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Keep It Fresh

Are You Stuck?

I and other lifestyle coaches sometimes talk about stages of change. Although these stages are not carved in stone, there are generally five stages that you can find yourself in:

1. Not ready for change.
2. Thinking about change.
3. Preparing for action.
4. Taking action.
5. Maintaining a good thing.

Sometimes I meet people who say they are not happy with the way they look or feel, yet they are not able to make the changes they need to improve things. Or, they have begun to make changes but they keep “falling off the wagon” or have made some changes but are “stuck” in a particular stage, or "relapse to an earlier stage, and their desired goal remains tantalizingly out of reach. This can be frustrating for them and me alike!

Sound familiar?

Fortunately, there is a marvelous tool you can use to help break up this kind of log jam and get things moving. It’s called a “balance wheel” or “life wheel.” I learned about this tool from Kim Richardson, the certified professional coach who taught me many coaching techniques. In the the right-hand column you'll see an image of the wheel Kim developed. It's a great guide to use when designing a wheel customized to my client's unique situation.

To make your own wheel, draw a circle on a piece of printer paper and within that draw four concentric circles. Then divide it into 8-12 sections like a pie--whatever you feel describes your whole life. Examples are:

• Health
• Money
• Friends and family
• Children
• Significant other/romance
• Personal growth
• Fun and recreation
• Physical environment
• Career/job
• Money
• Creative/arts

Then, one by one, rank your level of satisfaction in each section, from 1 to 5—with 5 being totally happy and fulfilled and 1 being terrible. Draw a line at the appropriate score. Then, go through each section and write down why you rated them the way you did. Describe what is happening in your life now—not in the past, but at this very moment. For example:

• Money—do you feel secure? How in control of your finances are you? Are worried about being in debt?

• Health—do you feel healthy and energetic? Are you fit? Do you eat well? Do sleep well? Are you happy with the way you look?

And so on. This is not a “report card” on how well you are doing in each area—it is a snapshot of your level of satisfaction in each area. For example, you may not have any children, but rate family a “5” because you are just fine with that. On the other hand, you might have tons of money but feel you can never have enough and therefore give “money” a “1” or less.

Once you have drawn your lines, take a look at the shape of the outer edge of your wheel… would it give you a smooth or bumpy ride? Where there are dips are the areas in which you want to improve your satisfaction. Although you might want to lose weight, you will have a difficult time of it if there are other, more pressing areas that are either sabotaging you or competing for your energy and attention.

Working with a coach can help you better identify and prioritize the areas you want to work on, and think about what steps you might take to work on them. I once had a client who wasn’t able to follow her weight loss program. It turned out that she was sleeping only 4 hours a night. Once we identified that and discovered ways to help her de-stress and give herself more sleep, she felt stronger and more energized and was better able to tackle her eating habits.

So, if you haven’t been able to progress beyond a certain point, don’t beat yourself up—you might be barking up the wrong tree for now. Try the balance wheel to sniff out what’s getting you stuck and to get you moving again.
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