Why the Wheel of Life is the Best Personal Development Tool
Having a purpose only gets you so far. You also need a process for fulfilling it and a way to ensure you are continually making progress.The Wheel of Life is one of the best personal development tools because it helps you do exactly that.
The Wheel of Life is one of the most powerful personal development tools I use in my life and with my life and business coaching clients. Below is a simple example of what the tool looks like on paper.
What is the wheel of life
There are typically three challenges you face when it comes to personal development:
You lack a purpose for your life (or life’s work)
You lack a sound process for realizing your purpose
You lack progress because of self-limiting behaviors
The Wheel of Life is most relevant to step three. You may have a purpose and a process but still be stagnant. That’s because you haven’t gotten granular enough to uncover the significant barriers that are holding you back.
Of all the frameworks I use, this one is the most used and most practical. That’s because it helps you map out each area of your life and easily evaluate whether that area is in line with where you want it to be.
Your level of happiness is directly correlated to the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be, or the difference between your ideal self and how you perceive yourself currently.
Of course the smaller the gap or difference, the happier you are. But many people struggle with enduring happiness because they have a vague understanding of where the gaps exist and just how big they are.
In order to understand your gaps and the levers you need to pull in order to close them, you must have a personal development tool that helps you analyze your different life themes.
There are roughly six life themes that make up the most important areas of a person’s life.
An 80-year Harvard study shows that quality of relationships is one of the most significant contributors to feelings of happiness.
This life theme encompasses all of your human connections and interactions including family and friends, loose connections and acquaintances, as well as romantic relationships with a spouse or partner.
The career theme is related to your professional development no matter if you are an artist, physician, or entrepreneur. Your education and what you’ve chosen as your field of work is included in the career theme.
For some it’s just a job and for others it’s their life's purpose, but what you do for work (and how important you perceive it to be) is a major contributor to happiness.
Health and wellness is the foundation of happiness and includes your physical and mental well-being. Humans strive to survive and thrive, but you can’t do the latter without the former.
Your commitment to self-care has a direct impact on your happiness so it’s of the utmost important to know where you stand with this particular theme.
Living in a capitalist society, most of us equate security with money. Since security is at the base of our hierarchy of needs (just above the basics of food, shelter, and clothing), how we perceive our financial state influences how happy we are.
Your personal interests are the cultural and social activities you like to engage in or what you do for fun and recreation. These hobbies are important because you associate them with relaxation and pleasure.
They are a welcome break from the responsibilities that often cause stress. Therefore, your level of commitment to personal interests factors into feelings of happiness.
This is a broad category that’s related to your overall feelings of progress. Many people have a purpose and equate growth with how well they are manifesting that purpose.
Others equate growth with their spiritual or philosophical beliefs and their ability to deepen their knowledge and practice of the ideals they garner from these doctrines. However you define growth, whether or not you believe you are progressing influences your level of happiness.
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How to manage the wheel of life
The main thing to understand about your life themes is that if any of these areas are significantly out of balance it can hinder your ability to feel happy and content with your life.
For instance, if you are constantly sluggish and groggy because you don't get enough rest, then you are neglecting the theme of health. That neglect impacts other areas (such as poor sleep hurting your ability to focus at work) and hinders you from realizing your potential.
When you aren’t reaching your potential on one or more themes then you aren’t living up to your ideal self. If left unchecked this perpetuates feelings of frustration and discontent (also known as unhappiness).
Different themes may need different amounts of attention at different times so a great way to stay on track is to schedule time to review your Wheel of Life. I personally review my Wheel of Life on a monthly basis.
When you review your Wheel of Life you will think about each of your life themes and rank them (from 1-10, 10 being the highest) according to how happy you are with them and how well they are aligning with your ideal life.
It's not about having a perfect 10 within each dimension of your Wheel of Life: it's about recognizing whether a particular theme needs attention and development because it disproportionately distracts or hinders your progress.
Once you assess each life theme by assigning a value, you should then prioritize the one that you will focus on improving. Prioritization is important because you can’t make major changes in your life at one time or you’ll be stretched thin.
Also, sometimes it’s ok to neglect certain areas so you can go all in on others. There are many times in life where one theme will take absolute precedence over the others, such as when you've just had a child, or if you are in graduate school, or if you are starting a business.
Don’t use the Wheel of Life as a shaming tool to make yourself feel bad about where you are in life. Use it as an empowerment tool to help you figure out the biggest contributors to your happiness and ensure they are being developed.
Work on your wheel of life
I encourage you to carve out an hour this week to create your Wheel of Life and then schedule time monthly (or quarterly) to re-evaluate where you are.
guidance on how to determine your most important life themes
recommendations on how to map your themes to your life's purpose
directions on how to use the ranking system to evaluate each theme
tips on what to do when a particular theme is off-balance or out-of-sync
a blank printable Wheel of Life you can fill in with your own themes and rankings
This tool is what helped me realize that a traditional 9-to-5 job in an office setting was not a conducive environment for nurturing my creative aspirations — and it helped me put a plan in place to address that issue.
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The Wheel of Life has been around for over 1000 years (having roots in Buddhism). When I was first introduced to it during my own life coach training program, I was shocked that such a simple little tactic could yield such profound results.
The Wheel of Life is a way to fulfill your purpose and accomplish your goals in a holistic way. It ensures you stay focused as well as balanced by carefully considering how all of your different life themes work together.
Get help with your Wheel of Life
Though the Wheel of Life is a straightforward personal development tool, understanding how to prioritize your themes may not be as intuitive. This is where a coach could step in to help.
I work with my clients to create an overarching vision for their life and work, then use the Wheel of Life and other frameworks to ensure that any neglect within specific life themes doesn’t sabotage their ability to realize their higher vision.
If you’ve been struggling with finding balance and managing all of the different areas of your life and work, my coaching program could be right for you.
Schedule a complimentary call so we can discuss your goals, aspirations, and challenges and figure out whether a coaching partnership could provide the dedicated support you need.