How do you find your purpose?
This model makes it look easy. You only have to answer 4 questions.
But sometimes a model is counterproductive.
What kind of answer are you looking for?
And do you really need it?
Let’s explore the above Venn-diagram for purpose finding. A Spanish astrologist developed it years ago. Then blogger Marc Winn put the term Ikigai in the middle: A Japanese concept that describes what you find meaningful and what makes you happy.
The model went viral
Winn got the ikigai-concept from a TEDTalk on the blue zones. Blue zones are areas in the world where many people live a 100 years or more. And what turns out: If you know your ikigai, you live longer and happier.
But the 100-year-old’s do not need a model to find their ikigai
They immediately know the answer. Like the great-grandma: She just wants to hold her great-grandchild. Or the grandpa that works in his garden every day.
Do you only live a successful live if you end up in the center?
In the related Hedgehog concept of Jim Collins that is where you need to be.
His hedgehog comes from a parable by the greek poet Archilochus: The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing. The fox thinks of all kinds of strategies to catch his prey. But he does not get the hedgehog: His spines always work.
By finding your hedgehog concept you can turn a successful company into a great company says Collins in his book Good to Great.
The hedgehog concept is not a strategy
It is not something you pursue, it is an insight: What could your company be the best in the world at?
When you discover that, you skip everything else. All organizational activity is targeted to the further development of the hedgehog concept.
But does that also work for you – as a person?
The philosopher Isaiah Berlin sees the hedgehog and the fox as 2 ways to approach life. He uses the dichotomy as a playful pair of glasses to compare a number of big thinkers.
The fox pursues diverging interests and takes his experiences for what they are. The hedgehog has a central vision on life through which he looks at the world. He tries to fit everything in his worldview.
The divide is a starting point for a 63-page essay in which Berlin studies the work of Tolstoi.
That is how you can use a model to explore your purpose
As a pair of glasses: an entrance for reflection.
And no, you do not have to write an essay. A few mindmaps are enough.
Watch out: Don’t turn your specs into a hedgehog
Not everything you come across has to fit in the 4 balls. And not all your activities have to direct you towards the center. Then you get stuck.
You see more when you take the fox approach
You look at your experiences with an open mind. When you explore activities in different areas you have a bigger repertoire to fall back on in a challenging situation.
Your purpose is not a question with one overall answer
It is about the attention you give to what you do. And it changes during your lifetime.
It does help when you think about what is important to you and about what energizes you.
So you can base your choices on that
Who knows: Maybe you discover connections you did not see before.
A model makes purpose finding manageable, but you can also get stuck. Not all your experiences fit in a closed framework. And they don’t have to.
Print the pdfs and reflect on what matters to you. Or water your plants.