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Last Updated on October 8, 2020

How to Use the Wheel of Life to Live the Life You Want

How to Use the Wheel of Life to Live the Life You Want

There’s always something pulling at our attention: work, kids, social media, aging parents, the list of life categories goes on. In our fast-paced society, it’s easy to lose the balance that we crave. As a result, it’s easy to neglect important areas in our lives that bring us meaning and fulfillment. This is where the Wheel of Life can help us out.

What Is the Wheel of Life?

The truth is that without learning how to mindfully monitor our daily lives, we can end up focusing all our time and energy on a single area and neglecting other important parts.

This is where the Wheel of Life can serve as a highly useful and informative resource. It helps us look at each of these different life categories and identify which areas are doing well and which areas we need to allocate more attention to.

It does this by graphically representing the different life categories as they are now, compared to how we would ideally like them to be. Then, you can identify gaps and where you need to spend your time.

Through understanding this, we can then identify what steps we need to take in order to live a life of happiness and success.

How Does the Wheel of Life Work?

Every “slice” of the Wheel of Life represents one of many life categories. Each of these categories is rated by you on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being poor and 10 being excellent.

Once you’re done rating where you feel each of the different categories are right now, you’ll be left with a diagram with a mosaic-like wheel appearance, something like a spider web. This will allow you to visualize which areas of your life you’re currently lacking in right now.

Here’s an example of the Wheel of Life[1]:

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Wheel Of Life – CodeScale

    Then, you can go around the Wheel of Life again and indicate where you would ideally like each of these categories to be. This visual representation will show you which areas of your life require the most effort and attention at this moment.

    Remember that every aspect of the Wheel of Life has an important role in your life. Your goal should be to answer the questions as honestly as possible. This will provide you with the most accurate representation for your current life.

    The Wheel of Life Categories

    No life is exactly identical to someone else’s. As such, it’s possible that different categories of living will be included in the Wheel of Life for different individuals.

    What’s important is that the categories you choose to include provide an accurate representation of the important areas of your life that will help you achieve overall life balance.

    That being said, there are some common ones:

    Health

    In this category, you aim to rate how physically and mentally healthy you are. You can ask yourself questions like:

    • How do I feel?
    • How regularly do I exercise?
    • What is my diet like?
    • Are there any changes I’d like to make to live a healthier lifestyle?

    Career

    In this Wheel of Life category, you are beginning to think about the job you’re currently working at and rating how satisfied you are with it.

    Are you happy where you are, or would you rather be working a different job, potentially in a different field? Does the career path you’re currently on bring you happiness? Can it support the lifestyle you desire?

    Personal Development

    This category on the Wheel of Life looks at how you are investing in your personal growth. Are you pursuing opportunities that open you up to new experiences? Are you eager to learn new things? What are you doing to evolve and develop into the person you hope to be one day?

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    Finances

    The financial category encourages you to reflect on whether or not your current income supports your basic needs, as well as the lifestyle you are hoping to live

    [2]. Are you going to be happy with the progression of your income over the next 5 years, or are you going to have to make changes?

    No, money is not the only thing that influences our happiness, but it’s certainly one of the key players.

    Life Enjoyment

    Here, think about what kind of activities you engage in to bring yourself life satisfaction and a sense of life enjoyment. Whether that’s sports, reading, writing, or any other hobby doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you are engaging in some things that bring you happiness on a regular basis.

    All work and no play makes for a dull day, and eventually a dull and unsatisfactory life. You can analyze your level of life enjoyment a bit more using this article.

    Societal Contribution

    This Wheel of Life category asks you to reflect on what is it that you are giving back to others. How are you giving back to the people around you or the communities that you are a part of? Do you volunteer?

    Do you help out with local sports or clubs? Are you engaged in political issues to make your community a healthier and safer place for everyone?

    Relationships

    Now you’re going to evaluate your relationships with other people, including family and friends

    . As you do this, ask yourself whether you feel these relationships are built on a good foundation or not? Do you trust the other person in the relationship? Do you each support one another?

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    Can you build on the relationship that is currently established in a positive way? Are these relationships having a positive influence on your daily life?

    Romance

    Now you’re going to ask yourself a few questions about a specific relationship, the one you have with your partner. In the Wheel of Life, this is one of our most important relationships.

    The most important question that you can ask yourself here is if you have a partner who is committed to you and who you can build an amazing relationship with. Are you supporting each other’s growth? Do your values align? Are you able to make each other laugh?

    It’s very rare to find all these things in another person, so if you find someone who checks a lot of these boxes, you’ve probably found a special someone worth keeping around.

    Reflecting on Your Results

    If you feel like you would now go and create your own Wheel of Life that you can use in order to improve your own life, then check out this Wheel of Life assessment tool.

    This is a free version of the wheel that asks you to provide your current and ideal category scores and then creates your Wheel of Life for you. It’s free and only takes a few minutes to complete.

    Once you’ve completed your Wheel of Life and accurately and honestly identified the current and ideal scores for each category, you can move forward with these insights in order to improve your life.

    You might ask yourself questions like:

    • Why do you currently have a low/high score in a given category?
    • Which categories have the largest gaps between their current position and your ideal score?
    • What can you do in order to move the category score from it’s current position to where you would ideally like it to be?
    • Which categories on your Wheel of Life are the most important to you?
    • Which categories are currently having the biggest impact on your life?
    • Are there categories that you would like to dedicate more/less attention to?

    These are all important questions that you can answer to provide yourself with useful information moving forward as you improve your life.

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    By taking a look at your entire life like this, you can also begin making connections between different areas. For example, how is your career impacting your personal development, or how are your relationships impacting your finances and life enjoyment? These are all things that the Wheel of Life allows you to consider and visualize.

    Applying the Wheel of Life to Your Life

    Remember, we are always capable of change and improvement. If you aren’t satisfied with certain categories on your Wheel of Life, or the entire wheel in general, then get motivated to make changes!

    Start to think about what plans, strategies, and steps you can begin taking in order to get where you want to be.

    Something that I know has helped many people is keeping track of their progress. Through these actions, they can begin to understand what works for them and what doesn’t. Then, over time, they can tweak how they are pursuing their goals and increase the frequency of their successes.

    Final Thoughts

    Do your best to think of your life in terms of the big picture so that you can understand how the different aspects of your life influence each other and impact the overall quality of your life. This will help you in finding balance and working on goal setting for success.

    By understanding the big picture, you can then take action towards bringing the life you’ve always wanted into reality!

    More on Living Life to the Fullest

    Featured photo credit: Jean Gerber via unsplash.com

    Reference

    More by this author

    Mark Lynch

    Featured Life-Balance, & Personal Development Author

    5 Reasons to Follow Your Heart to Live the Life You Want 8 Things to Remember When You’re Saying “I Can’t Do It” How to Use the Wheel of Life to Live the Life You Want 9 Ways to Stop Complicating Life and Start Living 8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

    Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

    When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

    Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

    What Makes People Poor Listeners?

    Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

    1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

    Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

    Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

    It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

    2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

    This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

    Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

    3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

    It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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    I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

    If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

    4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

    While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

    To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

    My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

    Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

    Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

    How To Be a Better Listener

    For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

    1. Pay Attention

    A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

    According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

    As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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    I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

    2. Use Positive Body Language

    You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

    A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

    People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

    But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

    According to Alan Gurney,[2]

    “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

    Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

    3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

    I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

    Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

    Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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    Be polite and wait your turn!

    4. Ask Questions

    Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

    5. Just Listen

    This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

    I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

    I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

    6. Remember and Follow Up

    Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

    For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

    According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

    It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

    7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

    If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

    Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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    Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

    Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

    NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

    1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
    2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

    8. Maintain Eye Contact

    When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

    Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

    By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

    Final Thoughts

    Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

    You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

    And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

    More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
    [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
    [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
    [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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