Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
This article is part of a series of five articles that walk you through various questioning methods and models typically used for life coaching purposes. However, these questions can also be used for self-coaching purposes to help you gather more insights about your life, problems and circumstances.
Here is a list of all articles included within this series:
- The GROW Model
- The Life Coaching Wheel
- The Life Coaching Funnel
- The Problem Solving Model
- The Decision Making Model
Feeling Lost and Searching for Answers…
To truly succeed as a life coach takes a deep level of understanding. What I mean by this is that you need to understand the client you’re working with at a profoundly deep level. Only in this way will you gather the necessary insights you need to ask the right questions that will help them get the best from themselves in every situation.
A client walks into their first life coaching session somewhat confused, uncertain and potentially out of options. As a life coach it’s your responsibility to help them gain the clarity they need to make optimal decisions moving forward. The decisions they make must help them put into motion a plan of action that will get them the desired results they are after.
The problem is that oftentimes your client might not know exactly what they want. They are confused, dissatisfied and kind of feel stuck and very much unfulfilled. They simply can’t pinpoint why exactly they are feeling this way, and they long for some guidance and direction.
Given all this, how do we reach a juncture where you and your client have the crystal clear clarity needed to help them move forward in an optimal way? This is of course where the Life Coaching Wheel of Life comes into the picture.
The Purpose of the Life Coaching Wheel of Life
The Life Coaching Wheel of Life is typically used during the first or second life coaching session. It’s used with the purpose of ranking a client’s level of satisfaction in various life areas in a visual way. This visual representation helps the life coach get an understanding of where the gap lies between the client’s current reality and desired reality.
The Life Coaching Wheel of Life essentially highlights two key things:
- Your client’s highest life priorities. In other words, what’s most important to them.
- Areas that need more attention in order for your client to reach a deeper level of fulfilment and life satisfaction.
However, the Life Coaching Wheel of Life goes much further than this. It also lays down the groundwork for goal setting as it encourages your client to analyze their current reality while also visualizing their desired reality.
What’s more, the Life Coaching Wheel of Life also provides a visual representation of the balance or imbalance between various life areas. Understanding where these levels are at essentially helps your client to better manage life transitions and changes. The key of course is to restore this balance, and that essentially is up to the life coach to help lay down an optimal path moving forward.
Alternative Uses for the Life Coaching Wheel of Life
Before we jump into the process of how to use the Life Coaching Wheel of Life, it’s important to note that this tool can actually be used in a variety of different ways.
For instance, you can use the Life Coaching Wheel of Life to:
- Prioritize activities or goals.
- Track progress towards a goal.
- Identify gaps in knowledge and skill areas.
- Identify the impact of emotions and stressors.
I’m not going to go into any detail on how to use the Life Coaching Wheel of Life in the above mentioned scenarios. What we are going to do instead is focus on the main way the Life Coaching Wheel of Life is typically used for coaching purposes. Understanding this main approach will help you to get a feel for how the Life Coaching Wheel of Life works. As such, you will then be able to adapt your approach and apply it in the above mentioned scenarios.
Before moving forward with this discussion, I do want to quickly mention a fantastic piece of software that can be used to help you track your client’s progress as they work toward a goal. The software is called Goalscape, and it is designed in the shape of our Life Coaching Wheel of Life. It allows you to add goals and other variables and then track your client’s progress from session to session.
Below you will find a video I created awhile back where I review this software and show you how it can be used for goal setting purposes. After watching the video take Goalscape for a test trial to get a sense of whether or not this is something that might be of value for you personally or in the work you do with your coaching clients.
Taking the Life Coaching Wheel of Life for a Spin
Let’s now spend some time breaking down how to use the Life Coaching Wheel of Life for the purpose of getting some insights and clarity about your client’s current life circumstances.
As you work through the following three steps, it’s helpful to have an actual Life Coaching Wheel of Life on hand. Below I have included a pdf link to a Life Coaching Wheel of Life I use for the Doodle for Self-Development Course, however you will find plenty of downloadable Life Coaching Wheels here.
Now that you have your Life Coaching Wheel of Life on hand, let’s take a look at how to use it.
Step 1: Brainstorm Your Client’s Highest Life Priorities
Your first step is to take out your Life Coaching Wheel of Life and show your client. Explain the purpose behind this wheel and how it will assist with upcoming coaching sessions.
To start off with, begin brainstorming with your client several areas of highest priority. These are areas that are most important for your client in respect to living a balanced and satisfying life. For instance these areas could include career, friendship, family, finances, etc.
In addition to this, ask your client about their life roles and what specific roles are most important for them. For instance being a husband, mother, manager, teacher, sister, brother, etc. An understanding of these roles will help you to gain some insights into the key life priorities and areas of focus that are most important for your client.
If for instance your client mentions that being a loving mother is most important to her, then you immediately know that family is one of the areas you should be focusing on. If on the other hand your client tells you that being a great manager is important, then this will of course translate into career driven values. Given this, “career” would be one of the areas you would list down on their Life Coaching Wheel of Life.
Having discussed your client’s priorities and areas of focus, settle on several key areas that you will now list down on their Life Coaching Wheel of Life.
For the purpose of our discussion, I have selected nine key areas that we will explore further within this article. You don’t necessarily need to list the same areas on your Life Coaching Wheel of Life. It’s actually important that you only list areas that are most important for each client. As such your list may vary from client-to-client. However, the areas listed below are often key areas that are of a high priority for most people. Moreover, a high rank in all these areas helps create an overall sense of balance in a person’s life. Here they are:
List down the areas of most importance to your client, then ask them the following set of questions about each life area:
How balanced do you feel in this area of your life?
On a scale of 0 to 5 (where 0 means you’re not satisfied at all, and 5 means you’re completely satisfied) how satisfied are you with this area of your life?
How did you arrive at that number?
What might be missing in this area of your life?
Are you neglecting anything that might add value to this area of your life?
You can of course use a 0 to 10 scale if you wish, however a 0 to 5 scale typically works well because a client will normally be able to pinpoint exactly what life feels like in each area based on a unique numeral. When working with a scale of 0 to 10 the changes between each ranking number usually aren’t significant enough to pinpoint any real differences in how a client feels.
At this stage, it’s important to keep in mind that each life area listed on the Life Coaching Wheel of Life is part of the whole. What I mean by this is that every area is influenced by every other area. Therefore changes and improvements in one area will normally impact other areas on the Life Coaching Wheel of Life.
The end objective is of course to help your client find balance across every life area. However, balance is maybe not the right word we’re looking for to describe the end goal. What you’re trying to find here is a state of equilibrium, where things don’t necessarily need to be equally balanced for this equilibrium to exist.
What I mean by all this is that a person shouldn’t be giving equal attention to each life area. Some areas will require more focused attention than others. Moreover, some areas will need more focused attention at certain times than at other times. And all this of course comes down to prioritization and figuring out how to reach a state of equilibrium by focusing on the right areas for an optimal length of time.
Given all this, you are therefore very much playing the part of a director here. Through the use of effective questioning techniques you can help lead your client to find that equilibrium for themselves. It is up to you to give them this direction. Once you get the ball rolling your client will often put all the pieces together all by themselves.
Step 2: Explore Each Life Area Using These Questions
Now that you have a relatively good understanding of what you’re client’s life looks like from a bird’s eye point of view, it’s now time to ask some deeper and more probing questions to get a clearer picture of the factors influencing each life area.
The questions you ask here are designed to encourage your client to begin thinking about various aspects of their life in more helpful and solution-oriented ways. In other words, it’s about helping your client figure out how to improve the ranking score they originally assigned to each life area.
Let’s now spend some time breaking down each area by asking the following set of questions:
How are you growing as a person?
What one new skill would make a difference?
Where are you motivated to improve yourself?
How would you go about making these improvements?
Health and Wellbeing Questions
How is your health?
What are you tolerating at the moment?
Are you getting enough rest and recreation?
Where do you need to take better care of yourself?
How will you go about taking better care of yourself?
How do you feel about the health of your relationship?
How do you feel about yourself within that relationship?
Where would you like to improve your relationship?
How could you go about making these improvements?
What’s your social life like?
What would you like to change or improve?
What do you want most in a friend?
Where are these people in your life?
What’s best about your family life?
What would you like to change or improve?
What are you most committed to doing?
Work and Career
What’s most satisfying about the work you do?
What specific things are you less than satisfied with?
What expectations do you have about the work you do?
What’s most important for you when doing a job?
How well does your current job supply that?
What needs to change in this area of your life?
Money and Finances
What led you to rank money on this level?
How would you like for things to change?
How do the things you own enhance your life?
How do the things you own detract from your life?
What is your environment like at home and at work?
What changes would make the most difference?
What do you aspire-to in this area of your life?
What might be missing in this area of your life?
Keep in mind that there is a limited amount of time within a life coaching session. Given this, you possibly might not realistically be able to get through all these questions. As such, choose to focus more attention on areas that your client wants to work through. Of course though, give some attention to other areas as well. After all, every area is interconnected in someway, and therefore helping your client improve a certain aspect of their life can very often positively influence other seemingly unrelated aspects. It is of course your job to figure this out. 🙂
Another option is to set your client homework to work through these questions in their own time. They can then potentially email you their answers for further discussion within your next life coaching session.
It’s also important to note that these questions only serve to get you started. There are plenty more questions you could potentially ask your client about each area of their life. Typically these questions will evolve as you work through each area. Therefore please don’t limit yourself to just these questions. Choose instead to adapt your questions to each individual client and to the answer they give you.
Finally, remember that your main purpose here is to figure out how you can potentially lead your client to a state of equilibrium where they experience a high level of satisfaction and fulfilment in the areas that are most important to them. As such, be sure to ask your questions with a purpose in mind. Every question you ask must build on the previous question to help you get to the heart of what needs to happen to help your client move forward in an optimal way.
Step 3: Pave the Way Forward
The final step of this process involves paving the way forward for future coaching sessions.
Working through the Life Coaching Wheel of Life has no doubt provided both you and your client with some interesting insights into their life, feelings and circumstances. It’s now time to lay down an action plan to help your client optimize each area in the best possible way. And of course to do this you will need to set some clear goals. Ask your client:
What stands out for you when viewing these rankings on the Wheel of Life?
What would a 4 out of 5 look like in that area of your life?
What area are you most motivated to work on?
What specific goals could you set in that specific area of your life?
What additional changes could potentially be made here?
What goals do you have in other areas of your life?
What specific changes do you want to make in these areas?
Which of the goals you have listed do you feel is most worthwhile pursuing first?
It’s important to ensure that the goal your client chooses to pursue first will have the greatest positive impact on all other aspects of their life. In other words, you are aiming at getting a goal off the ground that will make the biggest difference across the board with possibly the least amount of effort. And of course starting small, but at the same time thinking big is the way to go. 🙂
Keep in mind that your client might need to make some sacrifices and compromises. Focusing on this one goal, might potentially affect other areas of their life in a less than optimal way, however for the short-term these are sacrifices that effectively need to be made. Be sure to coach your client through this process and help them to minimize any negative impact a pursuit of one goal may have on other aspects of their life.
Once you have this goal in place, it’s important to help your client begin building a plan of action for accomplishing that goal. Potentially they may need to eliminate or delegate certain obligations or responsibilities. Potentially they may also need to re-prioritize their values and thusly begin making a different set of choices that will lead to a more optimal way of life.
In the end it all comes down to making positive changes. And this is of course where a great many life coaching challenges begin. As a human species we simply don’t like change. We like the idea of change, but very few of us WILLINGLY ever make significant and drastic changes to our lives. Limiting beliefs and unhelpful thinking styles limit our ability to make these changes.
With this in mind, it’s helpful to get a sense of how willing and open to change your client is at this stage along their journey. Once you know this, you can then adapt your approach accordingly.
Everyone is of course capable of change, all they need is the right kind of inspiration, the right amount of time, and an optimal path to follow. And as a life coach it’s up to you to help lay down that path for them, moving forward. 🙂
Time to Assimilate these Concepts
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Gain More Knowledge…
Here are some additional links and resources that will help you learn more about this topic:
- Free Wheel of Life Template with Instructions @ The Coaching Tools Company
- How Are You Faring in Your Life? — The Wheel of Life @ Personal Excellence
- The Interactive Wheel of Life @ Pure Coaching
- The Wheel of Balance @ Asteron Life
- The Wheel of Life (pdf) @ The Coaches
- The Wheel of Life: Finding Balance in Your Life @ Mind Tools
- The Wheel of Life Process: Be Your Own Life or Business Coach @ LinkedIn
- Ways to Use the Wheel of Life in Your Coaching Practice @ Roojoom
- Wheel of Life Self-Assessment Tool @ The Start of Happiness
- Why I Never Use “Life Balance Wheel” Tool in My Coaching Practice @ LinkedIn