I developed a tool to connect your business goals to your core values. This will be insightful and helpful for determining your business focus. The tool is called the Yarigai Questions Canvas. It’s a visual way to connect your goals and values so that you instantly instantly see the systemic nature between those. Let’s cover the tool in more detail and make it practical for you with a clear roadmap of 10 steps!
Introduction to the Yarigai Diagram
You don’t want to confuse the Yarigai diagram with the Ikigai diagram. Although the structure is the same (they are both a Venn-diagram with a sweet-spot and they both contain certain results in the overlaps), the content is very different.
The yarigai diagram consists of four components:
- The yarigai sweet-spot
- The yarigai questions
- The yarigai resources in the circles
- The yarigai results in the overlaps
Take note: In this article we’ll only discuss the yarigai sweet-spot and the yarigai questions. Let’s go shortly through these two components before going through the steps.
The Yarigai sweet-spot
The yarigai sweet-spot is about viewing the process of doing as a goal on itself. It’s about experiencing the process of working as an effortless art. You may already be familiar with the Japanese concept Ikigai, which means the value of being. Yarigai means the value of doing instead. Yarigai can also be translated as the purpose, reason or meaning of doing. Both ikigai and yarigai are day-to-day expressions in Japan.
Whereas ikigai could be anything which gives you meaning in life, yarigai is widely used when one refers to a job. It’s therefore work-related. Next to that, Ikigai is about your passion whereas yarigai is about fulfilling your potential. Yarigai is the sweet-spot of the yarigai diagram and system. The goal of the system is to activate yarigai, so that you’ll experience more flow, fulfillment, and freedom.
The yarigai questions
The goal of answering the yarigai questions is to facilitate and stimulate yarigai. Because in order to facilitate yarigai, a good balance will certainly be helpful. The yarigai questions will navigate you towards finding a better balance. Which will result in less resistance within your doing. A right balance can be found within both your values (top & bottom question) and goals (left & right circle).
The questions connected to your core values part are: ‘What do I want to self-express?’ versus ‘What do I want to contribute?’. An obsessive focus on the self-expression part will result in being too selfish. Whereas an unhealthy focus on the contribution part leads to neglecting your own health, social, and financial needs.
The opposing questions connected to your main goals part are: ‘What do I want to continue?’ versus ‘What do I want to create?’. Too much of the same may lead to low energy, boredom, or even bore-out. Too much focus on starting new challenges on the other hand may lead to stress, overwork, or burn-out.
A valuable by-product of answering the Yarigai questions, is that you stimulate getting insights about how to better align your goals with your values. That’s because you’re getting more aware about the connection between those two. By writing down what is really important to you, you may discover new goals. And by writing down your goals, you may bring to the surface which is actually driving you.
PART 1. Values: ‘What do I want to self-express?’ versus ‘What do I want to contribute?’
These opposing questions are about getting your core values to the surface. Some of your values are focused on self-expression whereas others are more focused on contribution instead. Making this distinction will help you to discover your dominant focus, which can be more individualistic in some life stages and collective in other life stages. There is no better or worse.
Making this distinction is the basis of the theory behind Spiral Dynamics. The spiral swings back and forth between dominant self-expression values and dominant contribution values. Each time you’re making a leap in your consciousness, you’ll start to develop new self-expression values when you’re coming from a dominant contribution value system. And when you’re coming from a dominant self-expression value system instead, you’ll develop new contribution values.
Spiral Dynamics is, increasing in complexity, build up of different value systems. Every individual and organisation has a certain dominant value system. To make distinction between those different value systems, each system has its own color. The least complex value system is beige and is focused on self-expression. After this system, you’ll develop a focus on contribution which is part of the purple value system. And after this you’ll develop a self-expression focus again, but a more evolved version of it. You get the point by now.
The value systems with warm colours (beige, red, orange, yellow) are about self-expression and the systems with cool colours (purple, blue, green, turquoise) are about group-cohesion instead. Let’s give you some examples. First of all, let’s go through the warm-coloured systems which are focused on self-expression. You’ve got the red (ego) system with highly values power, confidence, and domination. The orange (success) system mainly values excellence, autonomy, and self-development. And the yellow value system primarily values innovation, transcendence, and emergence.
Now that I gave a few examples for key values connected to self-expression, let’s also go shortly through the value systems with the cool colours. The purple (family) system characterises values like safety, stability, and brotherhood. The blue (society) system mainly values morality, responsibility, and purpose. The green (community) system values harmony, equality, and sharing. And lastly the turquoise (holistic) system, with key values like acceptance, compassion, and wholeness.
STEP 1. Which 5 values, related to yourself, are mainly driving you?
This question is about getting your core values, related to what YOU want, to the surface. So I’m not talking about the values that you live by, like honesty, respect, and loyalty.
The opposite of the self-expression values are the values aimed at others, like connection and compassion. We’ll cover these kind of values in the next step, but first let’s look at your values related to self-expression. Think about the values that motivate you to achieve what you personally want in life. How you would ideally express yourself.
A few examples of typical self-expression values are:
- Creativity: To express your creativity in many ways
- Courage: The willingness to speak up with candour when you have something important to say—even if it is unpopular or uncomfortable for others to hear
- Freedom: Live up to your own terms without having to conform to other people’s standards.
- Self-awareness: To become more aware of who you are
- Happiness: To be happy as much as possible.
Other examples are power, confidence, domination, excellence, autonomy, self-development, and innovation.
Often, these self-expression values are also partially related to group-cohesion. We’ll cover the group-cohesion values, as mentioned earlier, in the next step. So if any of the values which pop up right now mostly belongs to group-cohesion, then save those for the next step. Because you want to place the value to which is belongs to most.
Now it’s time for you to think about your core values related to expressing yourself.
STEP 2. Which 5 values, related to others, are mainly driving you?
Now that we’ve been looking at your core values related to self-expression, we want to also cover the other type of values. I’m talking about the values related to group-cohesion.
These kind of values are somehow connected to others, either individuals or groups. Group-cohesion values are not always easy to identify. They can be hidden from us or buried under certain beliefs that we hold. They can be things like “kindness” or “honesty” that sound obvious but can be hard to put into practice. They can also be more complex ideas like “respecting differences” or “leading by example” which takes some thought to define clearly.
A few examples of group-cohesion values are:
- Humility: Knowing that we are all equal in value, regardless of background or position.
- Inclusion: Being part of a community where diverse perspectives are valued and embraced.
- Commitment. A deep sense of loyalty to the team, its mission, and its members’ success.
- Trust: Having faith that you can rely on others for support and guidance.
- Openness: Willing to share ideas with others without fear of judgment or rejection.
Other examples are safety, stability, brotherhood, morality, responsibility, purpose, harmony, equality, sharing, acceptance, compassion, and unity.
Now it’s time for you to think about your core values related to others.
STEP 3. Which 3 values do you give too little attention to?
We all have values. We make decisions and live our lives based on them. But when we get busy and distracted, it’s easy to forget what really matters to us.
If you don’t give your core values the attention they deserve, you risk losing sight of what really matters. You may find yourself waking up one day with a sense of dissatisfaction about your life or business.
If you had a hard time figuring out your core values in the previous steps, then there’s a good chance that you’ve already neglected them. They might have been crowded out by other priorities, or they may have become invisible during periods when you weren’t paying attention to them.
In that case, you want to ask yourself: What do I value most in life? What are my top priorities? As you reflect on these questions and consider your choices over time, you’ll begin to see patterns emerging in your behaviour and attitudes. And your values become more clear.
Now take a moment to think about which one of your values you’re giving too little attention to.
STEP 4. Looking at all of the values you’ve written down, which 3 values are most important to you?
Your core values can be anything, but they should be the ones that guide you in making the right business decisions and taking action. It’s essential to have a set of core values that are deeply ingrained in who you are and what you believe.
They will help guide your business life and provide a framework for making decisions about what is good or bad for you, and what is worth pursuing and what is not. They will also help you make sense of who you are and why you do what you do.
But remember, just because something comes up as a core value doesn’t mean it’s a good one. There are usually quite a few things we value that actually don’t lead us in the right direction. So if a core value keeps coming up — even though it may be one of those “negative” ones like “I hate change” or “I don’t want to work hard” — pay attention to it and try to figure out what’s behind it.
Which 3 core values are most important to you?
PART 2. Goals: ‘What do I want to continue’ versus ‘What do I want to create?’
If something is important to you, you of course want to bring it to expression. For this, you want to develop goals so that you exactly know in which way you want to bring it to expression. You could ask for each of your core values how you would like to give expression to it. Some of your goals may be connected to more than just one core value, which could indicate that it’s an important goal for you.
Just as you want to divide your core values, you also want to divide your goals. You do this by making a distinction between goals focused on continuation versus creation. A goal around continuation is all about getting more of something you’ve already got. For example boosting your revenue, getting more clients, or writing articles more often and consistently. A goal focused on creation is about anything which is new to you. This could be to write your first book, getting your first client, or creating your first prototype.
The most balanced goals are ideally connected to both kind of values, so those which are focused on self-expression and group-cohesion. But please take note that it’s not necessary to only focus on the most balanced goals. Because goals which are strongly connected to a core value related to either self-expression or contribution can just be as valuable to pursue.
STEP 5. Which 3 incremental business goals (aimed at improving/increasing) are most important to you?
Goals related to improving or increasing something are known as “incremental” goals, like increasing market share or improving customer service. This can also include goals which are aimed at decreasing and reducing something, like decreasing your overall costs or reducing the product defects.
Incremental goals are specific and measurable. They can be short-term, mid-term and long-term and can be set for example by drawing on the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed).
Examples of incremental business goals include:
- Increasing sales by 10% over a period of one year.
- Decreasing costs by 10% over a period of six months.
- Increasing profits by 20% in 12 months time.
Now it’s time for you to determine your 3 most important incremental business goals.
STEP 6. Which 1 incremental business goal (aimed at improving/increasing) is most important to you?
In the previous step you’ve chosen your top-3 incremental business goals. Now it’s time to select your most important one. Because as you’ll understand, focusing on just 1 goal increases the likelihood of achieving it tremendously. That’s because you can build up momentum much quicker and get results sooner. This quick feedback loop will contribute to an upward spiral, from getting more motivated (because of the good results) to getting quicker to even better results.
STEP 7. Which values are driving your most important incremental business goal (aimed at improving/increasing)?
In the first two steps you worked out your top-5 values for both those related to self-expression and group-cohesion. Now you want to ask yourself which of those values are actually the driver behind your most important goal. If it’s not connected to any of your values, you either want to add different core values (which you forgot about earlier) or choose a different business goal (which is strongly connected to some of your core values).
STEP 8. Which 3 goals, aimed at starting something you don’t have or do yet, are most important to you?
It is important for any business to be innovative and to keep up with the latest trends in your industry. But it can also be difficult for a small business to make this happen. Especially when you are just starting out or if you don’t have a team, you do not have the cash flow or the manpower to do everything you want for your business. That’s why it’s important to look at your most important goals related to creation and focus on just those.
Here are some business goals related to starting something new:
- Create a prototype for an innovative product idea
- Create a new brand for your company or business
- Launch a new marketing campaign for your business
- Build a website from scratch or redesign your current one
- Write a book about a new method you invented
Take some time now to determine your 3 most important business goals which are aimed at starting something you don’t have or do yet.
STEP 9. Which 1 goal, aimed at starting something you don’t have or do yet, is most important to you?
This step is similar as step 6, except that it’s related to your top-3 goals aimed at starting something you don’t have or do yet (instead of your goals aimed at improving or increasing something). Look at your answers of the previous step and pick your most important goal. Again, this will help you with getting results way quicker so you’ll stay more motivated along the way of realising it.
STEP 10. Which values are driving your 1 most important goal aimed at starting something you don’t have or do yet?
Just like the previous step, this step also sounds familiar to you. That’s because we already covered which values are driving your most important incremental goal. But again, this step is not related to your incremental goals. It’s connected to your goals regarding starting something new. This having said, which values (which you worked out in step 1 and 2) are driving your most important goal (which you picked in the previous step)?
Alright, by now you’ve worked out all of the steps of the Yarigai Questions. This will certainly help you go get more focus and be more certain on what to focus on in the first place. I wish you good luck with the process of achieving your most important goal. It’s recommended to repeat these steps once every half year. Your core values could change a big deal after achieving certain goals (and therefore fulfilling certain values). That’s why you should update those values (and connected to that your business goals) regularly.