It is time we gave ourselves a break. The person on the planet that perpetually gives us the hardest time is ourselves. We are all very skilled and highly practiced at beating ourselves up and I believe it is high time we stopped. In this article I will share a deceptively simple tool that was originally created by Paul J. Meyer, founder of Success Motivation® Institute, Inc. and is designed to help us do just that.
Take a moment to answer these simple questions:
- Name the five wealthiest people in the world?
- Name last years best actor or actress at the academy awards?
- Name five people who have won the Nobel peace prize?
Most of us can get a few of these answers correct, but not all, yet these people are the best in their field. They are applauded by the press and media,but the applause dies, the awards tarnish and their achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Now try this, see if you can answer these simple questions:
- Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile?
- Name three friends who helped you through a difficult period in your life?
- Name someone who made you feel appreciated and special?
This is a lot easier. The lesson here is that the people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They are the ones that care and it is high time we started to take good care of ourselves.
I first came across the Wheel of Life tool in a Mastery of Self course I attended in Sri Lanka over 15 years ago. The course was challenging as it had us addressing some core questions about the way we lived our lives and encouraged us to seek healthier alternatives. At the time I was travelling a lot on business and when I was not working I was frantically busy at home with two young daughters. My life was all a bit of a whirl. One question we were asked to discuss in the course was what did happiness mean to us, how we define it and how do we recognise it when it occurs? The fact I was discussing these issues with people whose day-to-day lives were so far removed from my own made the learning’s all the more powerful. I was left feeling humbled by my fellow classmates aspirations, they wanted things in their life that I simply took for granted. It really made me stop and think.
I explain the context for the ‘Wheel of Life’ tool as it gives you some semblance of why it was so memorable for me and why I have used it to reflect and set my life goals every 6 months since.
The metaphor of the tool is simple. The wheel helps to balance and move something and in this case that something is you.
The first step is to divide our lives into segments or areas, as many or as few as we like, I usually use around 8, but anywhere between 6 to 10 should suffice. Each segment represents something in our lives that is important to us at the current time.The next step is to write down a sentence or two that describes what a score of ’10’ looks like for each segment. This represents what we consider to be the ideal state for each segment at this stage in our lives. This is harder to do than it sounds. It is tempting to write down statements that are hopelessly aspirational, but I find these are counter-productive as they simply demotivate rather than energise. The challenge is to define a score of ’10’ that is stretching, highly desirable yet attainable within around 6 to 12 months.
Once this is done you can score each segment relative to you score of ’10’ and join the dots so you have a ‘spiders web’ showing your current life balance. Like a wheel, if the resulting shape is round then your journey through the next 6 – 12 months will be smooth. If it is shaped like a cam then progress will be possible but be prepared for a bumpy journey! To balance the wheel take a look at each segment and consider what actions will you start, stop, do more and do less and write down a few actions that you have the will and the energy to take that will result in a more balanced wheel of life in the future.
This whole exercise is best done in a reflective mood. It is in essence a tool to help you take a proper ‘time-out’ and stop the world long enough for you to draw breath and re-connect with what is really important in your life. As such I usually do this at the start of a new year and in the mid-year holiday break when the pressures, clutter and general hub bub of day to day life has naturally died down.
Like all personal development tools, this is only a tool. and is only as good as the quality of the thinking that you apply. Over the last 15 years I have found it personally very useful and have used it to help me through some tough times. I also use it in most of my coaching work when my coachee is feeling under pressure and their lives are out of kilter. Worryingly this is true for most of the people I work with, which speaks volumes for the type of organisations we have created and the frantic lives we all lead.
If you want to get more information or help to get your life back into balance then please contact me I will be delighted to help.