The Wheel of Life may be ‘old hat’ to us coaches, but it’s a powerful visual coaching tool with many uses in the coaching world. In fact it may just be the best and most flexible coaching tool — in any coach’s toolbox.
We forget that The Wheel of Life is still new to most of our clients. And even when they have come across it before it will tell them something new when they use it again, because like most coaching tools it can only catch how someone feels at a moment in time.
So, apart from the common use of the wheel to look at life balance, how else can we use The Wheel of Life to help our clients? Here are 11 new and improved uses for The Wheel of Life:
- Use The Wheel of Life to help your clients set meaningful goals. Areas with low scores are ideal candidates for your clients to set bigger goals around. Tip: This is an especially useful tool for business and career/executive coaches — to edge left-brained clients into ‘softer’ areas that improve their whole lives. Which will, of course, benefit their careers and businesses in the long run.
- Use a wheel to drill down and help your clients understand their lives and issues more deeply. Take one of the segments or categories and ask them to delve deeper by writing out 8 areas that make up that segment for them. Tip: Eg. a ‘Finance’ wheel could include saving for a house or wedding, spending less/budgeting, saving for retirement, paying off credit cards, getting a better paid job etc.
- Help your clients see how far they’ve come. Use The Wheel of Life monthly or quarterly with your clients, as both a check-in to see how they’re doing AND as a way for them to see how they’ve improved and grown. Improved scores demonstrate concrete value from coaching and help clients see their learnings and progression. Tip: It’s a bit like looking back over an old journal and seeing how far you’ve come!
- De-stress your Clients! What about The Wheel of Stress of The Wheel of Frustration? Take the usual ‘life balance’ categories off the wheel and help your client ‘free think’ through their issues. Get them to label the top 8 areas that stress them out or frustrate them most. Ask them to score HOW stressful and frustrating each of their areas is out of 10 — and review the results with them. Tip: Ask, which area stresses them out the most? Are there any surprises? How could they lower their scores?
- Help your clients get excited about life! How about The Wheel of Happiness, Fun or even Excitement? Depending on what your client needs/is looking for, ask your client to come up with 8 areas or things that are fun or make them excited or happy. Label the wheel segments accordingly and ask your client for an action or commitment for each segment. What do they notice? How could they bring more of each segment into their lives? Tip: Help them find multiple wins, ie. areas where one action raises their score across a number of areas?
- For Business Coaches, use the wheel to identify Sales and/or Marketing actions for your clients. Take a blank wheel and add the key areas where your clients need to take action. Ask your clients come up with actions for each to complete in the next month. Tip: For example, a Marketing Wheel might include the following; online social networks, SEO, article marketing, traditional networking, newsletter, trade shows, advertising, seminars.
- Priorities Management. What are your client’s top priorities — this could be at work, home or life in general. Ask your client to label each segment and specifically identify their top 3 priorities. Then get them to score their satisfaction out of 10 for each area. Tip: What do they notice? Do they have their priorities ‘straight’ or do they need to shift their focus? What actions could they take to improve their scores?
- Understanding what’s TRULY important in life. Get your client to list or brainstorm their priorities or goals – asking them to list everything they want to “Be, Do and Have” in life is a great way to do this. Now ask them to take each priority or goal and go around the Wheel of Life ‘balance’ categories and ask, “Will achieving this improve my satisfaction in this area?” and for each area that is improved, that goal gets a point. Then you review which goals get the highest and lowest scores. What do they notice? What have they learned? This helps people to see what will truly make a difference in their lives as opposed to what they think will improve their lives. Tip: Let’s assume your client wants to buy a Ferrari. Will it improve their Finances? No. Will it improve their relationships with family and friends? Probably not. Will it improve their Career? Unlikely. Will it improve their Fun? Yes. And so on until you get a score of perhaps 2 out of a possible 8. Now take being a great Dad. It may not improve your finances or your career (although you never know) but it will help your family relationships, fun, health, personal growth etc so you perhaps get a score of 6 out of 8.
- Identifying skill gaps for promotions/new jobs/careers. Use a blank wheel and get your client (or you can do this beforehand) to label the Top 8 Skills they will need to get the job or promotion they want. Now get them to score, out of 10, where they are at the moment against each of the skills. Finally assign an action against each of the skill areas where they need to boost their skills. Tip: You could even ask them to identify an action for areas where they score highly, “What could they do to truly excel at that skill?”
- Help your clients identify what they are looking for in a relationship. This is called The Relationship Wheel. So, take a blank wheel and ask your client to label the segments with the 8 qualities an ideal partner would have. This MUST be done by the client! And then ask them to give a score as to how IMPORTANT out of 10 each quality is. This will help them identify whether being attractive or romantic is as important as being reliable, having a good sense of humour or a good parent. Tip: You can even use the strategy outlined earlier in number 8 where you take each personal quality they’ve listed, and give it a point for each area on the Wheel of Life that it improves. Which qualities will truly make a difference in their lives?
- General Action Planning. Simply use a blank wheel to help your client come up with actions. Write the goal at the top of the page and then ask them to write out the 8 actions or chunks of work that make up their goal. Tip: Ask them to put a date on each — and they can use the pieces of pie to record % complete for each area until it’s complete!
Of course you’re not limited to 8 segments — it’s just a useful number — and an easy one to divide the wheel into! So, feel free to use fewer segments or split segments to get more.
And whatever we’ve used the wheel for I like to ask this question when complete, “So, if this wheel represented your life/relationship/career/marketing strategy, is it a bumpy ride?”
I hope this has given you some new ideas as to how you can work with and use ‘The Wheel of Life’ in your coaching practice. Give it a try – it’s wheely good!