Coaching tools: Life balance wheel

Life balance wheelWhen having a new client for your coaching sessions you are often presented with a challenge to figure out where to start. Sometimes the client comes and has a very clear idea on what he wants to work on, but sometimes the problem is defined more general. “I just want to feel happy,” or “Something is missing from my life and I’m not really sure what.” When this happens you can use this handy tool called “Life balance wheel” to help you decode the priorities and find out where to start with the coaching sessions.

Why to use it

This tool can be used for various purposes, but the basic one is to identify areas of client’s life where he feels low satisfaction. By using this tool you are trying to establish a balance in client’s life. Of course, the tool itself will not solve all the problems, but it can provide the initial insight into what needs to be done and when used regularly it can measure progress.

Steps to follow

  • Draw a wheel – most often is used a simple pie chart with eight pieces, but you and your client can be more creative and add more sectors as needed.
  • Identify significant areas of client’s life – the most common are:
    • Work – anything related to your work, career, colleagues, boss
    • Development – professional and personal growth
    • Money – your income, but also your expenditures
    • Home – your family, parents, kids, your free time, hobbies
    • Health – your physical and mental condition
    • Friends – your friends, past and present, social life
    • Romance – your love, spouse, matters of heart
    • Life Purpose – your mission in this life
  • Go through individual areas and ask:
    • How satisfied are you with this part of your life?
  • Evaluate individual areas on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 means “Unsatisfied” and 10 means “Completely satisfied”. Keep in mind we don’t talk about how much of that particular activity is in your client’s life, but how satisfied he is with it. So for example, he may have really low income but his satisfaction in “Money” will be high simply because what he is getting is fine for his needs.
  • Connect the dots in the pie chart to show more visually the areas of high and low satisfaction
  • Let client reflect on the picture and ask:
    • What does this mean for you?
  • Pick up an area to focus on by asking:
    • Where do you want to start?
    • What is the most important for you?

It is important to realize and mention to the client that this is a complex system. Change in one area will most likely affect the other areas too. For example, if the client says he has low satisfaction at “Money” so he is going to fully focus on it and will do whatever it takes to get more of them, it may easily happen that the next time you meet he pushes his “Money” satisfaction higher, but his satisfaction with “Work and Home” will go down. So always consider all the aspects and better work on things that have synergetic effect on the others. Ideally, find something that when increased will also increase satisfaction in several other areas.

Where to use it

I described the most common use of the life balance wheel but there are others and it is just on your creativity to decide when it can help. Let me just provide some inspiration:

  • When defining new contract with a client (based on results you decide on priorities)
  • When trying to measure a progress (try to use it the same way as in the initial session every fifth or sixth session to measure how is the satisfaction increasing, it will help to further accelerate the progress)
  • When collecting thoughts about a topic and deciding which one to work on (you may need to ask not about satisfaction but about importance)
  • When deciding between 2 options (drawing a wheel for each option and imagining what the results would be when the option was implemented and then measure satisfaction for each final state)
  • To answer the question: I generally don’t feel happy but I don’t know where to start
  • To identify key aspects of a project and what to focus on (you won’t ask about satisfaction but about complexity or priorities for customers)
  • To facilitate feedback (you may put in different aspects of leadership and ask the team to evaluate each of these aspects; or you can use it to measure alignment of the team by putting in values and asking each team member to rank priorities, then overlay all the feedback and discuss with the team what does it mean for them)

Questions to ask

It is never easy to find the right words so let me give you some thoughts on what questions to ask to make the client think:

  • How satisfied are you with this part of your life?
  • Are the activities you do in this area fulfilling?
  • Think about this part of your life, how much energy are you prepared to put in? (1-10)
  • What could you do to have more satisfaction and fulfillment in this area?
  • What could stop you to make it work? How would you recognize/mitigate that?
  • Who could help you to make it work?
  • Who could remind you, help to keep you on track?

Have you ever used life balance wheel? For what purpose and how did it work? Do you have a tool that can provide similar results?

2 thoughts on “Coaching tools: Life balance wheel

  1. Pingback: Forget About Work-Life Balance, Just Live A Happy Integrated Life | The Geeky Leader

  2. Pingback: Coaching 101: What To Ask? | The Geeky Leader

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