What Is The Balance Wheel & How Do I Use It?
When you’re feeling overwhelmed with life, it can be really hard to know where to start. Suddenly the sofa and Netflix seem ten times more appealing and another day/week/month have sped past.
See, that’s OK sometimes. I’m never going to be the coach to tell you to go out and hustle every day. It’s just not me. I’m pretty gentle on myself, but I also know when I’m BSing myself and I need to get the ball rolling again.
When I feel that way, I find The Balance Wheel to be a really good starting point and it’s something I use with my 1:1 coaching clients too, so I thought I’d share what it is and why I think it’s a useful coaching tool with you today.
What is the Balance Wheel?
So first things first, the Balance Wheel is a simple exercise where there are 8 different areas of your life listed and you give each one a value between 1 and 10 to show how satisfied you are with that area.
The 8 areas are health, personal growth, physical environment, friends & family, fun & recreation, career, money and relationship so consider each one in turn, and give it a number. Whether you choose to draw it out like I do in my bullet journal or do a quicker version, it doesn’t matter how it looks, just that you have your numbers to work with.
What do I do once I have the numbers?
The numbers you give it each area are just your starting point. They’ll give you an idea of where you’re loving life and where things are decidedly meh. The aim of the exercise isn’t to have everything rated a 10. It’s not realistic for everything to be awesome all the time, and it’s natural to have times when things aren’t peachy.
In the example I’ve posted above, fun and recreation is my lowest score, followed by health, money and friends & family. It’s not that I’m really struggling with any one of those areas, just that I have a baby who takes up a lot of my time, energy and attention. Oh and money too. Seeing it in front of me in this way meant that I knew what I wanted to change in the coming months without any dithering about what I should do.
Don’t aim for perfection
When you have a look at the areas, don’t think too much. I find quickly thinking about the area and giving it a value without overthinking works well. As I say, it’s not about having a 10 in each area, but I also don’t worry if I’m absolutely equally happy in two areas if I’ve given them both a 5, for example. This isn’t an exact science, but it does give you some really useful personal information for you to work with.
It’s up to you how you choose to use your numbers on your Balance Wheel to set goals. Here’s a few ideas, which I’ve done in the past.
Write out a goal for each of the 8 areas, some small and some larger
Have a big brain dump session of everything you’d like to change and then choose some of them to turn into a goal. Remember that bigger projects need to be broken down into smaller tasks to ensure they don’t get forgotten or put off
Decide on 1/2 areas to set goals for.
From this example, I decided that I wanted to spend a bit more of my time and energy on Fun & Recreation, Friends & Family and my Relationship. For me, they’ll all so linked together at the moment. I’m consumed by other things and I’d like to spend more time with my friends, family and husband having fun! Not normally something I’d need to set a goal around, but I think it’s natural right now.
Maybe it’s because your number is the lowest on the Balance Wheel, maybe it’s because it’s lower than you’d like even though it’s not a low number per se. It’s up to you, as you know yourself best.
For example, I’m really happy that I feel my career is a 7 right now, but maybe that’d be awful for you and you’d want to spend your time and energy on your career goals in order to boost it.
My current goals are to;
Say “yes” to invitations
Instigate meet ups so that I meet more people locally that will hopefully lead to friendships
Do something new each weekend with my husband and Max, so that we don’t get bored and stuck in a rut.
All easy and simple things to do, but this tired Mum needs the reminder right now!
Now that I have my goals, I’ve displayed them where I see them every day and each week I’m making advanced plans with them in mind. Hopefully by next month (and the next time I do a Balance Wheel), I’ll feel a bit more fulfilled in each of the areas.
How often should I be using the Balance Wheel?
That’s up to you but I personally don’t think it needs to be done very often. If you used it weekly then you might struggle to do it, set goals and then take the action to move things forwards each time. And that’s really what it’s for, not just to look pretty.
I think that it can be a really useful tool
Used for a monthly check in with yourself
Used each season to assess the bigger picture
Done when you’re feeling a bit low or lost, but unsure of why.
As I’ve said, you can draw it out for yourself of use a template, so feel free to print the one I’ve included below and let me know in the comments if you try it for yourself!