“My whole life has fallen apart!”
If you spend any time at all working with or raising teens, you are familiar with variations of those moments when the rails come off and the young person before you adamantly believes all is lost and/or has fallen apart. In all honesty, there are seasons of life even as an adult when it can seem like challenges are multiplying and relief isn’t in sight. Gaining perspective of what is and isn’t true in these situations can bring a much needed stress release that will set you or the students in your life up to re-engage with confidence in areas that are proving to be challenging.
One of my favorite “perspective tools” in moments or seasons like this is the Wheel of Life. Very often when taking a student through the exercise, we discover there are only one or two main areas that are proving to be difficult, while most categories of life are going fairly well. When a student has opportunity to gain this visual realization, they can begin to relax into the newfound truth that all of life hasn’t fallen apart. Once a student begins to settle in, a great window of opportunity opens up for them to begin thinking about how to take a step forward in areas of life where they are experiencing low levels of satisfaction and high levels of stress.
The Wheel of Life is a visual representation of what is going well and of what areas of life need attention.
Step one: Rank your current level of satisfaction in each wedge category on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being completely satisfied.
Step two: Draw your new perimeter (see example).
Step three: Consider what you just learned about yourself and your life. What jumps out at you? Is there a particular wedge that caught you by surprise? What about it was surprising?
Step 4: Acknowledge something you are proud of in your life that you weren’t thinking about or hadn’t noticed until now. (It’s immensely helpful if students can pick out a positive before they begin work on something that is stressful and feels negative.)
Step 5: Choose one wedge and create an action that will move a 6 to a 7 or a 7 to an 8 etc. When designing your action, remember to be specific, state it in the positive, make it measurable, and choose something you can accomplish in the next week or so.
Small wins build positive self-esteem and momentum,
reduce stress, and create motivation for future actions. Actions can be as simple as committing to do homework (before electronics) for two hours a night each night for the next week, or choosing to go to bed by a certain time each night for the next week. It’s key in coaching to help students stack up these small wins, so they have a solid foundation to move onto greater wins. When you or the students in your life follow through on actions, don’t forget to celebrate. You just built a structure for yourself and accomplished what you set out to do. Way to go! 🙂
Thanks for checking out my blog! The Wheel of Life is an Academic Life Coaching concept. I am an ICF certified Academic Life Coach and train youth advocates in the Academic Life Coaching 1.0 coach training program. I’m also an adoptive mom, youth advocate and a licensed therapeutic foster parent. For more information about this program for the student in your life or on how to train as a coach, please contact me here.
Hi there Brenda
That was a very good post. When I first glanced over it – it looked like it would be complex with the wheel, but well explained. This year my family and I started a “Good News Jar” and already it’s given us a whole new perspective on what we have going on in our lives. This is a very good measuring tool. I will look at tonight. Thanks!
Thanks, Melanie! I love your “Good News Jar” idea too. There are many ways to gain and keep perspective. Some of the best and most creative are things you design as a family.
I like the idea of compartmentalizing different parts of life, it helps keep the perspective as a part versus whole. I have a teen daughter and will keep this in mind when I am talking with her about her stresses. Thank you.
Your welcome, Krista. Breaking things down and getting to the heart of the matter is so beneficial to keep hold of what is really going on in a situation. Good luck with your daughter!
I remember a famous transformational coach saying when you feel like ‘everything’ is falling apart, stop, look and take note where you are not applying your toolbox. Works every time. So many techniques have been designed to help us move forward.
Absolutely! I’m glad to hear you have some tools that work for you, Roslyn. 🙂
I did the Wheel of Life exercise at a business women’s convention last year. It was quite the graphic representation of where I needed to find more balance in my life. Thanks for reminding me! And I love your step-by-step process on how to make changes. Good stuff.
Thanks, Jackie. I do wheels fairly regularly myself. Even though I feel like I’m pretty on top of what is going on in the different categories of my life, there are often a few surprises. I love getting that visual overview!
It is truly amazing at how helpful that LIFE CIRCLE is! I had it introduced to me a while back = but I was already pretty much aware. I introduced it to others as a part of my ICF training too, and it was very insightful to my clients! I believe your work with students is very powerful and using this is just one of many tools you have up your sleeve! Great article!
Thank you Cheryl, I appreciate the kind words and it’s very fun to connect here with another ICF trained coach! The wheel is a great tool – glad you think so too.
I totally forgot about that.. I learned that in a class I took a few years back.. pretty insightful.. helps to remind US, even, that we don’t need to focus on the negative.
Thanks, Kristen. I know I need the reminder at times! 🙂
Very simple, very effective. This is good advice for adults, as well. Thanks.
It is good for all age groups. I love sharing simple tools anyone can use!
Great tool that’s simple but very powerful. Thank you for sharing.
You are welcome, Vicky!
Seems like a great tool to teach how you step by step can move forward and reach your goals.:-)
Exactly! Thanks for taking time to read my post. 🙂
I think the wheel is a great resource and you explained it really well. I love the idea of small wins. Small wins make such a difference.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Stacey. Small wins build that momentum we need to keep going!