3 Easy Ways to Use the Wheel of Life to Evaluate Relationships

Happy Relationships for How to Use the Wheel of Life

The "Wheel of Life" may be 'old hat' to many of us, but it's endlessly flexible. Did you know that the categories we use on the Life Balance Wheel can be used to help make decisions on everything from life partners to new careers? And that a Blank Wheel can be used to help evaluate decisions?

IMPORTANT: These exercises are intended to be used with individual clients to help them understand themselves and their relationships. These suggestions are NOT intended for use with couples—unless you are a marriage counsellor or have training in this area! Are you trained to deal with the challenges and potential damage to your clients' relationship if they see they have been negatively scored by their partner? Are you trained to deal with the issues that might result? If not, then please only use these ideas with individuals for their own insight and learning.

For even more ideas for The Wheel of Life read: The Complete Guide to the Wheel of Life!

Here are 3 Ways to Use The Wheel of Life in Evaluating Relationships

1) Identify the most positive qualities to focus on in a potential life partner

Which qualities, that we wish for in a potential life partner, would have the most positive impact on us?

Who for: This is a great exercise for clients who get carried away looking for the "perfect" or "perfect looking" partner. Help them focus instead on more meaningful personal qualities.

Often we look for qualities in a life partner that—when it comes down to it—don't add that benefit to our lives. For example: How much does a person's hair colour or height truly matter for our happiness?

In this exercise a client learns which qualities in a life-partner could MOST improve their life overall—and which are perhaps more superficial.

  • Start by asking your client to list 10 qualities they want their ideal life partner to have. These can be anything at all—and the more honest the client is, the better this exercise works.
    • Tip: Ask them to write down whatever pops into their mind, however silly, unlikely, boring etc.
  • Next your client will score each of these qualities using the Wheel of Life Categories.
  • Working with ONE of their ideal partner's personal qualities at a time, ask your client to give each 'ideal partner quality' a score of 1 for each category on the Wheel of Life that would be improved by having a partner with that quality.
  • Then total up the scores and discuss!
Example: Imagine a client has "Tall" or "Curvy" on their ideal life partner quality list. Using each of the wheel categories, ask your client, Would a tall or curvy life partner enhance that area of your life? Would it enhance their "Finances", "Career", "Personal Growth"? After asking this question for all 8 categories on the wheel, "Tall" or "Curvy" might get a score of 1 for "Significant Other".

Next, imagine, your client has listed the quality of "A good sense of humour". Using each of the wheel categories, ask your client, Would having a partner with a good sense of humour enhance that area of your life? Now after comparing to the 8 wheel categories, a "good sense of humour" might score 5, improving fun, friends and family, your home environment, your health and maybe even your career if you have a lot of social events to go to!

What do you think the quality of "a good listener" might score? I think you see where this exercise is going!

Tip: You can make this exercise more interesting by giving ½ point for a slight or possibly improvement, 1 for improvement and 2 for a big improvement.

Follow-on Questions:

  • After this exercise is complete, ask
  • What do they notice as they look at their scores?
  • What surprised them, if anything?
  • As they look at the list of qualities they chose, what is missing from their list?
  • What did they learn from doing this exercise?
  • How might they change the way they evaluate people they meet in future?

In Summary: This is a potentially deep exercise, and helps a client prioritise the qualities they look for—or value—in a life partner.

2) Evaluating Current Relationships

Who for: Whilst decisions of the heart shouldn't be made solely with the 'head' or analytical left-brain, sometimes a little left-brained analysis can help us see what we're missing—whether it's that someone deserves a second chance, or that we need to move on...

  • Using a Blank Coaching Wheel (free), ask your client to label the page their Relationship Wheel, and then label the wheel segments with the 8-10 most important qualities they think a life-partner, friend or lover should have.
  • Life Wheel Exercise Scoring ExampleNext ask your client to consider their current relationship partner or friend. While thinking about this person, ask them to score out of 10 how they think that person rates against each of the qualities listed.
  • Finally, ask your client to draw a line representing the scores on the wheel.

Follow-on Questions:

  • What do they notice?
  • Are the scores higher or lower than expected
  • What surprised are there?
  • If their HEAD was to make a decision about their relationship with this person, what would they do next?
  • What about if their HEART was to make a decision?
  • What qualities and factors are missing from their Relationship Wheel categories?
  • What did they learn from doing this exercise? What action steps might they take next?

Optional Step

Are your client's scores low? Another step is to ask your client to imagine someone who just met your partner: How would that person score their partner? Or ask them to score their partner according to how they felt when they first met their partner.

Now ask them to re-score their partner in each segment from THIS perspective.

Tip: Use a different colour pen for the second scoring on the same blank wheel.

Follow-on Questions:

  • How are the scores different?
  • Why do they think that is?
  • What has changed? What has not changed?
  • How have they changed as a person?
  • What would they most like to be different?
  • What action steps could they take?

3) How Energising or Draining are the Top 8 People In Your Life?

Who for: This exercise is an interesting exercise for anyone. However, particularly for people who complain about others in their life or who are stuck and could do with a fresh look at the people in their life.

NOTE: You'll need 2 different colour pens for this exercise!

  • Ask your client to label a Blank Coaching Wheel with the 8 people they spend most of their time with.
  • Using the first pen colour, ask them to score everyone on their wheel for "How energising is this person out of 10?" (where 0 is not at all energising and 10 is highly energising).
  • Then, using a different colour pen, ask your client to score everyone on their wheel for "How draining is this person out of 10?" (where 0 is not at all draining and 10 is highly draining).

Tip: The thing to focus on here is, how energised or drained your client feels after spending time with each person.

Follow-on Questions:

  • What do they notice?
  • What surprises are there?
  • Is anyone both a drainer and an energiser? What does that feel like for them?
  • What did they learn from doing this exercise?
  • What action steps might they take next?
Further exploration:

You could also look at what % of their time your client currently spends with each person, and write that somewhere in each segment.

  • Then for the energising people you could ask: How could you spend MORE time with them?
  • And for the 'drainers' you could ask: How could you spend less time—or change the way you spend time—with them?


I hope you liked these 3 different ways to use the Wheel of Life Template to evaluate our relationships.

And remember that these exercises can be used with our romantic relationships, friends, family and co-workers to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of these people on our lives.

If you liked this article about the Wheel of Life and Relationships, you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

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  1. Rebecca

    Thanks so much Emma-Louise. You inspired me to use it differently with one of my clients and we created a new wheel called "significant other". I then asked my client to label the new wheel with 8 of the most important things that she needs/wants from a significant other (she doesn't have one right now). This new way of looking at it shifted her thinking completely!!!

    Thank you so much.


    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Rebecca, I am SO glad you found that helpful! The Wheel is such a fabulous and flexible tool. And it takes good questioning and coaching to make it work! Great job! Warmly, Emma-Louise

    • Ragesh

      Rebecca your comment was helpful in motivating me to do the same. Thanks to you and Emma.


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