What is the wheel of life?
Let’s take a look at assessing the wheel of life. This is thinking about the different areas of our lives and thinking about how satisfied we are with each of these areas. It shifts our focus away from work being our sole focus and everything else fitting in around that. We want to make sure that as much as possible we’re satisfied with many different aspects of our lives.
The 8 categories are:
- Family & friends
- Fun & leisure
- Personal growth
If you had to give each area of your life a score out of 10, in terms of how satisfied you are with that area of your life, what would you put in each category? Take a minute to think about that. Thinking about your wheel, what are the areas that you think need the most work? How could rebalancing your time help you do this?
Some of these things may be out of our control, but others maybe because we’re not prioritising these elements of our lives or investing enough time in them. This is an exercise that is worth doing in some depth, to help you see where you may need some work and then think about a plan that will help you do this.
A good first step to assessing how to make these adjustments to the different areas of our life is first thinking about how we define success. In our society, we’re conditioned to believe that success = a big salary, a good title at work and living in a nice area. But only you know what success means to you.
We have to break out of the mould of what society defines as success and create our own version. It’s not that a big salary isn’t something we should strive for, but it’s important to work out what’s important to you first.
For some people, a successful life will be making enough money to live whilst still spending enough quality time with our family. Or being able to dedicate a fair amount of time to a passion project. For others, it will be about creating financial freedom for themselves (although often there is a big sacrifice to be made in doing so, depending on your starting point). This will come down to your values. Don’t let society’s idea of success dictate how you live your life. Our careers are important but there is more to life than climbing up the career ladder. Figure out what’s important to you and plan your life accordingly.
If you’re dissatisfied with certain aspects of your life, you can sit down and make a plan to change that. It’s not always easy and sometimes, of course, external circumstances impact our ability to do this, but we have more control than we think.
So if you rated your health a 4 out of 10, what could you do to improve your satisfaction in that area? Is it a case of factoring daily exercise into your schedule? Or perhaps committing to getting 8 hours of sleep a night? If you scored low on relationships, how can we make sure we’re carving out the time to really invest in the relationships in our lives or create new ones if that’s what we need? Work through each area and try to see if there are some actions you can take in the areas you’re less satisfied with to improve those.
Never being perfect
We also have to accept that our lives aren’t always going to be perfect. You’re probably never going to be a 10 out of 10 in each area of your life and that’s completely natural. Society teaches us that we can have it all, but we can’t. It’s not possible. We probably cannot be the best at what we do professionally and the best parent, the best partner, the best friend to all of our friends and the best performer in our football team. It’s not humanly possible. There is sacrifice required to be the best at anything.
We have a finite amount of time and energy that we can give to things, so we have to figure out our priorities and accept that we cannot excel at everything in our lives. So whilst we should of course strive for excellence in everything we do, we should also learn to make peace with being good enough in many areas, a lot of the time.
We are often too hard on ourselves when we feel we fail because we haven’t lived up to the standard we set ourselves in all the different areas of our lives. We have to remember we are human, with only one pair of hands and there is only so much we can do.
We do need to bear in mind, that if we feel like work is taking over our lives it’s going to be hard to feel a sense of satisfaction in other areas of our lives.
I like this quote by Matthew Kelly, which is taken from his book "Off Balance".
He says ‘It is better to leave a little work undone than to have to fix my marriage. And when I say “better,” I don’t just mean better for me, or for my marriage – but also better for work. Because if my marriage is not in a good place, it is going to drain my energy, distract me from my work and limit my ability to add value to my team, projects and company.’
Generally speaking, you’ll perform better at work if you have a balanced, happy life outside of work. This is why investing in your life outside of work is just as important.
You need to remember you are not your work. Our careers and jobs often form a big part of our identity. It’s how we describe ourselves to other people and it’s often one of the first questions we’re asked when we meet someone new. But we are so much more than just our jobs. Our sense of self needs to be tied to more than one thing. When we tie our self-worth and our identity solely to our jobs and our professional achievements, this can make it hard to switch off from work, leave on time and invest in our lives outside of work. Being a great friend, finding hobbies you enjoy, and keeping yourself in good health are all just as worthy investments in your time. It’s a society that teaches us otherwise, so we have to push back against that notion and create a sense of self that work is only a part of, not the whole.