Yarigai as systemic approach for finding your purpose in life

Why put effort in understanding the Yarigai diagram?

The main reason to go through the Yarigai diagram, is because the world doesn’t stand still and nor should you. Because life changes, you have to change with it. Change can be really seen as an inevitability. Trying to control it burns your energy which you could otherwise have put in living a more passionate life. The challenge is that people are typical creatures of habit. This means that once the external situation changes, you may have to get rid of certain certainties. To be able to do that, you need to change the view on change, which is an inevitability rather than a necessity.


Next to that, you want to be as conscious as possible. Conscious of your patterns which may hinder going through new changes. The Yarigai diagram is aimed to help you with this awareness process. It helps you to discover what kind of activities you want to start, maximize, minimize or even quit in order to guide yourself through the changing world. At first glance it may look like the Yarigai diagram is meant to control change. But really the opposite is the case. By finding a (new) balance of the Yarigai diagram to your current situation, you will embrace the change. This will naturally result in more fulfillment, freedom and fun.

The Yarigai Diagram explained

If you’re seeing the Yarigai diagram for the first time, it may take you a moment to fully grasp it. It works best to first look at the elements individually, which is:

  1. The Yarigai spot (in the center)
  2. The 4 questions (in the circles)
  3. The 4 input areas (in the circles)
  4. The 4 output areas (in the overlaps)

1. The Yarigai sweet spot (in the center)

Let’s start with the center of the diagram. Yarigai is a Japanese concept and can be translated as the art or purpose of doing. This differs from the populair Ikigai concept which means the purpose of being instead. The Yarigai diagram is all about discovering the activities which give you a feeling of purpose. Therefore, you want to put your attention to the other elements.

2. The four questions (in the circles)

Each of the four circles include a question and an input area. The questions are leading. To find answers on the questions, you have to dwell on the input and output areas next. You can view the questions as the reason to go through the fields in the first place. Which means that if you can already answer the questions in great detail, there is no need to cover the input and output blocks. Unless it involves an unbalanced situation which you’ll recognize by a lack of the output blocks. For example insufficient income as a possibility of making little progress.

It’s important to find the right balance between the opposing questions, which is:

  • ‘What do you want to express?’ VS. ‘What do you want to contribute?’
  • ‘What do you want to try out?’ VS. ‘What do you want to continue?’

In short, we’re talking about finding the right balance between self-expression and group-cohesion on the one hand. And experimentation and continuation on the other hand.

But how to find the right balance?

3. The four input areas (in the circles)

To find the right balance between the opposing questions, you want to put energy into the right input areas. You can put your focus on:

  • Your passion: what gives you energy?
  • The picture: what is your vision for something you’d like to initiate?
  • The people: what are the needs of the stakeholders of your initiative?
  • The policy: what are the rules and guidelines related to your initiative?

It’s good to know that these input areas are all just as important. But when you skipped one of these areas, you want to make that one more important for some amount of time. After all, the chain is as strong as the weakest link.

4. The four output areas (in the overlaps)

By giving enough attention to the input areas, the output areas will be a natural result. That’s the reason why those output areas are being found in the overlaps of the circles. 

  • A strong proposition (USP’s) can be realized by activating the passion and picture input
  • Enough proof (confirmed USP’s) for your proposition will be received by activating the picture and people input
  • Sufficient progress (KPI’s) will be achieved by activating the people and policy input
  • Enough pleasure (SWLS) will be experienced by activating your policy and passion input

By giving enough attention to all of the input areas, a feeling of purpose (Yarigai) will be experienced right away whereas the output areas can take some time. It could take a year of effort in order to reap the fruits from your past efforts in the form of the output areas. This even include the feeling of pleasure of that which you’re working on. That’s why you often hear from people that you first need to give something a chance before deciding it’s nothing for you.

The integration of Spiral Dynamics

The colors of the blocks are there for a good reason. Not because the diagram looks a bit more appealing because of it, although is does ;-).

So, what’s the reason? To understand this, you have to be familiar with a different model called Spiral Dynamics (click here for more information). This model dwells on the deeper motivations of humans behavior. Spiral Dynamics basically helps you to better understand the society we live in. Not only on a collective level, but also individually. It’s applicable for yourself, other individuals, organizations, teams within organizations and small to big communities.

Spiral Dynamics makes distinction between different value systems. Each of those value systems has a different colour and represent a different level of complexity it can handle. Beige is the least complex system whereas turquoise if the most complex system (which is known by enough people). New value systems, like coral, will be added once enough people in society has been evolved. This means there is no holy grail which you can achieve. There is no end to it. The endless spiral keeps growing together with us.

The newer value systems transcend and include the less complex systems. You can imagine that if you’re trying to go through an evolutionary change, you might need to make previous value systems healthy again. Because the less complex systems are the foundation of your current primary value system. To evolve to a more complex system, you must first solidify the previous systems as well in order to achieve sustainable change.

The input and output areas each represent one of the value systems. It’s good to know that it’s a highly simplified representation of the connected value systems. To be able to properly function in a Western environment, you want to integrate the purple, red, blue, orange and green value system. If you’re not able to deliver the input which is needed to live a more balanced life, you want to zoom in to the correlated value system. For example, the people input doesn’t come naturally to you. In that case you want to dwell on the green value system. It’s most likely that you’ll find some room for improvement by doing so.

How to put the Yarigai diagram into practice

By now you know what it will bring you to start using the Yarigai diagram. Also, you understand the model. ‘But now what?’ you may ask yourself.

You’re already putting the diagram into practice by trying to understand it better. It will give you some structure in your head. Maybe not right after your understanding, but step for step. By repeatedly going back to the Yarigai diagram and asking yourself the four questions, you’ll activate the Yarigai mindset. With the Yarigai mindset I mean the balanced way of looking at the changeable world.

If this still sounds a bit vague to you, I’ve got some good news for you. Knowing the theory is one and can already be very valuable. But bringing it into practice is eventually going to make the difference. To make this process a lot more actionable and applicable, I made the Yarigai cyclus. This cyclus around the Yarigai diagram shows you the sequence of the processes. The processes connect the input areas to the output areas. You basically activate the Yarigai diagram by going through the steps. The Yarigai diagram and Yarigai cyclus are forming a system together. Because each system consists of input, a process and output. Therefore, the complete methodology is called the Yarigai system. Click here to find out more about the complete methodology.

Yarigai system
Yarigai system

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