Take the Ride of Your Life

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by Diane McMahon

The Wheel of Life is a tool and exercise used by coaches, therapists and retreat leaders the world over to enable individuals to instantly see where there life is at this moment. The purpose is to create a graphic view of the areas that are giving you satisfaction and areas that might need attention. The shape of the new wheel you create can instantly indicate how bumpy or smooth your life feels right now. 

All of us want more balance in our life. Who wouldn’t want their life to run as smoothly as a perfectly symmetrical wheel rolling down a newly paved asphalt road? Balance helps us maintain our equilibrium, so even when we’re feeling pushed and pulled and wobbly, we can keep going. Balance keeps us from putting too much energy, time, thought—whatever valuable resources we have—into one aspect of life, while ignoring others; it helps us maintain a sense of proportion and perspective so things don’t get out of control.   

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, we invite you to get an overview of your own life. Come on, fight that resistance and go find some colored pencils, crayons or pens, a comfortable place to sit, and a few quiet moments to fill in the eight sections of this circle. Then connect the outer edges (see directions and examples) and answer this question: If this were a tire on your car, how bumpy would the ride be? 

As you can see by the examples below, there are as many different shapes as there are people who participate. No one’s wheel will duplicate another one. And your own wheel will change as your life changes. Sometimes, a sector with a low score may mean it is not something you care to attend to right now, or ever. Only you can decide when is the right time for something to be a priority; just make sure the low score doesn’t indicate an area of avoidance or discomfort. 

If there are areas that need improvement take the time to list possible actions that could enhance that area.  Select three specific actions from that list and set a start date beside each one.  Three things make change happen: awareness; attention; and action.  This “Triple-A” is what you need to accompany your life journey. 

A balanced life is a worthy goal, but other things can contribute to a fulfilled and happy life. In an article for Forbes.com, Kristi Hedges lists a set of questions to consider when reviewing your life:

>Do I have energy for things that are important to me?

>What gives me energy and engages me? How often am I doing those things?

>If I could have two extra hours in a day, how would I spend them?

>If I could craft a perfect day, what would those 24 hours look like?

>Do I have mental space to think? How able am I to take a step back periodically and assess what’s working and what’s not?

>What are the three to five things I need in my life to be happy and healthy? (i.e. have dinner with my kids most nights, exercise, sleep eight hours, etc.) and what can I do to ensure these?

There are limitless ways to have a rewarding, fulfilling life. You are the person who must determine what those ways are for you. Plus, the reality is life and circumstances create upheavals that are anything but smooth at times. The point is to be aware of and attentive to the dynamics of your daily life; to check in with your emotional, mental and physical well-being.  Every health and wellness book, guru, blog and article recommends that women need to maintain their support systems and find ways to nurture themselves. This is critical to keep the wheels moving.

The trend among women in the United State is that they are less happy than they were 40 years ago.  Marcus Buckingham, writing for the Huffpost blog, said surveys show a steady decrease in women’s happiness since 1972 and the degree of unhappiness increases as women age. Hopefully, this is not true for you personally. What it suggests is the world and all its demands can be tough to navigate for women.  Let’s all “Come on and take a free ride,” or at least do what we can to make our ride as smooth as possible.   

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Directions: The eight sections in the Wheel of Life represent different aspects of your life. Seeing the center of the wheel as one and the outer edges as ten, rank your level of satisfaction with each life area by drawing a straight or curved line to create a new outer edge. The new perimeter represents the wheel of your life. If this were a real wheel, how bumpy would the ride be?

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