What is the wheel of life?

The idea behind the wheel of life is credited to self-improvement pioneer Paul Meyer who founded the Success Motivation Institute in 1960. Despite numerous interpretations of the wheel of life in more recent years, each version shares the common purpose of personal transformation.

Understanding the wheel of life

The wheel of life is a personal development tool that enables individuals to visualize and balance various aspects of their life.

The wheel of life is a simple, practical, and flexible framework that enables individuals to assess their needs, define objectives in relation to core values, and ultimately, enjoy more fulfilling lives.

Most wheels have between 8 and 10 segments which represent categories essential to a healthy, balanced existence.

To determine areas of their life they excel in and those that have perhaps been neglected, the individual can complete a questionnaire to assess their satisfaction in each category.

Some interpretations simply require that each category be rated on a scale of 1 to 10.

Wheel of life categories

Some of the categories that may be present on the wheel of life (and some helpful questions for each) include:

  1. Business, career, and studies – is your career headed in the right direction? Are you satisfied with your progression thus far?
  2. Finance and wealth – does your income satisfy your current needs? Can you earn more to satisfy future needs?
  3. Health and fitness – how healthy are you in a physical sense? What would your doctor say about your diet?
  4. Social and friends – does your current level of social interaction meet your needs? Are your friends supportive?
  5. Family – is your family supportive of your needs? Similarly, do you show the same support to your family?
  6. Love – how often do you express love to others? Are you satisfied with your romantic life?
  7. Personal growthdo you seek out new experiences regularly? Do you employ a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?
  8. Recreation – do you enjoy life and have fun? Do you make time for recreation?
  9. Contribution – how would others rate your contribution to their lives? Are you willing to lend a hand when needed? Are you charitable?
  10. Spiritual – are you connected to something bigger than yourself? Can you see beyond your day-to-day existence?

Business applications of the wheel of life

The wheel of life can also be used in specific business situations. Two of these are mentioned briefly below.

Decision making 

The wheel of life can be used when an employee faces a decision with several options. This may include a promotion, a new career, or a job within the same industry.

To assess the validity of each option and gauge its impact, the individual scores the decision against each of the standard wheel of life segments.

The individual then considers how they feel about each decision based on its impact score. In other words, does the score align with their intuition or gut feeling? If not, why not?

Based on these insights, the individual can choose a course of action or undertake more research to make a more informed decision.

Performance appraisal

When an employee has received a substandard performance appraisal or has been overlooked for a business opportunity, the wheel of life can clarify new ways forward.

This is particularly useful for those who are uninspired or unmotivated and need a fresh perspective.

Each segment in this wheel denotes one of the employee’s key strengths which should encompass both their personal and professional lives.

Once at least eight strengths have been identified, the individual scores them out of 10 based on how well they believe that particular quality is being demonstrated. 

From these scores, the individual clarifies which strengths are being utilized well and which are not. For those underutilized strengths, they must brainstorm at least five actions that will boost their score and lead to a more positive, fulfilled life.

Key takeaways:

  • The wheel of life is a personal development tool that enables individuals to visualize and balance various aspects of their life.
  • Some of the categories that may be present on the wheel of life include love, social and friends, health and fitness, recreation, contribution, and spirituality.
  • The wheel of life can be adapted for specific business contexts. For example, an individual may use the wheel to assess decisions with myriad options such as a new career move or promotion.

Connected Wheel-Based Business Frameworks

Margerison-McCann Team Management Wheel

The Margerison-McCann team management wheel was developed by Dr. Charles Margerison and Dr. Dick McCann. Margerison – an author and psychologist – partnered with scientist and organizational behaviorist McCann to determine why some teams were effective while others with a similar skillset were not.

Business Model Wheel

A business model wheel provides a structured approach to defining a business model. Each model wheel is broken down into three core components: offering, monetization and sustainability. Each component in turn contributes to a total of eight areas that make up an ideal business model.

Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions

Plutchik’s wheel of emotions is a framework illustrating the various relationships between human emotions. Plutchik’s wheel of emotions was developed by American psychologist Robert Plutchik in 1980 to help people make sense of their sometimes mysterious or overwhelming feelings.

Brand Essence Wheel

The brand essence wheel is a templated approach businesses can use to better understand their brand. The brand essence wheel has obvious implications for external brand strategy. However, it is equally important in simplifying brand strategy for employees without a strong marketing background. Although many variations of the brand essence wheel exist, a comprehensive wheel incorporates information from five categories: attributes, benefits, values, personality, brand essence.

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