What Does a Worn Tire Have to do With Your Life?

My Wheel on 11/08/11

Often I find myself living in the midst of an unbalanced life. Either I spend all my free time after work doing physical exercise and have no social life, or all my free time on personal development with no time for physical exercise or play or even rest. Successful time management is a theme that continues to rise up like a huge, hairy monster. It seems any amount of energy I put into one area (be it exercise, work, family, or rest) is immediately crushed when I turn my attention to a different area.

Can you relate?

Below is an exercise I encourage you to try. It will help you visualize the areas of your life that may need more attention.

Exercise: Is Your Wheel Balanced?
1). Draw a circle.
2). Divide it into six pieces of pie.
3). Label one piece spirituality, another exercise, another play, and so on with work, friends, and romance/adventure.
4). Place a dot in each slice at the degree to which you are fulfilled in that area (outer rim indicates great; inner circle, not so great).
5). Connect the dots.

This will show you where you are lopsided. You will notice there are areas of your life that feel impoverished and on which you spend little or no time.

If your exercise life is minimal, try going for a brisk 10-minute walk after dinner. If your spiritual life is minimal, listening to five minutes of drum music can put you back in touch with your spiritual core. For others, it may be a trip to a greenhouse. The point is that even the slightest attention to your impoverished areas can nurture them. [1]

Much like tires on a vehicle, it is important to make sure our lives are balanced. If one area becomes too worn from excessive friction (or attention) it begins to cause poor performance and a bumpy ride. This is our warning sign. If we ignore the warning signs and continue to drive forward, eventually the worn areas will become bare and the tire will explode!

What is one weak area you found in your wheel? What can you do today for 10 minutes to replenish this area?

1. The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity [10th Anniversary Edition]. 2002.


13 thoughts on “What Does a Worn Tire Have to do With Your Life?

  1. Alana,

    Great post, as always!

    I think one of the most important keys to experiencing “balance” is to look at life through “1-week” and “1-month” lenses. Otherwise, we’ll go crazing trying to do what is nearly impossible — bring balance to a single day.

    So, for instance, I try to invest well in the 5 major roles I play in life (i.e. personal development, family life, work, community, and steward) over an entire week and month. Therefore, while most of my days are not balanced between these 5 roles…most of my weeks are. Make sense?

    Just some thoughts to chew on. Hope they are helpful.

    Kent Julian

    • Kent, you make an awesome point – to look at life through “1-week” and “1-month” lenses! On our way out the door to work this morning, Josh mentioned that he and I may need to look at our schedules one month at a time in order to maintain a more balanced lifestyle. This post certainly comes out of a place of weakness for me – finding and maintaining balance. I have recognized the magnitude of the issue and I’m actively working toward moving to a place of balance.

      Thank you for providing your thoughts and tips on my posts. Each time I read your words, they either confirm what I am already discovering or challenge me to look at things from a new perspective!

  2. Ah! I have struggled with balance for years! I recognize an area of weakness, give it attention, but it’s to the detriment of another area. Such a challenge! My tendency is probably to overcompensate when I try to make adjustments, so I especially like the encouragement to just give just a little more attention to those weaker areas. Thanks, Alana!

    • Amanda, I have heard if we take baby steps toward a goal rather than trying to drastically change the whole thing that we are more likely to stick with the changes. There is a REALLY good talk on this on TED.com but I can’t find it right now. I will post it here if I come across it again.

      I’m totally with you on overcompensating! 🙂

  3. Skye and I went through a similar process back in January 2011. Prior to going through this process we kept thinking and saying, “If I can just get the right job, everything will be better!” As we went through the process, though, we saw that that virtually every area was near rock bottom. Simply bringing up one area wasn’t going to solve all the things we needed help with. So we got intentional and started investing in all the low areas to try and bring everything up. Nothing is where we want it yet, and we’re 11 months later, but EVERYTHING is better than it was!


    • Ivan, thank you for your thoughts. I too have been guilty of the thought process that if I can change just this “one thing” in my life, everything will be better and I will never be sad, mad or unfulfilled again! ha. If I can just get in better shape and be happy with my image, everything will be better. If somehow I came across $10,000.00, everything would be better. If I… yeah. I’m learning the importance of balance.

  4. As a visual person I really appreciate the wheel image. That is very helpful! It probably won’t surprise you to know that I am extremely lopsided towards the exercise slice! Ha ha. When exercise IS your work it’s hard to separate those two. However, finding time to do my own exercise outside of leading others in a fitness class is challenging. So I suppose my slices should be labeled “work exercise” and “personal exercise” to distinguish… But I have found that creating balance between all areas of my life has been so much easier since quitting my “real” job to pursue teaching fitness classes full-time. Being in control of my schedule and more fully realizing that I am in control of how I spend my time is awesome!

    • Kate you make a good point. These wheel components will be different for each individual. Kent referenced the 5 major roles in his life: personal development, family life, work, community, and steward. I took the exercise directly from the book, but even for myself, I would like to identify the major roles in my life and make a new wheel specific to my own values. I am glad the illustration was helpful!

      I like your idea to separate “work exercise” from “personal exercise.” Another way to look at it could be to keep the “work” and “exercise” separate – and the “work” could represent how fulfilled you feel – as far as making a difference in other peoples’ lives. When I took your classes, my mood and self image were greatly impacted in a positive way!

      I am inspired by how you transitioned from your traditional job to the work you love. You created your business on the side and once your side business surpassed your “job” income, you were able to quit your traditional job! that is so awesome.

  5. Ooh .. this is a great tool and I am definitely going to “draw my wheel” tonight.

    I tend to give it all away … to everyone else .. and then resent it when they come to expect it of me.

    ….wonderful post! Thank you MJ

  6. Hi Alana,

    Ivan is right. We did look at life as if changing one thing would make everything better. We are slowly working on all areas right now and there is improvement. I am going to reevaluate things every 3 months or so. See where I was and compare it to the present, then see what I still need to work on. It’s a great process – eye opening, really.
    For me, fitness was my worst area, so it’s leading the pack in terms of being worked on. Mainly because I’m so tired at the end of the day that I fall asleep around 8 and have no time for anything else. Once I get used to this new routine, though, I’ll have more energy and time for other projects. Yay! Keep up the great posts (and the cute drawings that go with them).

    • Oooh! I like your idea to reevaluate/check in every 3 months – that way you stay connected with the goals you have set.

      Yes. I’m totally lacking on the exercise front right now as well. But like you said, I have found that when I do exercise and eat healthy, I have more energy.

  7. GAR!!!

    Without even drawing my lopsided life I know I’m WAY OUT OF BALANCE.

    The thing is, that is what I talk about ALL THE TIME ON MY SITE.

    Argh..sorry. Land the plane.

    Work takes up way too much time. Romance and adventure and play need more investment. Exercise can always come up, because I do like my couch.

    I want better balance because if I don’t care for myself, nobody will. It is my responsibility. 🙂

    • Oooh… your last sentence is SO good! “I want better balance because if I don’t care for myself, nobody will. It is my responsibility.” It sucks to hear this, because I want to blame others for why my life isn’t balanced, or it’s not where I want it to be, but I know ultimately it is us to me to change it.

      What do you do for work now?

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