How to Use The Wheel of Life in Your Coaching Practice: A Complete Guide

The Wheel of Life Exercise Guide for Coaches with Coach and Client having Coaching Session with Life Wheel

Introduction to the Wheel of Life Exercise

The Wheel of Life Template is one of the most versatile coaching tools in your toolbox. Because once you go beyond the traditional Wheel of Life Exercise, a Blank Coaching Wheel can be adapted to help your clients in almost any coaching situation.

In fact we think the wheel of life assessment is the ultimate coaching tool; simple and easy to use—and endlessly flexible.

So if you're ready to learn new ways to use this powerful and fun tool, read on! You'll find lots of tips, ideas and even a helpful tools clinic video with many new ideas for using The Wheel of Life Exercise in your coaching practice!

What is the Wheel of Life and What does it do?

A Quick Wheel of Life Definition: The Wheel of Life is a visual tool or exercise used in coaching to help clients quickly understand how balanced or fulfilled their life is in this moment.

The wheel is usually made up of 8 categories or areas that are important for a whole or balanced life. Clients rate their level of satisfaction with each area, then map this onto an image of a wheel. This gives people an immediate overview of their current "life balance".

Wikipedia describes the Wheel of Life as a coaching tool used in life and management coaching to assess coaching priorities.

But the wheel of life assessment is so much more than this!

The life wheel technique gives clients a helicopter view of how satisfied they are with their life in key predefined categories such as health, finances and relationships.

Wheel of Life Exercise Page 1

Click to see the Wheel of Life Exercise

It's a powerful tool because it allows clients to see right away which areas of their life might need improvement, providing an instant overview for both coach and client.

So, for many coaches including myself, the wheel of life assessment is a key tool in their coaching practice.

In summary, the Life Wheel helps clients become more self-aware and more motivated to make changes and create a fulfilling life. Through self-knowledge, it empowers and gives our clients focus and direction.

Life Coach with Client in Background

Some Personal Thoughts on the Wheel of Life Exercise

I absolutely love the Wheel of Life—and believe it's essential to every coach's practice. That's why we made our Wheel of Life Template free.

And even the regular Life Wheel we're all used to seeing with life balance categories can be used for more than just life balance including:

  • Clarifying priorities for goal-setting
  • Reviewing and assessing progress with clients (eg. as a regular quarterly coaching check-in)
  • Your own personal life balance check-ins....

So don't just use the Life Balance Wheel with your clients! I recommend you use it for you too—because it's important we walk our talk. I often use the wheel to check in on how I'm doing, and where I could make some adjustments to my own life balance!

Get your Free Wheel of Life here:

What are the Key Categories on the Wheel of Life?

The wheel of life assessment usually has 8 categories for life balance, although sometimes it has as many as 10. These categories can be changed and the wording customized for each client as needed. And sometimes categories are split into two for more granular scoring.

Here is a list of categories and their common alternatives:

  1. Family and Friends: I usually split "Family and Friends" into "Family" and "Friends". I do this for myself, and also offer it as an option to my clients.
  2. Significant Other: Other category name ideas include "Dating" or "Life Partner".
  3. Career: "Motherhood", "Work" or "Volunteering" are alternative labels you could use.
  4. Finances: Other label name ideas include "Money" or "Financial Security".
  5. Health: The category name could be split into "Emotional" and "Physical".
  6. Home Environment: This category can change to "Work Environment" for career or business clients.
  7. Fun & Leisure: The category name could change to "Recreation".
  8. Personal Growth: The category name could be "Learning" or "Self-Development".

Click to get more ideas for Wheel of Life Categories here.

History of the Wheel of Life Coaching Tool

Who Invented The Wheel of Life?

Early Wheel of Life Assessment by Paul J Meyer

Paul J. Meyer's Original Wheel of Life

The original concept of The Wheel of Life is attributed to the late Paul J. Meyer who founded the Success Motivation® Institute in 1960. Paul J. Meyer was a thought leader and coaching industry pioneer. He built many programs to help people achieve their goals, manage time and be a better leader. Over time Meyer's programs have travelled far and wide and have been translated into well over 20 languages.

Also an entrepreneur, Meyer began and acquired over 40 other companies in a wide range of areas. These include motor racing, commercial and residential real estate, finance, printing and equipment leasing - and many more. Over half of these businesses failed, but he loved a challenge and believed, "Attitude is everything!"

Today, the Coaching Wheel takes on many different visual forms and can be completed on paper as well as online, and on mobile phone apps.

When was the Wheel of Life invented?

It isn't known exactly when the wheel of life assessment was invented, but it's likely it was in the 1960s, shortly after Meyer created the Success Motivation® Institute.

Meyer's original Life Wheel concept continues to be used at Leadership Management International (another of his businesses) as part of the Total Person® Program. This focuses on goal-setting and creating action plans with the 6 categories of Family and Home, Financial and Career, Mental and Education, Physical and Health, Social and Cultural, Spiritual and Ethical.

Different STYLES of the Life Balance Wheel

While there are many design variations, there seem to be only two key styles for the Life Balance Wheel. All the coaching wheels I have seen are plotted out in one of these two ways:

  1. The "Pie" Style: The 'original' style of the coaching wheel looks like slices of a pie or pizza—and the client draws a line across each segment to rate each area.
  2. The "Spider Web" Style: The other key style—more often seen with online versions because it's easier for computers to draw—is what I call the "spider web" style. Here the scores are noted on the spokes for each category, rather than across the segment. And this creates a spider web effect.

The instructions in this article refer to the original "Pie" style of the wheel of life assessment. I prefer this style as I think the results are clearer, and it's easier to read for both coach and client.

Life Balance Wheel Styles - Pie and Web

Client at desk completing a Wheel of Life Exercise

How to Fill Out The Life Balance Wheel

At The Coaching Tools Company we like to get clients away from devices and distractions. We want to help clients slow down so they can connect more deeply with themselves and what truly matters. There are too many distractions and associations when we're on a device that take us away from calm and focus!

Coaching Tip: have your client print out the wheel of life assessment and fill it in with a pen, rather than complete an online version. Just being away from a screen will help clients have a better result.

OverviewExample of How to Score the Life Balance Wheel

When we score our satisfaction levels against each of the wheel categories, this gives us a great snapshot of what is—and isn't—working for us in life.

Simply ask the client to rate their satisfaction with each category on the wheel by drawing a line across each segment, according to how satisfied they are in each life area. By doing this your client will clearly see which areas of their life need attention.

Once completed the wheel will likely look 'bumpy'. The client may then choose to set goals or create an action plan around the areas of life where their satisfaction is low.

You can also use this tool regularly with the same client to check in. Doing this will help you both see how your client's life balance progresses during the coaching relationship.

How to Use The Wheel of Life (Instructions)

  1. Ask your client to review the 8 categories on their Life Balance Wheel.
    • If necessary they can split or rename category segments to add in something that is missing, or make it more meaningful for them.
    • See this Wheel of Life Categories article for ideas and examples.
  2. Ask clients to rank their level of satisfaction with each area of their life by drawing a curved line across each segment (see image for example). Scoring is between 1 (very dissatisfied) and 10 (fully satisfied).
    • TIP: It can be helpful to demonstrate how to draw the line and add each score to their wheel.
  3. The new perimeter of the circle represents their "Wheel of Life". Ask your client to look at their completed wheel and ask, "If this was your Wheel of Life, would it be a bumpy ride?"
  4. Coach your client around the learnings from their Coaching Wheel scores.
  5. Finally, identify at least one action for your client to work on to improve their scores on the wheel—and improve their life balance.

NOTE: These steps are based on the detailed instructions found on page 2 of our Free Wheel of Life Template.

Get your Free Wheel of Life here:

So, how does the Wheel of Life Exercise Work?Image of 2 Page Paper-based Life Wheel

The Wheel of Life Exercise works because it gives an instant helicopter overview of how a client feels about their life. The scores in each area are a "gut" feel—what their instincts tell them—and not the "should" answer our clients usually give.

We're all so busy these days, it's often hard to know how we really feel. We can look at our lives and say, "Oh yes, I'm happy". But are we really? Because when we get into the detail of our lives and really see what's there, there are always dis-satisfactions and areas that can be improved. Sometimes these are small, and sometimes they're larger issues we're so used to that we've stopped noticing them.

It's the visual scoring on the life wheel that enables both client and coach to see which life areas the client feels good about—and which may need some work. And this feels authentic, empowering and good! Because from here we can work with our clients to make changes—and improve their quality of life.

For the most powerful results, the coach will then dig deeper into the client's answers using coaching questions to discover what specifically is getting in the way of a client's ease and happiness. Then the final step is to use the life wheel to brainstorm ideas and come up with an action plan.

TIP: When action planning, prioritise the areas of life that have the lowest scores, identifying actions to raise those satisfaction levels.

Ideas for Using The Wheel of Life [VIDEO]

Watch this fun tools clinic video with lots of new and inspiring ideas for using the Wheel of Life—whatever your niche!

How to use The Wheel of Life in Coaching (with 11 examples)

Below are several ideas to get you inspired to use The Wheel of Life Exercise in your coaching practice. Learn about different situations and new ways to use the life wheel with your clients. Enjoy!

Coach with Client using wheel of life assessment

Here are 11 Ways to Use the Wheel of Life Exercise in your Coaching Practice

  1. In a sample session with a prospective client. Often potential clients are unclear on exactly what they want a coach to help them with. Sometimes prospective clients are shy to share personal issues with someone they've only just met. The life balance wheel is a great tool to build trust in the coaching process. It gives an overview of how satisfied the client is with their life, and also demonstrates the power of coaching and self-inquiry.
  2. To set and prioritise goals. Sometimes a client wants life coaching, but doesn't know where to start! A completed Life Wheel can help clients choose areas to set goals around. These are usually, but not always, the segments with lower satisfaction scores. The relative satisfaction scores can also be used to prioritise which goals to work on first. For more on goal-setting you may also like this SMART Goals Special Report .PDF
  3. Demonstrate progress and the power of coaching. I do a wheel of life assessment with all new clients. Then I score the wheel again after about 3 months. The client's life satisfaction scores have almost always increased—sometimes dramatically. This makes the Life Wheel a great way to demonstrate progress in a coaching relationship! For more on this try this simple 3 Step Process to Measure Coaching Progress.
  4. As a Life Check-in. The Life Balance Wheel makes a great 'any time' tool to do a quick "check-in" with our clients. This can be how they're feeling about their life today, this week or month. And once the client knows how to complete the wheel of life assessment, empower your clients to use it themselves and see what areas of their life might need a tweak!
  5. As a diagnostic tool to look for sources of stress or dissatisfaction. When a client feels unhappy, frustrated or down, the life wheel scores makes a great start point for discovering what might be bothering them. Where do they have low scores? What might be underneath that? Which segment is most impacting their stress?

Hand Holding Metal Cogs Against Blue Sky

  1. In a coaching program. Any time you start a coaching program with a client—whether it's group or individual coaching—the Wheel of Life is a great way to "take stock" of a participant's current life situation. For example, we use a version of the life balance wheel called "Brighten Up Your Life" at the beginning of our Renew You, Love Your Life Coaching Program.
    Brighten Up Your Life Coaching Program Wheel Exercise Page 1

    Brighten Up Your Life: Customised Life Wheel for the Renew You Coaching Program!

  2. In Workshops. The Life Balance Wheel makes an excellent introduction to any life coaching workshop. It's also a great tool to help clients understand where their stress is coming from in a stress management workshop. You may like this article that helps coaches run a short workshop using the Wheel of Life.
  3. Use the Wheel of Life Assessment to help a client envision how they would like their life to be. Using the 8 Wheel of Life categories, ask your client to write in each wheel segment what they would like their life to look like. They could also draw or cut out and paste pictures into each life wheel segment. See more life visioning exercise ideas here.
  4. Include a Life Wheel In your new client's welcome packet! The Life Balance Wheel makes a great tangible coaching tool for clients to complete before they start their coaching sessions with you. Then review the life wheel results and coach clients deeply in the very first session! That's why we include the Wheel of Life Exercise (with instructions) in our top-selling Life Coaching Welcome Packet!
  5. Coaching Wheels can be a way to "test" which goals are most meaningful for a client. Ask the client to score each of their goals according to whether it improves their satisfaction in each of the 8 life wheel categories. Learn more about how to use the Wheel to Create More Meaningful Goals here.
  6. Customise the Wheel and adapt it to whatever thorny problem your client is having! Simply grab a blank coaching wheel and ask them to add the 8 biggest things stressing them out right now. Then score out of 10 how stressful each thing is. Or try asking your client to label the segments with 8 key things that make them a good mom/dad/leader/friend. Then they score themselves according to how well they think they are doing in each area, and wrap-up by creating an action plan to move forwards. For more ideas, find 12 New Ways to Use The Wheel of Life Exercise here.

People in Circle around question mark for Coaching Questions

Coaching Questions for The Wheel of Life

There are endless directions you can follow when you explore the Wheel of Life Exercise results with your client. So use your coaching skills and intuition to decide what to coach your client more deeply around.

TIP: It can be helpful to use the GROW model when exploring your client's completed wheel. Ask your client for a G—Goal for the wheel segment/area or aspect of their life they want to improve. Then explore the R—Reality of that situation. Next brainstorm some O—Options and finally agree what the client W—Will Do. You may also like our Complete Guide to the GROW Model for Coaches (with PDF).

Here are 12 Wheel of Life Coaching Questions to Help:

  1. How do you feel about your life as you look at your Wheel?
  2. Are there any surprises for you?
  3. How do you currently spend time in these areas?
  4. How would you like to spend time in these areas?
  5. What would make that a score of 10?
  6. Describe to me what a score of 10 would look like in that area?
  7. Which of these categories would you most like to improve?
  8. How could you make space for these changes in your life?
  9. What help and support might you need from others to make changes—and be more satisfied with your life?
  10. What change do you want to make first?
  11. So, what is the smallest step you could take to get started?
  12. If there was one key action that would begin to bring everything into balance, what would it be?

Colourful Ferris Wheel against Blue Sky

How and why to customize the Life Wheel?

Often what holds our clients back is a lack of conscious awareness about a situation. This might be how they feel or how they're getting in their own way. So, while the Wheel of Life Exercise is usually used for life balance; a blank wheel can be used to understand almost any situation more deeply. And once your client is more aware of how they feel—and the factors at play in their current situation—you can coach them and identify actions or goals to improve it.

How to Customise the Life Balance Wheel for any situation:

  1. First get yourself a brandable, free version of the customisable Blank Coaching Wheel.
  2. Next, firm up the topic you'd like to explore with your client.
  3. Then, using a blank coaching wheel, ask your client to add a title to the top of the page eg. My Stress Wheel, Leadership Wheel, (Find a) Relationship Wheel etc.
  4. Then ask your client to label the 8 blank wheel segments according to their topic. Some ideas include:
    • The 8 most important things to remember in this situation.
    • The Top 8 contributing factors to the situation.
    • 8 outcomes they are hoping for.
    • The 8 areas they need to—or would like to work on.
  5. Then ask your client to rate each segment. What they rate will depend on the topic—some ideas include the level of importance, satisfaction/dissatisfaction, comfort, progress etc. with each of the 8 areas.
  6. Then choose an area to explore more deeply, or brainstorm actions with them to move forwards with.

For specific ideas and situations to customise the Wheel of Life see our extremely popular article: 12 Awesome New Ways to Use The Wheel of Life Exercise in your coaching practice.

Get your Free Blank Wheel of Life here:

Coach and Client with image of the Wheel of Life Exercise

Why Clients love the Wheel of Life Exercise!

I haven't met a client yet who didn't love the wheel of life assessment.

I think it's popular because it gives people an instant helicopter view of their life. This knowledge allows people to see for themselves which areas of their life feel good—and which need working on. And this is empowering! It allows our clients to make different choices as to where they focus their time and energy for a more satisfying life.

But consider that the wheel is also a powerful and ancient symbol—deeply embedded in the human psyche. It implies movement, the cycle of life, change, the opportunity to steer our life, balance, sustenance and more. And this symbolism runs deep in our consciousness.

Key Considerations for using the Life Wheel

We know that life balance is personal and unique to each individual: what is satisfying or balanced for some may be stressful or boring for others. And at the core of the Wheel of Life Exercise we're raising our client's awareness. And it's this awareness that allows the client to plan a more satisfying life that's closer to their own unique definition of balance.

Remember that life balance is not a one-time thing

So it's helpful to assess balance with our clients—over time. A regular check-in (with the Wheel of Life Exercise) can highlight useful patterns and help your clients learn even more about themselves. You can do this with them, or give it to them as homework to do themselves.

And remember that balance is rarely achieved for long—our lives shift and change often. So it's helpful to remind clients that the goal is not to "achieve" life balance. Instead, the idea is to ensure they are moving "towards" rather than away from it.

Balance and self-care are under-rated practices in our society

I find it strange that balance and self-care (that makes us feel good and perform better) is so dismissed and ignored.

And as coaches we are perfectly positioned to help clients take better care of themselves. But be prepared to meet resistance and discomfort as we go against societal norms, and encourage our clients to rest, have more fun in life—and follow their heart.

For more on this, you may like Balance & Self-Care: Are We Doing Enough For Our Clients?

Business Man in Grey Suit Runs on Hamster Wheel

What if the Client has done the Life Wheel before?

I'm often asked this by coaches (probably because I'm so enthusiastic about this tool!).

But just because it's such a familiar tool to us, we forget that most people have probably never even seen the wheel of life assessment! And if our client or workshop participant has seen the wheel before—that's great! It means they already know how to complete it, and you can spend more time delving into issues and brainstorming actions!

Another important thing to remember is: even when clients have done the Life Wheel before, their answers will likely be different today than when they last completed. Because remember, the Life Balance Wheel provides a snapshot of people's life satisfaction. And this changes over time—sometimes from one week to the next!

So your client has seen the Life Balance Wheel before? Great! Just make sure you're clear why you're using it with them now—and share that with them.

How can I use the Wheel of Life Exercise with Online or Phone-Based Clients?

At The Coaching Tools Company we want to get people off devices and using pen and paper. So although we've considered creating an online version of the wheel—we don't want to! People already spend so much time on laptops/tablets and phones. An online version would keep people connected online when we want them connected to themselves!

So, what's the easiest way to work with paper-based tools if you're working with clients over the phone?

  1. Email the Life Balance Wheel to your client. They can either print it out, or copy out the circle on a piece of paper.
  2. Once they've completed the Life Wheel (whether during the session or as homework), ask your clients to take a picture with their smartphone.
  3. Lastly, they can message, text or email the picture of their completed form back to you. Simple!

This is an easy solution because people are now used to using their phones for everything. This has worked like a charm for me, and gives the best of both worlds!

One final wheely good idea!

Lastly, why not send your clients the Wheel of Life Exercise via (snail) mail in your Welcome Packet. This is what I did when starting out with my new clients—see 7 Suggestions For a Client Enrollment Process that Rocks for more ideas.

In a world flooded with coaches, sending a physical package in the mail is a lovely way to stand out. Give your client a tangible wheel of life assessment and make them feel great about investing in coaching with you!


The Wheel of Life Assessment is an extremely powerful tool, giving your clients precious insight into themselves. And this understanding gives people the clarity—and motivation—to make changes and improve their lives.

The Life Wheel makes a great in-session coaching tool to understand a client's life situation and brainstorm ideas. It makes excellent homework. And it also makes a great webinar/workshop exercise or take-home handout.

And of course, a blank wheel can be adapted (through labelling the wheel segments differently, or simply asking coaching questions to delve deeper) to pretty much any coaching situation.

And remember that what turns the Wheel of Life Exercise into a power tool is when you coach your client and explore their results more deeply.

Using a Life Wheel helps you create a long and meaningful relationship between coach and client. And it's a great tool to kick-off the relationship as you mean to continue—powerfully!

Image of Free Wheel of Life Exercise held by hands with Button on swirly background

PS. Did you know we also have the Wheel of Life Exercise available FREE in Spanish? No hay necesidad de reinventar la rueda - get *La Rueda de la Vida* Con Instrucciones

Did we miss something? Is there a question you'd like answered about the wheel of life assessment? Comment below!

If you liked this article all about the Life Wheel, you may also like:

For a comprehensive overview of coaching tools you may also like our Complete Guide to Life Coaching Tools & Exercises

For other Wheel of Life uses, see the Buddhist Wheel of life (disambiguation)

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 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 >>

Image of Coach and Client doing Wheel of Life together by Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock

Image of Smiling coach with clipboard and client in background on computer by michaeljung

Image of Pie Style Wheel by magic pictures

Image of Web Style Wheel by Angie Ramos

Image of Client Completing Assessment at Desk by WAYHOME studio

Image of Coach and Client working together - for 11 Ways to use Wheel by Iakov Filimonov

Image of Hand holding cogs against blue sky by geralt

Image of Colourful people in circle around question mark by qimono

Image of Colourful Ferris Wheel against blue sky by imnoom

Image of 3 Coaches Holding Clipboards with Coaching Assessments by pixelheadphoto digitalskillet

Image of Client and Coach in atrium working together by Monkey Business Images

Image of Person in grey business suit running in hamster wheel by Elnur


  1. Ellen Kocher

    I really liked this thorough and pragmatic article, thank you. I am such a believer in the "Wheels" approach, that I recently published a blog with the National Wellness Institute using the "Wheels" even further. It has been used to adapt the Health Coaching Master's Curriculum at Maryland University of Integrative Health and I will be presenting the concept elaborated in an ICF Coaches Workshop in October. I would love your thoughts and if you are interested in adapting it as a follow-up to your piece, just let me know! Thanks for your always great content.
    Warm regards, Ellen

    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Ellen, I'm so glad you liked this article! We love the life wheel technique - so powerful and flexible! Thank-you for your suggestion. Warmly, Emma-Louise

  2. Tale

    Thank you for this resource. It was a good refresher for what I learned in coaching Academy.

    • Michela Phillips

      We're happy to hear you're enjoying our content, Matthew!
      - Kindly, Michela

  3. Emmet

    Hi Emma- Louise,
    Thank you for a really helpful and inspiring article on coaching clients with the Wheel of life tool. I have recently purchased the Welcome Pack and some other resources from the Coaching Tools company, which I find very helpful resources.

    I want to ask you if I have permission to post the Coaching Tools Company Wheel of Life picture and how to use instructions on my Facebook/Instagram pages and perhaps a pop up link on my website? All sources will be as per The Coaching Tools Company Template and Source referenced of course.

    I ask this, as it may encourage and stimulate prospective clients to engage in a coaching programme with me ?
    I look forward to your reply.
    Warm wishes

    • Michela Phillips

      Hello Emmet, we're so glad you like the tool! If what you're saying is that you'd like to use the Wheel of Life Coaching Tool image and link to the blog post, that is definitely okay! Thank you for asking!
      - Kindly, Michela

      • Emmet

        Hello Michela,
        I am grateful for your reply about my request to use the Wheel of Life Coaching Tool and link to your Coachingtools blog post.
        Thank you kindly,

  4. Amit Kumar

    I am a coach with my niche 'Work-Life Balance'. I am fascinated with the 'Wheel of Life' tool / exercise as it aptly points oot the attributes needing attention. I have found this tool very effective. The article is a comprehensive one - just like a tool. I loved going through it.

  5. James Smith

    For life coaches, this article is very informative to help them excel in their careers. Glad that I found this article and enjoyed reading it. Keep writing these informative articles.

    • Michela Phillips

      So glad you enjoyed the article, James 🙂 There will be more to come!
      - Kindly, Michela

  6. Anonymous

    This is a great Wheel of Life guide for coaches! I'm looking forward to using the tools in it.


    I found this post to be incredibly helpful in understanding the Wheel of Life and how it can be applied in my own life. I appreciate the clear explanations and practical examples. I'm looking forward to using this tool to gain a better perspective on my priorities and goals. Thank you for sharing!


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