People often find coaches when they feel stuck.
Odds are they’ve identified a problem in their life and need help finding a solution. This is an excellent first step for them to take, but as you know, the problem the client has identified may not actually be what's holding them back.
Part of your role is encouraging clients to go deeper and look at their whole lives. Gaining fresh perspectives about all the areas of their current situation — not just the one they feel isn’t working — opens clients’ minds to address problems underneath the surface. You never know what you and your client might discover.
So, how can you, as a coach, give some structure to this process of discovery? After all, asking a client to look at the entire scope of their life and consider what they want from it sounds overwhelming. A good place to start is with the Wheel of Life, a tool made for a holistic view of a client’s life.
What is the Wheel of Life?
The Wheel of Life is a life coaching and personal development tool that gives clients a high-level view of their well-being in eight different areas of their life. This quick exercise generates insights that can provoke self-awareness and motivation to change.
It was created by Paul J. Meyer, founder of the Success Motivation Institute, back in the 1960s. Since then, coaches have been using it to help clients find better work-life balance.
The Wheel of Live helps clients assess their satisfaction in the following eight categories:
- Fun and leisure
- Personal growth
As you implement the Wheel of Life in your practice, feel free to change it to better suit your coaching model. Add your own categories to this assessment tool as you learn what questions you want your clients to answer in this process. If you focus on wellness coaching, you might add categories for “Nutrition,” “Physical activity,” and “Rest” to help see where clients rate these areas of their lives.
After using this tool, you should have a better idea of how a client perceives their life and how that differs from where they want to be. You can then tailor a coaching plan to their needs and goals with this data.
How to use the Wheel of Life
The first step to using this balance wheel is to make sure you have a copy of it on hand for your coaching sessions. It’s best to use this early in an engagement to gauge a client’s current perceived well-being. You can have them complete it again after several sessions to evaluate improvement.
The Wheel of Life template should have a series of smaller circles in the center, numbered from 1–10. This lets clients rank each category on a scale of very dissatisfied to fully satisfied.
Here’s how to do the Wheel of Life exercise with your client:
- Review: Consider this step the warm-up. Ask your client to familiarize themselves with the eight categories of life on the wheel before them. Let them know their feedback is welcome. If one of the categories isn’t essential to them, you can remove it or swap it for an area of their life. And if a category doesn’t seem specific enough, ask them how they would modify it. For example, splitting “Relationships” into “Romantic relationships” and “Family” might help them better identify how each area impacts their life.
- Rank: Have your client rank their satisfaction in each category from 1–10. If you’re using the paper version of the tool, ask the client to trace the best circle they can, connecting each number around the wheel.
- Assess: Have the client take a step back from the wheel. Ask them for their first impression of the lines. A client who is equally satisfied with all aspects of their life will have a line that traces a perfect circle across all of the spokes. But clients who are more satisfied with certain parts of their life than others will find that their lines don’t align. In this visual representation, clients can see which aspects of their lives are satisfying and which aren’t — and where their wheel of life isn’t turning properly. Significant discrepancies across the chart make their life look like a “bumpy ride.”
- Identify action items: Now that you know where the problems in your client’s life lie, it’s time to make a plan forward. Explain that the goal of the exercise is to identify areas of improvement. Set goals around these problem areas. Then, break those goals into short- and long-term action items.
Why the Wheel of Life assessment is helpful for coaches
The Wheel of Life is a simple but useful tool that yields comprehensive results and opens a conversation about a client’s needs. Don’t be surprised if your client has an “ah-ha” moment while filling out the chart or grows emotional about their perception. It can feel daunting or relieving (or a combination of both) to find out what’s off-balance in our lives.
You can see the immediate benefit of this exercise for your clients, but what about the benefit for you as a coach? The Wheel of Life is eye-opening for you, too, because you gain a far more precise idea of what seems off in a client’s life than what they can verbalize. This tool can also:
- Help you identify, set, and track goals
- Act as a reference point when you want to demonstrate your clients’ progress
- Help you take stock of different clients’ levels of satisfaction quickly (when working with a group)
- Motivate a client to envision a better life — a vision to help them move towards
- Provide a base for similar exercises that you customize or devise
Have a more powerful session today
If you’ve never used the Wheel of Life before, why not try with a new client today? Or someone at a crossroads in their development? The tool is easy to use and hopefully will open a productive conversation about life satisfaction in your session.
If you use the Wheel of Life with a current client, ask them to rate where they would have been in each category on the chart when they came in. This can help them identify where they’re progressing and where they need to focus their efforts to achieve a more balanced life.
The Wheel of Life is one of many tools you can implement to optimize your coaching business. If you need more resources or support organizing your clients, consider starting with Practice today.