I have never been the biggest fan of New Year resolutions, purely due to the short lifespan they seem to hold.
Research by Strava recently found that in 2020, Sunday 19th January is the day when most people will give up on their resolutions.
In another research, HelloFresh discovered 40% of New Year’s Resolutions have already failed by this point, despite our best intentions.
There are quite a few ways you can go about planning your new year and setting meaningful intentions, and one of them is known as the Wheel of Life® (or Life Wheel).
The original concept of The Wheel of Life is attributed to the late Paul J. Meyer who founded the Success Motivation® Institute in 1960, and created an array of programs and tools for leaders worldwide. Commonly used by life coaches, it highlights each area of your life in turn in order to assess which areas need more attention.
As an element of reflection, the tool is used mainly to identify what we need to do when life is out of balance, for instance, when the wheel shows us that all our attention is going to work and we are ignoring our health or needs for fun and recreation.
A lot of coaches use it successfully with clients, and in this case, we are cutting down on the middle man by allowing you to do this assessment by yourself.
It’s a great nifty exercise that also helps you outline your core values as well as understanding how you can create a life that can best lead you to meeting your ultimate goals - yes, it’s quite powerful stuff.
When it comes to the Life Wheel, you can follow the standard areas you should focus on, however, I’m more of the school of thought of choosing the core areas based on your personal and professional values.
How do you go about finding your values? If you have not done this already, it may be time for you to outline what are the values you stand by on both a professional and a personal level.
I love to get a piece of paper and draw a line to create two columns. One column should be for your personal values (family, connection, freedom) and one for your professional values (success, space, flexibility).
Exercise: once you have outlined the top 5 values for each column, I want you to compare your answers. What is overlapping, and what is clashing? How can you make sure these values work together, instead of working against each others?
Once you know what values matter most to you, it’s time to fill your wheel. The idea is to helps you to identify areas that need more attention, so getting clear on the values will help you map out only the areas of your life that truly resonate with you.
The circle represents your life, the whole of you. The pieces of the pie, or spokes, are the parts of your life: the areas, roles, or aspects of the whole.
A few approaches have been used in the past, including the “roles” you fulfil in your life (mother, manager, daughter etc) or the areas that matter to you the most (family, work, creativity).
In my case, I love to use the values I would find from the exercise I mentioned earlier in the piece, since they would represent my prioritises in my personal and professional life.
Examples would be
- Personal: relationships, movement, spiritual wellbeing
- Professional: freedom, creativity, connections
By using a wheel, you get a clear representation of the way your life is currently, as opposed to the way you'd ideally like it to be. The concept can be adapted to the way you want to highlight your focus. Some people love to use numbers (from 1-10 to rate each area) others use a traffic light system instead.
Exercise: map out your wheel and start adding the areas you want to focus on. You can consider each in turn and rate them based on the amount of attention you're devoting to that area of your life, how much you feel aligned with each value (for example freedom and creativity).
It’s time to get honest now: I hate to break it to you, but it’s unlikely you’ll be scoring a 10 in every single area any time soon.
Truly, what you are looking for is to be able to have a balanced spread across the board. Some coaches recommend joining all the marks together from each area to see if they are all in balance.
Yet, I believe what is truly important is to take the time to ask yourself:
Am I happy with the balance I see across the different areas of my life? Which areas need more attention and focus right now?
Action step: Write down for each area the one step you can take to make improvements for yourself, and work on them for the next 30 days.
When one aspect of your life becomes the focus and the others are neglected, the wheel is out of balance. We know what happens to an out-of-balance wheel. It gets wobbly and is likely to crash. Our wheel, your life, needs to be balanced around the center. But what’s at the center of your life, the most important thing? I personally run this exercise every 90 days to get clearer on my goals. You may want to do this every single month, and that is also fine.
Being able to look over and assess what works for you it’s key when it comes to creating a more balanced life overall. The real balance is the one that allows you to fill your life with more than one area. First, you have to decide what you want to fill your wheel with.
Truth is, many people are looking to have a very “unbalanced” life. Don’t roll your eye just yet. Hear me out.
The real goal of “balance” is to experience happiness on a daily basis. Today my slice of happiness was a long run. Tomorrow it may be work.
Rethink was a balanced wheel means and tailor it to you, in order to truly achieve happiness every day.