If someone was to ask you for directions to your house, your first question to them would probably be “where are you now?” Funnily enough, we rarely ask ourselves that question when we are looking to make our lives better.
If we want to map out a fantastic inspiring future for ourselves, it’s vital that the first thing we do is ask ourselves “where am I now?” The Wheel of Life is the best tool for doing this.
Here’s how it works. Draw a circle and divide the circle into 8 pieces, like a pie chart. Now label each of the pieces of the pie. You can choose your own categories, but for the first time you do this, I find these work best:
Health, finances, family, relationships, spirituality, fun, career, mind.
Now, mark how you feel about each of these areas in your life on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s important to mark how you FEEL, not how successful you are. For example, you might have millions in the bank but be constantly stressed about keeping it, so you would give yourself a lower mark than if you were relatively broke but inspired by what you were doing to change that state. Now mark these numbers on the wheel. The centre of the wheel represents zero while the edge represents 10.
Next, join up the marks on the circle and you have your personal Wheel of Life. Now, I’ve never met you, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t give yourself a perfect 10 in any category, let alone all eight of them. If you did I’d like to meet you! No matter how great our life is, we all have areas we’d love to improve – that’s not discontent, that’s human nature! Likewise, however tough your life is, I would hope you didn’t give yourself a zero in everything either! Let’s face it, a zero in health is dead! So now you’ve joined up all the dots, how does your wheel look? Pretty uneven, yes? And if this is the wheel you’re running your life on, is it any surprise things feel a bit bumpy sometimes?
The great thing about the Wheel of Life is you have a picture of what your life looks like right now, and you can use this picture to prioritise which areas you have to work on. Now, it’s human nature to want to spend our time and energy working on the things we enjoy. The result is that we get better at them and enjoy them more, and the more we do this the less time we have to spend on areas that are not so comfortable for us! We’ve all done it in the gym – there are certain exercises we love to do and there are others that we will avoid if at all possible, usually tucked into the end of a workout when we’re tired, and use that as an excuse for not putting our heart and soul into them! But in reality we should be doing these things first, when we are full of energy and enthusiasm, and leave the fun stuff to the end. Success expert Brain Tracy says “If you have to eat a frog today, do it first thing and get it over with – the rest of your day can only get better!”
The Wheel of Life shows you very clearly which areas do need working on first. Which areas are out of balance? The next stage is the fun part. Take a look at your lowest scoring area and try to imagine what it would look like if it was a perfect 10. What would you be doing, thinking, feeling? Don’t be afraid to think big here, all the most exciting goals are the big ones, the ones that look just a little bit scary! Think about it carefully and write it all down in as much detail as possible. This is what you are aiming for. Now, looking at that area of your life today, make a list of all the things that will have to change in order for you to get there. At this stage don’t think about how you are going to be able to do it, or you’ll probably get overwhelmed and give up before you’ve even started! Instead just think about what, in theory, would you have to do. For example, if you were to say “If I was a perfect 10 in health I would be able to compete in a triathlon” one of the “whats” would be to get fit enough to do it, another would be to find out how long it would take to get that fit. If you thought at this stage of HOW you were going to go from couch potato to triathlete you would never even try! Only once you have exhausted all the “whats” do you start looking at how you might achieve them. Go through all eight areas of your life and do the same thing for each one.
Now, there’s no way you can work on all eight areas at once no matter how good your time management is! So be disciplined and work on your lowest scoring areas first, and when you get tired or stressed spend some time in the higher scoring areas to restore your energy and confidence.
I recommend you redo your Wheel of Life every couple of months. Have you ever watched a tightrope walker on the high wire? They may look totally balanced but if you watch them closely they are making constant tiny movements to adjust their stability. And life is like that, when you are moving towards your goals you have to be constantly checking you are on course and staying in balance. This way, you never get too far off course before you realise it, and the corrections you need to make are small and relatively easy.