During the summer I reconsidered my digital life and that led to me asking myself if my life is balanced. Am I putting the correct amount of effort and time into the different parts of my life, or are some areas taking over to the detriment of others? I’ve realised it is not possible to do everything I want and by trying I’m creating stress. Does that sound familiar?
My goal is to have my life under control so no area over powers and negatively impacts on the others, with enough resilience that I can deal with moments of temporary higher effort as I’ve built up “credit” in the other areas. It sounds wonderful, but achieving it is not straightforward. The first step is to work out the balance you want because it is not the same as other people, compare this to your current life and then identify steps to take you from one to the other.
Well, I’ve included my attempt below that shows I’d like to make changes in all areas!
What is balance?
The term work life balance is used a lot, but what does it actually mean? I think it is very individual and everyone will have a different view, for example as I work full time my view is likely to differ significantly from a full time mum as we have a different amount of time we can spend at home. But everyone has their own list of what is important to them, and that means everyone can assess whether their life is balanced according to that list, and this is where a wheel of life can help.
Wheel of life
The wheel of life is a visual exercise that highlights the areas that are working and those that aren’t. I’ve written about doing wheel of life before, but briefly you select your areas of importance and give each one a score for how well you’re doing in that area. I’ve struggled with the scoring in the past and my advice is to go with your gut feeling. However, if you find that hard you could consider asking other people to score you, as they may see something that you’ve missed.
Once you’ve drawn your wheel of life, you may see some areas you want to work on straight away. However, it may not be clear because each area may not be of equal importance, so you may want to draw a wheel to show your desired balance and do a comparison to your actual balance.
As you can see in the image above, I didn’t do this in the past. Instead, I compared my current wheel to my previous wheel, which encouraged me to focus on the lowest scoring areas without assessing whether I wanted their scores to be as high as other areas (so I was moving in a direction I didn’t know I wanted to go). It is much more effective to know what you want to achieve so you can take actions to purposefully move in that direction. As you can see from my latest wheel I want to improve all but one area.
Once you ‘ve done the comparison, write down actions you can take for the areas with the biggest difference between the actual and desired score, and then select a couple to work on for the next week. Hopefully on your list you’ll find some actions that will help you increase the score in more than one area and these are great to start with, for example I could join my children on their weekend run to improve both my health and relationships scores. Alternatively, you may want to start with quick actions to get some momentum going before tackling bigger actions, or you may want to do all the actions you’ve thought of for one area before moving to another one.
I don’t think it matters what order you do your actions as longs as you are making deliberate choices to move your actual wheel closer to your desired wheel.
If you want to go deeper with the wheel of life exercise you can
- Ask your family members to do wheels and compare the results, it may highlight areas that are important to your family that you didn’t know about and you may want to change your desired scores
- Do sub wheels for the areas that have the lowest scores to get more specific on where to focus your actions, e.g. I could do a relationship wheel featuring Husband, Children, Family, Friends Colleagues
- Do mini wheels focussed on a specific activity to help you identify action areas, e.g. I’m considering doing one about blogging to help me identify where I should be focussing my attention to help me reach my blogging goals
For me, the two areas with the greatest difference between my actual and desired scores are relationships and self, so here are the actions I’m considering for each:
- contact three people every day
- spend more focused time with my children
- meet up with people in real life more often, outside of work and school run
- try new hairstyles
- get more sleep
- create “me” time to write blog posts
Another action I’ve taken from this exercise is it is time for me to review the areas I’m considering. These are based on goals I set about eight years ago and I’ve changed where I want to focus my attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts, experience and suggestions, please me know in the comments:
- do you feel your life is balanced?
- what are your tips for achieving balance?
- has this inspired you to do a wheel of life, if so what did you learn?