The Wheel of Life is the perfect tool for planning your retirement. Answer the questions, ‘How is my life now?’ and ‘How do I want to be?’ and you are on your way.

The Wheel is a great tool for both evaluating your current level of satisfaction with life and for visioning how you wish your life to be. Perfect when contemplating retirement or re-evaluating it! And of course as we enter the last quarter of the year, it is a great planning tool for next year.

How to use the Wheel of Life

The Wheel is a circle divided into 8 segments, as per the chart below:

Wheel of Life

Each segment represents an area of life, as follows:

Physical

The physical segment refers to your physical health but also to your location and type of home, that is, your physical surroundings.

Financial

Your financial situation and how you manage your finances.

Relationships

Not just intimate and family relationships, but all your relationships including friends and colleagues.

Daily management

Even in retirement a little time management goes a long way, in fact it might be even more important to ensure you feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of each day. Oh, and your daily management list might include making time to finish that fabulous novel!

Work

You may or may not still participate in paid work during retirement but this segment is always valid; for example do you volunteer, do you have investments to manage etc.? You may have a project, some research, perhaps the family tree.

Recreation

This might also be described as play. How do you spend your leisure time, do you have hobbies, creative pursuits, do you allow yourself to just stop, or to be spontaneous?

Spiritual

Your spiritual practice; this may be based on religion, a non-religious spiritual philosophy, meditation. It may be something like music or art that takes you into another space.

Mental

Your mental health, in every sense; do you deliberately engage in activities to keep your brain productively active, do you feel yourself to be in good mental health?

Using the Wheel of Life for planning your retirement

So, what’s this all got to do with planning and enjoying your retirement? You simply can’t get to where you want to be without knowing where you are currently. This is a tool for assessing your current level of satisfaction with life.

This is not a process to be obsessive about, but rather a step towards actually documenting your life map, every so often, when you feel a little reflection may be productive. It is one process to open the way to further thinking, not an end in itself. Could life could be better or are you satisfied with where your life is heading?

How about starting now to assess your current level of satisfaction in life, it’s easy and it won’t take long.

1. Get a piece of paper and draw the wheel of life (it doesn’t have to be perfect, just a circle with 8 roughly equal segments).
2. Label each segment as above.
3. Give yourself a score out of 10 for each segment – closest to the centre being low and the outside being high (remember: these are your personal feelings about life, not your idea of what others think your life should be like). Be honest with yourself, how do you really feel about your financial situation, your relationships. Mark the score within the segment.
4. Join up the dots (see below).
5. Review your wheel, see where there are imbalances and decide what you would like to change.

Wheel of Life sample

So, in my example above, I might be very happy with my scores for Work and for Relationships but not happy with my score for Financial. It might be that I have financial difficulties or just that I know I am not spending enough time looking at or understanding my finances (maybe I don’t know what my financial status really is). Similarly, my Physical sector isn’t looking too flash.

From here I can develop plans to improve one or more of the segments. It might not be the segment with the lowest score; I might decide to focus on the Spiritual segment. Perhaps working there, or on my physical health, will give me more clarity and energy so I can more easily deal with the Financial segment.

A positive change means a re-balancing rather than striving for a perfect 10 in every segment. The key is to take action but not overwhelm yourself with too much to do. Note too, that a positive change does not necessarily mean more effort in every segment. It may be that in the wheel above the emphasis on Work is taking up too much time at the expense of the other segments. Perhaps it is time to take the foot off that particular pedal.

If Financial is a focus for you, you might like to read our post on getting started with Financial Planning.

Have you used a tool like this for evaluation and planning ? Have you found it useful? Do you think there are missing segments? How would you use this tool for planning or fine tuning your retirement?