The Wheel of Life / Photo by Jonas Von Werne on Unsplash
Follow these 6 simple steps to use the Wheel of Life and live a balanced life
Different areas will gain or lose relevance in our life, depending on the stage we are in. The proper use of the Wheel of Life® can help us decide where to focus in each moment to live a balanced life.
Life is a complex endeavour, and living a happy and fulfilling life is not easy. We don’t have the same needs in our 20s or 50s. Different areas call for our attention at different times, and our resources are limited and finite.
Where should you focus your attention?
The Wheel of Life, a simple tool created by Paul J. Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute, Inc., can help us find a balance.
Let’s look at how to use it in 6 simple steps.
Step 1 – Create your Wheel of Life
The first step will be to create your own Wheel of Life.
You can make it yourself by drawing it on paper or designing it on your computer. There are plenty of apps helping users do it and templates of it on websites like Mindtools or Wheel of Life.
It should look like a wheel with several spokes, like the picture below. The number of spokes will depend on the number of areas you choose for your wheel.
Step 2 – Choose your areas of focus
You should choose between 6 and 8 areas of focus.
These are the areas that are most important to you. They should reflect what it means for you to have a balanced life.
The usual suspects would be family, love, health, career, and the like. You get the point.
In my case, I decided to go with these 8:
- Purpose and meaning
- Writing and creativity
Most of them are self-explanatory, but others aren’t that obvious, so let me briefly explain why they are here.
Love and family are related but not the same.
I love my friends and family members, but here by love I mean just romantic love: deciding to be in a relationship or not, enjoying that relationship, etc. I haven’t formed my own family yet, so family relates to my parents, brothers, nephews and nieces, who are all important for me.
Many people have a spoke called spirituality or religion in their wheel. I am not religious, and I don’t like the connotations of the word spirituality, so I preferred to settle with Purpose and Meaning. After all, it is just about that, about finding a meaning to this thing called life and finding my purpose in it.
Writing and creativity are essential for me right now, so I have decided to include them too. For you, this could be something else altogether: travelling, exploring new things, volunteering and community work, politics, or whatever rocks your boat.
Step 3 – Rate the importance each of these areas has currently in your life
All these areas are important, but we need to make some choices.
If they weren’t important, you wouldn’t have included them here (and if you have, but they aren’t, please take them out).
Not all of them will have the same importance for you, depending on your taste and the stage of life you are in.
If you have recently been a mother or father for the first time, family will probably be vital for you. If you are starting your career, it may take centre stage. Or if you just found the love of your life, love may take precedence over all the rest.
See my ratings below.
- Love – 7
- Family – 6
- Friends – 7
- Health – 7
- Purpose and meaning – 9
- Career – 6
- Writing and creativity – 8
- Learning – 7
These are my particular ratings at this moment in my life. Family and career are important, so they are included here, but they don’t need special attention right now and can take a back seat.
Lately, I have felt lost regarding my purpose and meaning in life. This has created some anxiety, so this is now an important area I am focusing on.
My thoughts on the matter have made me realise that writing and bringing out my creativity help me achieve that purpose. They are an essential part of my path to self-actualisation and a happy and fulfilling life, so the scores here are higher than in other areas at the moment.
These are my ratings today. They would have been different a couple of years ago and may differ again in a couple of years. That’s called life.
Yours will probably be different.
Step 4 – Rate your current focus
Some proponents of the wheel skip steps 2 and 3 and go straight to step 4, always using the same areas and without rating their importance.
I think that’s the wrong way to do this exercise.
If I had used the same default areas that some propose, the one on writing and creativity wouldn’t have been there. Also, if you don’t rate their importance, you are implying they all deserve the same attention, which isn’t correct.
Once we have rated their importance for us at this moment, we need to rate our current focus on them. An area might be essential for you, but you might realise you are not paying enough attention to it.
This is one of the main advantages of using this tool. It makes you realise where you are lacking focus and what areas you are neglecting.
For this rating exercise, think about the time you dedicate to each focus area and how much of your headspace they take.
Here you go my ratings:
- Love – 8
- Family – 6
- Friends – 4
- Health – 7
- Purpose and meaning – 8
- Career – 6
- Writing and creativity – 7
- Learning – 5
I have rated low in Friends for several reasons, but mainly because I don’t see my friends as much as I used to or wished.
I have also rated Learning low. I am learning new things, reading and doing online courses on things that interest me, but I could learn much more. That’s why it is just scraping a 5.
Step 5 – Compare the ratings
The next step is to compare the ratings between the importance and current focus to find discrepancies.
If, like me, you rated Friends as important, but your current focus is low, that would be one of the focus points.
The opposite might also happen. You might score something as not so important and realise that you are spending too much time and attention on it at the moment.
The objective is to find balance in your life, and you do that by making sure that you spend more time on the things that are important to you.
Step 6 – Make an action plan and execute it
The last step is an evident one, but it is often forgotten. You need to make an action plan with the knowledge you have just gained and make sure you execute it.
Looking at my wheel, you will find discrepancies between the ratings, especially in Friends, Purpose, Writing and Learning.
These should be the focus areas of my action plan.
I will make sure that my plan has some specific actions to spend more time with friends, focus even more on my purpose and meaning, practice my writing and dedicate more time to learning new skills and acquiring knowledge.
Then I will make sure I execute the plan. An action plan with no action is useless; it’s just an empty declaration of intentions.
I will follow up on my plan and make changes accordingly. Life always throws surprises at you, so it doesn’t pay to be too rigid with any plan.
Be flexible with your plan, but have clear what its end goals are, and what areas of your life you want to focus on and make sure you do, one way or the other.
Living a balanced life
Life is complicated but, at the same time, simple.
Some things are more important than others, but for some reason, we often spend a big chunk of our time on things that aren’t so important to us.
For example, I used to spend hours a day scrolling on my phone. That was useless and something I didn’t really want to do, so I stopped doing it after I realised what I was doing. But it took me some time.
The Wheel of Life allows us to visually look at our priorities in life and our current focus on them and adjust accordingly.
It is a simple exercise, but it can be potent.
Next time you feel your life is escaping through your fingers and you aren’t living a balanced life, stop for a moment and use the Wheel of Life.
Hopefully, it should help you to conduct a balanced, happier and more fulfilling life.
It helped me.