We all love (or feel forced) to improve some parts of life more than others.
And that’s fine… For a while… But it can also create major issues.
It’s a familiar story. We become skilful in some areas (e.g., Business & Career, Wealth & Lifestyle), which makes us favour them further.
Meanwhile, we neglect other areas (e.g., Health & Vitality, Love & Partnership) where our lack of practice makes progress harder and the rewards less convincing.
But there are two problems here. First, the drag from our weakest areas checks and then limits our best ones. And second, we lose control of our lives. By treating some parts like bad city postcodes, we no longer move freely or explore all that life has to offer.
The solution? Reach for a Wheel of Life – one of the most basic and powerful tools you can turn to when trying to live a more balanced life. A tool that gives you a rapid 360 snapshot of how things are going so you can confront and then upgrade your limiting factors.
What is the Wheel of Life?
The Wheel of Life is a handy, visual way to compare different areas of life and get a quick idea of how (un)balanced we are.
Here’s one I filled out earlier from page 6 of The Art of Living‘s TRACKTION Planner:
How should you read it? A great way to evaluate your Wheel of Life is to ask yourself, “How smooth would my ride be if my results were the wheels of a bicycle?”
In the picture above, the rider on the left is clearly going to have a bumpier ride than the rider on the right. So, from a “balance” perspective, the rider on the right has a stronger life balance wheel, even if their individual scores have decreased in a couple of areas.
How to pick Wheel of Life categories.
You’ll find many different variations on the Wheel of Life.
Whether you use an existing framework or come up with your own, there are three important criteria you should keep in mind. Your Wheel of Life categories should be:
- Holistic – Giving a full 360-perspective of all areas of life;
- Equivalent – Each of roughly the same size and importance; and
- Thoughtfully-Ordered – To highlight trends in your wheel.
Let’s use an example to illustrate.
The Art of Living‘s in house life-management philosophy (TRACKTION) splits life into four pillars and eight sub-categories:
Hopefully, you’ll agree that the categories are holistic, equivalent and thoughtfully-ordered – they do a good job at fulfilling our three criteria.
If they weren’t holistic, we’d have a problem because our lives could still be unbalanced even if our Wheel of Life assessment scores were in harmony.
If they weren’t equivalent, we’d be in trouble because high-scores in less-important areas might cover up a low score in a single more important area.
And if they weren’t thoughtfully-ordered, it would be hard to spot trends in one of the broader pillars (Health, People, Growth, Wealth) since their component sub-categories would be scattered randomly over different parts of the wheel.
(N.B., If you haven’t got one yet, you’ll find a blank Wheel of Life template as well as one with TRACKTION’s time-tested Wheel of Life in TAoL‘s FREE productivity templates.)
How to complete your Wheel of Life.
In the next few sections, I’m going to refer mostly to the TRACKTION Planner‘s Wheel of Life but the lessons here are relevant no matter whose wheel you use or what categories you end up with.
Completing your Wheel of Life assessment and transforming your lowest scoring area has three steps:
- Give each of TRACKTION’s core areas a satisfaction score from 1 to 10;
- Identify which area you’re least satisfied with; and
- Make this your area of focus for the next four weeks.
To transform this area of life, and make that change stick, your first habit, value, metric and daily priority action (e.g., pages 7, 8, 9 and 49 in the planner), should all seek to improve it for the next 28 days.
Simple. And yet it’s common to get stuck or overthink the process.
Here are a few tips that may help…
Step 1: Think trajectory rather than status.
Ask: “How satisfied am I with the progress I’m making in this area of life?”
You could be debt-ridden, jobless and destitute, but if you feel like Wealth & Lifestyle is moving steadily in the right direction, it might score an 8 out of 10.
Likewise, you could be a billionaire, but if things are rapidly falling apart, Wealth & Lifestyle might score a 2.
Step 2: Trust your instincts.
Spend no more than 5 – 10 seconds scoring each area.
If you like, use a pencil or erasable pen, then, when you’re done, review the overall picture to sense-check and correct it.
If you’ve got time to spare, spend it visualising what 10 out of 10 looks like in each of TRACKTION’s core areas instead of agonizing over whether one score is a 6 or a 7. (N.B., for more guidance on this, see the TRACKTION Masterclass)
The more time you spend clearly defining success in each area of your life, the more accurate and useful your scores will become.
Step 3: Give preference to the start of the life wheel.
It’s not uncommon to find yourself with two equally low scoring areas.
In that case, imagine the Wheel of Life is a clock. Health & Vitality is the most important area. Wealth & Lifestyle is the least important area. The remaining areas become less important as you rotate clockwise between them.
For example, if both Friends & Family and Love & Partnership score a low of 4 out of 10 then Friends & Family becomes your lowest scoring area for the next 28 days.
TIP: That doesn’t mean you couldn’t use some of the extra habit, value and metric slots to also address Love & Partnership. It’s just not your primary focus – for now.
Step 4: Don’t overthink definitions.
I’ve intentionally avoided defining TRACKTION’s core areas. Partly because they’re self-explanatory. Partly because it lets you choose how and where to draw boundaries.
That said, if you’re lost, here are 8 areas of life I use:
- Health & Vitality – Your physical body, wellness, energy, fatigue, fitness and appearance.
- Thoughts & Emotions – How you see, feel about and respond to yourself and life situation.
- Friends & Family – The meaningful community and social relationships that aren’t…
- Love & Partnership – The person who’s not just part of your life, they’re part of you.
- Growth & Learning – Experiences that teach you about and new ways of seeing the world.
- Productivity & Performance – The engine, systems and processes that manage your life.
- Business & Career – The main way you invest time in return for income or impact.
- Wealth & Lifestyle – Your remaining pastimes, promises and possessions.
People sometimes ask why there’s no spiritual element to TRACKTION. My view is that spirituality is more “How” than “What”. Formal practices fit comfortably within the framework. For the rest, I challenge you to show compassion, be present with and fully express your actions within each current area.
If you succeed, tell me how. And rest assured, no matter your philosophical standpoint, that you’ve reached a level of spirituality beyond 99.9% of people past, present and future.
(N.B., If you’re consistently scoring 8+ out of 10 in every area, to dig deeper, to visualise success more clearly or to better connect these areas to your mission and next actions, you may want to explore the TRACKTION Masterclass.)
Next actions for greater life balance.
Completing this Wheel of Life exercise regularly is a powerful practice.
It forces a whole-life perspective. And there’s only so often you can see the same areas suffering before taking steps to improve them.
Why is that so important? Because the areas most holding you back limit everything. And repeatedly confronting those limiting factors won’t just give you control of your life – it’ll make you a more balanced, more confident and happier person.
The Wheel of Life is the first step on that journey. The rest of the TRACKTION Planner is designed to help you break through your limiting factors and make that change stick. (N.B., You’ll also find a blank Wheel of Life template as well as one with TRACKTION’s time-tested Wheel of Life in TAoLTAoL‘s FREE productivity templates)
To fill out your first Wheel of Life worksheet, turn to page 6 and get scoring.
And if you haven’t got your first planner yet? No problem. You can order one here.