A word that arises for many different reasons here at the retreat is balance. Balance is elusive to many of us because of the often competing demands from family, work and other areas of our life.
The best and simplest method we have found to help you step back and check if your life is in balance is the wheel of life exercise. The wheel of life exercise also gives you a structure for thinking about how to put your life back into balance again.
The wheel of life is an exercise which is great to do once a year as it gives a wonderful visual as to not only how balanced your life is but also how satisfied you are in all areas of your life.
You start the wheel of life by getting yourself a fresh sheet of paper and drawing a big circle. Divide the circle into two by drawing a line through the middle, then into four and then into eight equally sized segments. Imagine the lines in the circle are spokes on a wheel and label each spoke of your wheel with the following eight categories:
Career, Finances, Family, Health, Contribution, Spirituality, Fun, Key Relationships
Then mark on your first spoke of your wheel a scale from 0 to 10. Say your first spoke is Career then answer the following question: How satisfied am I in the area of career right now? Mark your level of satisfaction on a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is “couldn’t feel any less satisfied” and 10 is “couldn’t be any more satisfied” and put a cross on the career spoke of your wheel (0 is at end of the spoke closest to the centre of the wheel and 10 is at the far end). See the picture accompanying this article for an illustration of a completed wheel of life.
Continue around the wheel and ask the same question for each area of your life (and for each mark from 0 to 10). Once you have placed a mark on your wheel for each of the eight areas of life you are then in a position to join up the crosses to create your wheel (see illustration).
From this wheel it is very easy to spot visually where your life is out of balance because there will be some funny shapes which emerge. The more balanced your life is, the smoother your wheel will be. Clearly to have a great balanced life, what we want is to have a wheel which is fairly big and as smooth/round as possible.
The second part of the exercise comes next. We now go back to the first spoke of the wheel (say Career) and ask: How satisfied do I want to be in this area of my life in 12 months time? Again we mark this on a scale of 0 to 10. Note that it is important for us to be realistic here. For example, realise that if you have a low score (say a 2) and you want to increase this significantly (say to a 9) then this is going to take you a tremendous amount of effort during the year; and putting a large amount of effort into one part of your life may have a detrimental effect in other areas. Notice therefore that it is realistic to keep a score unchanged if you are not intending to focus significantly on that area over the next year. Continue around your wheel once again and put your scores down for 12 months time. Join together these marks in a different colour. Hopefully this new wheel is smoother and larger.
The final part of the wheel of life exercise is to go back to the first spoke in your wheel and write down at least once action point you need to take to bring you from where you are now to where you want to be in 12 months. This could be the first thing you need to do (or your first decision required) or the most important thing you need to do. Complete this last part of the exercise for each of the eight spokes of your wheel. Note that even if your goal is to maintain your level of satisfaction in one or more areas ask yourself what you will need to do to maintain this level.
By doing this exercise you may have found more clarity on your ongoing journey of finding balance and satisfaction in your life! Keep this wheel in a safe place, and repeat the exercise again in 12 months; just notice how your wheel may have changed (or not changed). We love to hear from you at La Crisalida, so let us know how this exercise went for you and what your priorities are for the next 12 months.