Wheel of Life: How to Set Meaningful Goals

If you’re naturally an achiever, it’s not hard to hit goals. That’s what made you so successful. But what about after work? Are you still struggling to lose weight? Not spending enough time with your kids? Can’t remember the last time you had a date night? These are all signs you’re not living a balanced life. And when you’re not balanced, you risk your health, happiness and well-being. So how do you ensure you’re at your best in every area that matters? Start with the wheel of life.

What Is the Wheel of Life?

So what the heck are we talking about? First, a little history: The idea of the wheel of life is thousands of years old. It’s used in Buddhist teachings and represents areas of the universe. In the 1960s, Paul J. Meyer, founder of Success Motivation Institute, created a tool using the idea of the wheel. It’s a visual representation of all the areas of your life where you need to set goals, laid out in spokes of a wheel. But the wheel really came into prominence when motivational speaker Zig Ziglar adopted it and chose seven areas of focus. His categories have become the gold standard, which many people and businesses—including our company—still use today.

What Are the Wheel of Life Categories?

  1. Career: Advancing your career or business objectives
  1. Financial: Taking control of or improving your finances
  1. Spiritual: Growing your spirituality
  1. Physical: Improving your health and well-being
  1. Intellectual: Developing your mind
  1. Family: Strengthening your family
  1. Social: Nurturing personal and professional relationships

Why Is the Wheel of Life Important?

The idea behind the wheel of life is that every part of you is important. To be successful as a whole, you have to set goals carefully and intentionally in every area of your life—not just work.

Why do you need goals? Goals force practical steps into your life to make your dreams come true. You’re laying out exactly what you want to do in detail.

If you don’t set goals in every spoke of the wheel, you’ll become unbalanced. And when we say unbalanced, we’re not talking Breaking Bad Walter White levels of crazy. We just mean that you need to spend time and focus on each area on the wheel or you’ll begin to tilt.

Our CEO, Dave Ramsey, compares being unbalanced on the wheel of life to having a flat tire. “What I’ve learned is that I have to be intentional and put forth effort in every area,” he says. “If you leave one side of the wheel flat, you have a flat tire. A flat tire will take more effort to roll your life forward. And just like a car with a flat tire, your life will have a lot more noise and unwanted heat.”

Fair warning, though: What we have found about the wheel of life is that it’s super easy in theory. But each of us has areas where we shine, so it’s easy to ignore the other spokes. If you’re a workaholic, it’s simple to set career goals and hit them every time. But spending time with your family? Maybe not so much. On the other hand, if you’re naturally a people person, attending social events is a breeze. But maybe you’re lacking on the financial spoke. So now that you know what it is, let’s get started.

How Do You Use the Wheel of Life to Set Goals?

Your first step is to start thinking of goals you want to accomplish in each wheel of life category. Keep in mind that in order for goals to work, no matter what spoke of the wheel you’re on, they must be:

  • In Writing

Did you know that people who regularly write down their goals earn nine times as much during their lifetimes as people who don’t? 1 So, get them down on paper or key them in on your computer—whatever you need to do.

  • Specific and Measurable

For goals to work, you need to zero in on exactly what you want to accomplish. For example, saying that you want to lose weight won’t cut it. Instead, say, “I would like to drop 20 pounds.” It’s specific and includes an exact (measurable) amount.

  • On a Time Limit

Once you set your goal, you need a deadline. It’s the best way to avoid procrastination. And then, break that goal all the way down to daily activities. For example, if you would like to lose 20 pounds by December 1, how many times do you need to work out each week? What will be your calorie intake each day? While preparing your strategy, it will soon become clear whether your goals are obtainable.

  • Your Own

Nothing makes you fail a goal faster than having it be someone else’s. If you want to lose 20 pounds, that’s amazing! But if someone else is pushing you to do it, you’re just one step away from hitting up the all-you-can-eat buffet.

Examples of Goals for Each Wheel of Life Spoke

Now that you know how to set goals that work, we’ll share some examples for each area, plus some questions to ask yourself. Our examples are for business owners or leaders, but the wheel of life and goal-setting work for any profession and any stage of life.

  1. Career

If you’re a business owner, you may want to ask, How much do I want to grow my company? How do I increase employee engagement? Once you answer those questions, it’s time to set goals to get there. Here are some examples of goals:

    • Create a customer loyalty program by Nov. 1.
    • Partner with two industry influencers by Aug. 1.
    • Start a monthly free lunch for all employees by Oct. 15.
  1. Financial

Possible questions to ask: How comfortable am I with my amount of retained earnings? What percentage of my profits could I pay toward reducing debt? Example goals:

    • Decrease expenses by 2% by Dec. 31.
    • Save three to six months of retained earnings by Dec. 31.
    • Pay myself a living wage by Aug. 1.
  1. Spiritual

Possible questions to ask: Where do I want to be spiritually in six months? How can I get closer to God? Example goals:

    • Pray three times a day starting Sept. 1.
    • Read a chapter of the Bible once a week for three months.
    • Join a small group at my church by Aug. 15.
  1. Physical

Possible questions to ask: Are there any changes I would like to make in my diet? How satisfied am I with my overall health? How often would I like to exercise? Example goals:

    • Lose 20 pounds by Oct. 25.
    • Walk 30 minutes a day for the next month.
    • Make an appointment for a regular checkup by the end of the week.
  1. Intellectual

Possible questions to ask: What would I like to learn? What one daily habit can I start to improve myself intellectually? Example goals:

    • Stay offline one day per week.
    • Read 30 pages of a nonfiction book every day.
    • Visit two places I’ve never been before by Oct. 1.
  1. Family

Possible questions to ask: What do we want to achieve as a family? What do I need to do to be a better parent? How can I improve my relationship with my spouse? Example goals:

    • Schedule a date night every other week starting this week.
    • Plan and book a family vacation by May 1.
    • Schedule a family meal once a week beginning next week.
  1. Social

Possible questions to ask: What can I do to connect with others? What can I do for my community? How do I build better relationships with my friends? Example goals:

    • Schedule a volunteer day once a month beginning on Feb. 1.
    • Schedule a monthly night out with friends by the end of the week.
    • Host three dinner parties by the end of the year.

The wheel of life tool may not be flashy, new or even digital. But it’s an incredibly important tool that still works today. Take time to use it. And we promise you’ll see a difference and an improvement in every area of your life.

Want to hit your goals and create unstoppable momentum? Download EntreLeadership’s free Goal Tracker.

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