Today you will learn how to use the Wheel of Midlife – a simple method to help you gain clarity and direction on where to start your midlife makeover. The Wheel of Midlife is the same tool I personally used to go from a midlife crisis to a midlife awakening. You will learn the journey of how I got from point A of Angst to point B of Bliss.
Whether you are experiencing a full-blown midlife crisis, or you simply need to make a few changes in your midlife, the Wheel of Midlife is an excellent way to get your wheels off the runway.
No matter who you are out there, I’m guessing you have a desire to change your life. I mean, you didn’t just stumble upon this podcast by accident. A thought or feeling must have bubbled up within your psyche motivating you to hunt for a podcast about how to get through the muck of midlife. Whether it’s the shows about divorce, empty nest, health, weight loss, positive mindset, or travel, your soul is searching for some answers. Or maybe you just like the sound of my voice!
But seriously, the fact that you are listening means you are investing in yourself. It means you are dedicating your time and energy towards creating a new you and a new life.
First, I applaud you for answering the call from your soul yearning for a more fulfilling journey in life. Bravo! You are clearly saying YES to a new you. Second, congrats for having the wisdom that transformation needs to take place. The lightbulb must have gone off in your head signaling that your life needs to change.
Awareness is only the beginning though, and just like good ol’ G.I. Joe said, “Knowing is half the battle.” You might know you need to change, but awareness only takes you so far. Transformation takes place when you take a step forward. Not just any step though –– a step that will lead you in the right direction towards a new life –– a life of joy, harmony, a ton of fun, and whatever the heck you want.
Taking that first step can be challenging, because even if you’re fired up, overflowing with courage, and ready to conquer your life, you may not know which step to take first. This in itself can be overwhelming, and where most people wave the white flag before they even step onto the battlefield.
I can completely relate to that feeling of overwhelm and the paralysis of change, because when I hit my mid-forties, I was introduced to a mound of debt, unemployment, divorce papers, a dried-up bank account, an eerily empty nest, chronic illness, depression, anxiety, the death of my brother, and a lost soul drowning in a puddle of tears on the bathroom floor. I wanted to wave the white flag, but I was too tired and exhausted to even hold up the flag.
I knew my life needed to change. I knew that Wendy needed to change. I knew I had to get off the bathroom floor, wash the black mascara smudges off my cheeks, and get my shit together. I was tired of being in this awful place in my life and I knew that something had to give. And it did.
That something was given to me in a vision –– a crazy, out of the blue vision of me driving an RV across the country. That’s right. Lil’ me in a big RV! What a wild epiphany! I’m all about receiving signs from the universe, but this sign seemed a bit cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Either way, I was intrigued. It was the first thought in a long time that brought me excitement, so I thought I would try this vision on for size.
As I sat there on the bathroom floor with my back leaned up against the shower door, I began to dream of this new life. I envisioned myself driving a cool, sleek motorhome into the hot, desert sun while I loudly sang along to Life is a Highway by Rascal Flats. I also imagined a new and improved Wendy behind that wheel with a fulfilling career, financial freedom, a healthy body, a peaceful mind, and a happy life.
Not only could I see myself smiling, but I could feel it. I wanted more of that feeling. I so desperately just wanted to feel good again. To feel alive. To feel like myself.
This incredible insight brought so many wonderful feelings of hope and inspiration, and yet it also brought many scary feelings of doubts and desperation. Unfortunately, my RV dream was quickly interrupted with a blast of questions.
How do I start a new career at the age of 45?
How do I get rid of all this debt?
How will I be healthy enough to make it happen?
What makes you think you can achieve such a grand dream anyway?
Look at you. You’re a mess.
Considering my hopeless and dismal state at the time, this new vision seemed completely out of reach. I wanted to just collapse back onto the cold, tile floor and call it quits.
But then another thought occurred to me –– a quote actually. A quote that never meant much to me until that moment. The famous quote from Robert Frost: Two roads diverged in a wood and I –– I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
That was it. I was at a crossroads in my life. I could stay on the road of misery that I traveled most of my life or I could choose to take the road of freedom and create my future dream life. The choice was mine.
Driving an RV across the country seemed really crazy but staying on the bathroom floor seemed even crazier. I realized that either road took a ton of effort, so I might as well use my efforts towards a better life for myself.
I pulled up my bootstraps, wiped away my tears, and made the choice to take the road less traveled. The road that would lead me to being untethered, extraordinary, and my true authentic self.
This was the aha moment that shifted my entire life, and the road that made all the difference. This insight started a domino effect of chain reactions that took me from broke, miserable, and crying on the bathroom floor to debt-free, happy, and laughing in my brand-new motorhome. It’s how I went from an exhausting past to an exhilarating present.
As I mentioned previously, you can’t just take any step forward. You need to take a step that will lead you in the right direction towards your new life. If you’re confused as to what you want in your new life, that’s okay. For right now, you are focusing on your present life and your present challenges. In order to know where you’re going, you must know where you are right now. And if you’re confused as to what needs to change first in your present life, you will find that answer when you complete the Wheel of Midlife.
The purpose of the Wheel of Midlife is to evaluate all areas of your life to determine which areas need the most love, attention, and transformation.
Before we get started, you may download a free copy of the Wheel of Midlife workbook at wheelofmidlife.com. This will help you follow along with the instructions and help you complete the Wheel of Midlife. The workbook also has all the questions you will need to arrive at all your answers, so you can take that first step towards your next exciting chapter. Until then, you can draw on a piece of paper or just listen and learn.
Let’s get started!
Draw or imagine drawing a circle on a piece of paper. Divide the circle into 8 categories by drawing 4 lines from top to bottom, side to side, and diagonally. Basically, it looks like a pie with 8 slices. We are not going to use the pie metaphor, because then I’d have to change the name of this tool to the Pie of Midlife and that sounds a little weird. Plus, it makes me hungry!
So now you have your Wheel of Midlife with 8 sections. Those 8 sections are the 8 main categories of your life: Love, Career, Friends, Family, Finance, Personal Growth, Health, and Fun. You can write each category around the circle. Again, those categories are: Love, Career, Friends, Family, Finance, Personal Growth, Health, and Fun.
Think of each category being a spoke on a wheel, and if one of those spokes were shorter than the other spokes, it would be a rather wonky wheel. Your wheel won’t roll smoothly, and neither will your life. In order to have a smooth ride down the road to freedom, you need a smooth wheel. Don’t worry –– we will roll through this together. I’m on this road to freedom with you.
On each spoke of your wheel, starting at the center of the wheel to the outside circle, write the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Do this for each spoke of the wheel.
Assess your level of fulfillment on a scale of 1 to 10 (0=dissatisfied and 10=satisfied) for each of the 8 life categories, and mark each spoke accordingly. I included an example in the Wheel of Midlife Workbook.
Also, try not to overthink the 0 to 10 scale. What 10 means to you may mean something different to someone else. Trust your gut.
I have some questions that will help you evaluate each category. As I go through the questions for each category, think to yourself what ranking you would give for that category. Again, assess your level of fulfillment on a scale of 1 to 10 (0=dissatisfied and 10=satisfied). I will read them slowly so you have some time to think.
What score would you give the quality and quantity of your time with your closest family members?
What score would you rate your relationship with your children?
What score would you rate your relationship with your parents?
How comfortable do you feel about your financial situation — both present and future?
How would you rate the quality of your savings, investments, and pension to support you in the future?
What rating would you score yourself in terms of financial independence or freedom?
How happy are you with your overall health, wellness, and the general state of your physical body?
What would you score for the quality of your eating habits and diet?
What score would you give to the quality and quantity of your sleep?
How happy & fulfilled are you by your work?
How content are you with the hours you work?
How much are your gifts and strengths being utilized in your career?
How would you score your emotional health and mental wellbeing?
How aligned do you feel to an overall vision, purpose, and direction for your life?
What score would you give to the time you have off-line for personal reflection, prayer, or meditation?
How would you rate the quality of time you have each week for leisure and recreation?
Are you content with your ability to pursue your passions or hobbies?
How would you rate the time you have for fun and laughter?
How would you rate the overall quality of your current intimate relationship? If you are not currently in an intimate relationship, please rate your past or most recent relationship.
What score would you give to the communication with your spouse/partner/significant other?
How would you rate your romance and intimacy with your spouse/partner/significant other?
How would you score the breadth and depth of friendships that you enjoy?
Do you feel like you have sufficient quality time with your most important friends?
How would rate the time you have to socialize and make new friends and connections?
Okay, how did you do? Now that you have evaluated each of the 8 categories in your life, how do you feel about your life as you look or think about your Wheel of Midlife?
Is there anything that surprises you? If so, what?
When I evaluated the 8 categories of my life after I peeled myself off the bathroom floor and wiped away my tears, I realized that all 8 categories were ranked below 4. Every single one of them. This realization depressed me because it meant that my life was really jacked up. And it was. At least it was in that moment in time.
You may be experiencing a similar feeling, and if you are, don’t get stuck on the low numbers. Keep in mind that you are evaluating your present moment, and you are not stuck in this present moment. You are not stuck with anything! You are going to change your present situation to create a better future situation. Your wobbly wheel may be stuck in the ditch, but as you work through the next few steps, you will get your wheel out of the ditch and cruise on down the road of freedom.
Now you need to choose your lowest ranked category on your Wheel of Midlife. For example, when I completed the Wheel of Midlife during my Midlife Meltdown, the category of finances was ranked as a 1, so that was my lowest ranked category compared to the other categories.
If you have any categories that are tied, just pick one of them. There is no right or wrong answer. It’s your life. Besides, you will find that as you make changes in one category, the transformation spills over into the other categories of your life. Score!
After you have chosen your one category, write it down in your handy dandy Wheel of Midlife workbook or just keep that category in mind as we move forward.
Boosting this category will help balance your Wheel, so you can roll on outta here and into a life you love. Let’s get a more in depth look at your chosen category.
For this exercise, you will need to dive into your heart and dig up some answers to the following questions that I’m about to rattle off. If you’re driving or out on a walk and can’t write down your answers, just listen and think about your answers. If you can return to this episode later, listen to the questions, and take the time to write out your answers, it’s so worth it. There is power to putting pen to paper. This will help you gain clarity on writing your next chapter. Literally.
I will provide examples for each question by going back to my Midlife Meltdown and state what I said back then for the category of finances, my lowest ranked category.
1. Why is this category your lowest ranked category?
Because I am unemployed, I have over $150,000 in debt, and I am going through a divorce. Fun times.
2. What frustrates you the most about this area in your life?
You might need to dig a little bit on this one to truly get what pisses you off.
This was my response: I can’t stand being broke and not being able to pay bills. Why? Because I don’t have freedom to live my life my way and it stresses me out. Why? Because the stress causes anxiety and depression, which makes my body unhealthy. Why? Because I can’t control all the emotions. Why? Because my life is spiraling out of control.
Well, you get the gist of it. It’s obvious that this category stressed me out and as you can tell, it affected the areas of my life.
3. What do you love the most in this area in your life?
I love that I still have food in my belly, a car to drive, and a roof over my head. Although I’m barely getting by, I’m still able to take care of myself and my children.
4. How do you currently spend time in this area?
I spend time stressing about my finances rather than doing something about it. I spend more time being reactive than proactive. I spend more time worrying about what will happen if I don’t get a job soon and get this debt paid.
5. How would you like to spend time in this area?
I want to find a job that will bring me enough money to pay off all my debt, put some money into savings, and buy an awesome RV, so I can travel the country and start my own podcast.
No shit. True story. By the way, if you need proof that thoughts become things, that is your proof right there. Believe it and you will receive it.
6. What would a score of 10 look like to you?
A score of 10 would be 0 balance on my credit cards, $75,000 in the bank, the keys to a brand-new RV, and big ass grin on my face. That is a 10.
7. How will it benefit you to change this area in your life?
It will benefit me because I will actually get to live life my way. I will be free to be me. I will no longer be tethered and stuck in this exhausting chapter in my life.
8. How would your life be different?
My life will be sooo different. When, not IF, but WHEN, I gain financial freedom, I will be able to travel the country in my new RV, travel the world, invest in my business, have more fun, meet new people, help people in need, and buy some new shoes!
9. How would YOU be different?
Oh my gosh. I would literally save myself. I would feel so much more confident and secure with myself. I would feel like I finally did something for Wendy. I made her #1. I could express myself, use my gifts, my strengths, and most importantly, fulfill my purpose in life as a writer and motivational speaker. Yes! I would feel like a total badass that I made a comeback in my life. I would feel and act like my true authentic self.
10. If you were to increase your satisfaction by only one score, what changes would need to take place?
I need a job, I need to pay off my credit cards, I need to pay off my loans, I need to get through this divorce.
11. What change would you like to happen first? Choose one.
I need a job.
12. How could you make space for this change in your life?
I need to put everything else aside in my life right now and focus on finding a job. No excuses.
13. What help and support might you need from others to make changes and be more satisfied with your life?
It would be great if my friends and family could cheer me on to overcome this challenge.
14. What is your greatest fear about making this change in your life?
Not being qualified to make enough money to make it all happen. Not being good enough.
15. What is the smallest step you could take to improve this area in your life?
Create an account on Indeed.com and start submitting my resume to a ton of employers all over the country! I will not stop until I get a job.
And I didn’t. True story –– In just 4 weeks, I got a job selling new home construction and moved to Chicago. I was out of debt in under 1 year and bought my new RV in 2 years. And here I am recording this podcast from the little dinette table in my sexy RV. Pretty wild ride you guys! Again, you can have anything you want. You just have to believe it and you will receive it.
The answer to that last question is your first step. For me, it was getting a j-o-b! It might seem time consuming, but I encourage you to answer all these questions. It will provide you with the answers you need. It will help you arrive at your next step in your life.
Furthermore, by taking that first step towards changing your life, you will find that it becomes easier and easier to make more changes. As you see positive changes taking place in your life, you will crave more positive changes. Positivity will become your new passion.
Make sure you check out WheelofMidlife.com to get your own personal copy of the Wheel of Midlife. It is a tool you can use several times throughout your life to do a quick check-in on how your life is going. I actually just completed my Wheel of Midlife today and it looks like I my wheel is getting a little wonky. It’s time to make some changes!
I hope you found this episode helpful, and you are ready to make some positive changes in your life. I’m positive that you will make it all happen!
Thanks Midlifers! Talk you on Thursday!
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