll keep shirking in your goals until you are backed into a corner with nowhere to go.
If you have a constricted web, examine it closely. What restrictions are you facing? Are they external, self-imposed, or both? How can you address them?
2. A lopsided web that’s high in some areas but low in 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 10 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 the 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 the areas together.
3. A broad web with general high scores
This means you’re doing very well! This is fantastic work and a testament to all the hard work you’ve been putting in. Congratulations!!
At the same time, there’s always room to improve. Be careful of what I call the complacency and self-contentment trap. With the complacency trap, people rate themselves highly and feel that there’s nothing left to improve because they are doing so well — when growth is a never-ending journey, and we can always do better. With the self-contentment trap, people focus too much on feeling happy despite glaring issues in their life, to the point of where they make do and develop an elaborate network of beliefs to convince themselves that they are “happy” when deep down, they are not.
Remember that no matter what we are doing, there is always room to improve. A thriving business can always grow further. A relationship that is great can always be better. It’s fantastic that you are having such high scores in your life now. Moving forward, how can you take things to the next level? How can you create that next big height in your life?
4. A complete circle with full scores
Last but not least, the full circle — your ideal life. Here, full 10/10 scores are more like ideals to work toward vs. a permanent end state that you reach and declare yourself “done.”
Meaning, just because you rate yourself 10/10 now doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be this score forever. For example, maybe you give your relationship with your partner a 10/10 today — doesn’t mean it’ll be 10/10 forever. You still need to put in the work to build your relationship and grow in love with your partner. Also, perhaps your 10/10 now is to enjoy your relationship with your partner. 5 years down the road, perhaps you want to start a family together.
In that sense, 10/10 is a constantly evolving vision. As you grow and achieve your goals, your definition of 10/10 will naturally expand too.
Step 2: Reflection… (20 min)
Now that you have drawn your life wheel, it’s time to do some reflection.
- What is the shape of your wheel? Refer to the 4 shapes above and pick the closest one. Whatever your life wheel looks like, it’s not a coincidence. If you had done this assessment a month or two ago, you’d have ended up with a similar shape. The bigger question is, why? Read my analysis for your wheel shape above and apply that to your situation. What are the three biggest reasons your wheel looks like this?
- Which are your lowest scoring areas? Why do you think this is the case? All 10 segments are equally important in living your best life. Some people may think that they can 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 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 this wheel forever? How would you feel? Is this what you want? Would you be happy? Be honest with yourself.
Part 3: Action (20 min)
- Moving forward, what are your biggest priorities to achieve your ideal 10/10 wheel?
- What are the biggest action steps you can take to achieve your goals?