Retirement Wheel of Life

Retirement Wheel of Life

The idea of a “wheel of life” is a well-established approach in life coaching. It’s a simple but profound tool that gives clients the opportunity to look across the different areas of life and take a temperature check of how they are doing though using a simple scoring system.

There are always different areas we could use to review, but I chose areas that I thought people considering or in retirement would respond to coming into to a huge transition in their lives.

The idea of this coaching tool is that it would invariably used by someone thinking about retirement as a prelude to a conversation with a trusted other or a Coach.


The areas I have suggested are:



Close Family Is there close family around or people who feel like family?


Wider social networks; hobbies and friendships


The social networks and hobbies and interests you as an individual have and friendship groups; e.g., sports, social clubs, hobbies like sailing or walking




Sufficient income to support your retirement and plans in place to manage this


Wider social networks; hobbies and activities



The social networks and hobbies and interests you as an individual have; e.g., sports, social clubs, hobbies like sailing or walking


Personal growth and learning


What changes might be required in the actions the you take in your day-to-day life; the level of flexibility you have to change and your ongoing growth; e.g. maintaining IT skills


Work re-orientation



How you might have re-orientated from a normal work pattern to perhaps doing some work/paid or unpaid and things like volunteering


Health and planning ahead


Awareness of your own and significant others aging and plans/ideas in terms of handling frailty as you get older


Having time out


How much you have time out to replenish the batteries and space for yourself


The wheel of retirement exercise is here: Healthy wheel of life for Retirement final

The Healthy Mind Platter

The Healthy Mind Platter

Healthy Mind PlatterThe Healthy Mind Platter has seven daily essential mental activities necessary for optimum mental health. It was created by Dan Siegel and David Rock, two leaders in neuroscience work.

These seven daily activities make up the full set of “mental nutrients” that your brain and relationships need to function at their best. By engaging every day in each of these “servings”, you promote integration in your life and enable your brain to coordinate and balance its activities. These essential mental activities strengthen your brain’s internal connections and your connections with other people and the world around you.

The activities are:

  • Focus time
  • Play/leisure time
  • Connecting time
  • Physical time
  • Time in
  • Down time
  • Sleep time

By adding an eighth ingredient nutrition, I have created a Healthy Mind Platter Wheel which will make a good practical Coaching Tool, which you can access by clicking on the link.

Getting the best from coaching

Getting the best from Coaching; a client perspective

This is an article for existing clients and potential new clients to give them some ideas on what coaching is, what to expect from it and how to get the best from the coaching experience. This is based on many years of working with a myriad of different clients with different needs from different sectors. I strive wholeheartedly to make the coaching experience a positive and fulfilling one for clients, aiming to emotionally intuit as well as rationally think the ways that individuals get the best from the coaching experience.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a form of learning where a coach supports a client to undergo learning and personal growth in a way that benefits them. Coaching is normally a series of conversations one person has with another at a series of sessions, as well as some contact in between (this depends on how the coach works: I encourage some contact in between sessions to help motivation as they are often 3-4 weeks apart). The coach intends to create conversations that will benefit the client in a way that is cathartic to their learning and progress, buts its very much a “dual alliance” between client and coach.

My favourite definition of coaching is by Julie Starr: “Coaching is a conversation with a purpose, also a space where someone can think through what is going on for them and an opportunity to do ‘great thinking’’. One of the key principles that separates it from therapy or counselling is that the client is in a resourceful state. He or she has not come to be ‘fixed’ but has the ability to resolve his or her own situation with the support of the coach. Coaching is about change. Its purpose is to help the client become more effective in whatever they are working on.

In terms of the length of coaching work, whilst the requirements for each project should be considered on a case by case basis, coaching focuses on some specific challenges and typically a coaching relationship lasts for 6-8 sessions over several months with sessions being typically 4 weekly apart. In some cases the client can re-engage the coach to do some follow up coaching periodically over a longer term.

Why do people have coaching?

People enlist the services of a coach because they want to learn new ways of thinking through and approaching situations.

A coach uses a combination of observation, questioning, listening and feedback to create a conversation that’s rich in insight and learning. For the client they typically develop a greater self awareness and appreciation of their own circumstances along with a willingness to be proactive and undertake actions. In addition, they will also create new ways to resolve issues, produce better results and generally achieve their goals more easily.

Common benefits people experience from coaching include:

  • Improved sense of direction and focus
  • Increased knowledge of self/self-awareness
  • Improved ability to relate to and influence others
  • Increased motivation and “follow through” on things
  • Improved personal effectiveness
  • Increased resourcefulness/resilience, e.g. ability to handle change

What you can expect from me as your Coach

The role of a coach provides a kind of support distinct from any other. I aim to focus solely on your situation with the kind of attention and commitment that you wouldn’t get in day to day interactions with people. I will listen to you, with a genuine curiosity to understand who you are, what you think and generally how you experience the world. During conversations, I will encourage you to rise to challenges (and sometimes challenge you!), overcome obstacles and move into action.

Because the relationship is based on trust and openness, the content of our discussions will be confidential. Where a third party (perhaps an employer) has initially requested the coaching for you, I will agree with you the best way for us to keep them updated but not any of the confidential content of the sessions.

I do ask that at the start of each piece of coaching work that we agree a coaching plan and contract. This sets out the main objectives of the coaching work, as well as the way we are going to work together. It is also important for us to review progress at the mid-point to assess if coaching is achieving the desired outcomes, and any alternative interventions that could be offered.

What I as a Coach expect from you

I look for you to stay committed to the coaching process. That means showing up for sessions (face to face or virtual), taking your own notes where appropriate (though I always write up and send an overview of the session and actions) and to keep any agreements you make during sessions.

I look for you to be open to the potential of coaching. That means contributing to conversations openly and honestly. For example, if something isn’t working, I need to know. If you have concerns or problems, it is important to voice them. The strength and power of coaching relates strongly to the level of openness and trust between us.

I hope for clients to develop a blend of strengths to help coaching work (with my support) that includes things like building self-awareness, the ability to challenge self, to set goals and take action, to be persistent and to work on your self-belief to move forward.

Some tips on getting the best from the Coaching experience as a client

Based on several years of client experience:

  • Don’t “back end” actions if you can possibly help it; some of the clients I have worked with (where coaching has worked best) have booked time out/ set time aside every week to both work on actions from previous sessions and/or reflect on the coaching work and any changes they need to make
  • Consider creating a Coaching journal; several clients have done this and find it enhances the learning and the follow through from sessions. This can be as simple as buying a new notebook that you write things in during a typical week. One client I worked with found time at the end of a working week to use the writing as a reflective process to look at progress on the areas they were working on
  • Encourage informal 360 feedback from others around you. 360 feedback is a formal HR tool that is used in many organisations formally, but it doesn’t have to be onerous to do informally. One client I am working with asked these simple questions of others they worked with as colleagues: Have you noticed any difference in me and the way that I work since xx date? Can you offer one example of something I do that you appreciate and would like me to build on? Can you offer one example of something I do that you find unhelpful and that you would like me to do differently? Is there any other feedback you would like to take this opportunity to give?
  • When you have a session coming up, ask yourself what you want from the session; what would make it a really good session? (see example preparation template below). Sometimes coaching happens “in the moment” but sometimes it is about thinking something through beforehand that you want to bring up; one client writes and sends through a reflective piece in preparation for the session a few days beforehand that we use to reflect on during the session
  • Take time out for your own review of your progress perhaps a few sessions into the project; how do you think the coaching is going? What is working for you? What are you struggling with? Is there anything you would like me to do differently? (see below possible templates to help support this)
  • Go back periodically to the Coaching plan you set out at the start of the coaching work; how far do you think you have come since then? Are your overall objectives the same or different since the start of the coaching work? (they often change during the coaching project)
  • Are there any learning resources or “coaching tools” you have picked up along the way that you have found illuminating and useful? These might be things like Psychometric tests, career review exercises or psychological exercises around areas like self-confidence; it might be worth creating a Learning folder for these to come back to at periodic intervals in the future. For example, it could be helpful to understand how behaviour change works for individuals through something like the “stages of change” (or transtheoretical) model to help understand that recidivism or slipping back is inherent in any change process before we break through to make sustainable change
  • Remember the cost-reward ratio; a client said to me recently of coaching: “what you get out of it depends on what you put into it”

Possible processes and paperwork that may help

I know that coaching processes and paperwork aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I have had plenty of coaching projects that have involved nothing other than a Coaching plan/contract and session notes. However, processes and paperwork can help at times to structure things a little as milestones of progress or reflective learning.

General forms

COACHING PREPARATION FORM: a simple reflective exercise that encourages to think about whats happened since last session; positives., challenges and any particular focus for the session coming up

Blank Reflection Note a simple reflection process of some key questions about an experience and what you have learnt

Overall Coaching project review approaches

These are a few approaches to stepping away from the day to day work of coaching, and reflecting on overall progress:

WHAT HAS CHANGED FOR ME IN COACHING: This is a simple review template that provides an opportunity to reflect on where you are as a coaching client by looking back to when you started, where you are now, and what challenges still remain

Coaching Review questionairre 2020: a detailed questionairre that enables you to assess your progress on a periodic basis including areas like career, finance, health and development.

Tolerations: Sometimes when people are feeling out of control just being able to tick or give attention and deal with bits and pieces on the list helps. This is a list of “100 tolerations” to review



Past present and future Coaching Tool

Past/Present/Future Coaching Tool

past present futureA question  arising early in the coaching relationship is how are the coach and client going to spend their time together and which time will they spend this time on?  Will they concentrate more on the past, looking back in anger (sadness, joy…)?  Or, will they ‘seize the day’, trying to ‘go with the flow’ in the momentum of being alive and ‘open’ to the present moment?  Or, might they anticipate the future, bright or otherwise, perhaps in the belief that pro-activity is crucial and failing to plan is planning to fail?

For some people, there’s no contest.  It has to be the present.  That’s the place to start from, ‘The past is history, the future’s a mystery, that’s why the present’s a gift’, they claim. Meditation practice focuses on the present, the here and now.  The argument between the past and the future is represented by the two giants of therapeutic thinking.  In the red corner, psychoanalysis insists that the present and future can only be understood in the context of the past, ’Those who cannot understand the past are condemned to repeat it’.  They turn to the metaphor of archaeology claiming that any way of life is best understood by excavating and piecing together its artefacts, some of which have been deeply buried for many years.

In the blue corner, cognitive behavioural approaches argue that it is a waste of time and money to self indulgently wallow in past memories (many of which are probably spurious at best and maybe even false anyway).  There’s no point crying over spilt milk.  Better to concentrate on cleaning up the mess and learning how not to spill it again in future.  Never mind what has happened.  What do you want to happen?  Start with the end in mind, plan proactively, set objectives, aims, goals and evaluate.  That’s the way; forwards, not backwards… onwards, upwards…

In a therapeutic context, a therapist talked of her work with adolescents who had suffered trauma.  She said, most trauma-free adolescents would see their life in terms of importance of time frames as follows


The future’s the thing.  Where it’s happening.  What to do? Where to go?  Who with?  What to be (or at least what to appear to be on social networks)?

However, for those who are affected by life-changing trauma, they cannot have this hopeful, forward-looking perspective.  They are condemned/confined to the past.  They see the times as:

PAST..Present future.

 The exercise

past present future 2If this is so, it’s important that Coaches get to know which of the three broad time frames are most important to their client and when.  If they don’t, they will be talking at cross-purposes, the time will be out of joint and they might sound like they are using a different language. The Coach can also encourage the client to “time travel” and spend time inhabiting each of these time frames to reflect on the broad canvas of their journey.

Past, Present and Future Coaching tool covers areas of prevailing drivers, key relationships, work, and  relationship with oneself as an individual.

The Coaching tool was developed jointly by David Crowe and Martin Smith.