Work/Life balance. It’s seems like the holy grail of modern life. How can we ration our time and energy to both succeed in our professional work and nurture our personal lives? We’re certain that there must be a precise formula out there that will enable us to find that absolutely perfect balance, like a quarter standing up on edge.
The truth, of course, is that we’ll never be in a state of perfect balance, at least not for more than a moment or two. Life isn’t about stasis, it’s about change. Like the ocean tides, life has an ebb and a flow. There will be times when we channel most of our energy into one particular area of our life. And that’s okay. We don’t need to keep ourselves in a perpetual state of balance. Rather we can allow the pendulum of life to swing and do our best to return to a balanced state as often as we can, without punishing ourselves when things become unbalanced again.
This is where a tool like the Life Balance Wheel comes in handy. This wheel is a visual tool to help you measure which areas of your life are bringing you the most or least satisfaction.
Each wedge of the wheel represents a different area of your life. This one from Apartment Therapy includes: wellness, style, relationships, homekeeping, career, money, me time, and outlook. There are a variety of versions of this tool available online with different labels for each section, so take the time to find or create a wheel that reflects what matters to you. You may want to devote one section to “community” to assess your relationship with friends, family, and the wider community, while reserving a separate section for “romance” to examine where you are in your love life. Parents may choose to include a section for the kids to help remind them to nurture themselves as much as they do their children. Devoting a section to your physical health and wellness is always a good idea. You might also choose to include sections for spiritual development, physical environment, or creative expression depending on your needs and lifestyle.
Once you’ve chosen a version of the wheel that resonates with you, give yourself a score of 1 to 10, with 10 representing the greatest satisfaction, in each area. These scores then allow you to visually compare the different areas of your life. If the sections are all relatively even and the wheel looks like it would turn pretty smoothly, then you’re likely in a fairly balanced state. In which case, take a moment to breathe and appreciate it! Is there a big gap in the wheel, or large difference between sections that would make for a bumpy ride? If so, maybe those lower-satisfaction sections of your life need some more time and attention.
The most important thing to remember about the Life Balance Wheel is that it’s a tool you can use again and again. Whenever life starts to feel overwhelming or out of control, you can come back to the wheel to re-examine things. It may allow you to see where you can make adjustments in order to bring things into a more balanced state, or simply provide you with some reassuring perspective.