What is your Ikigai?

Blue Zone Okinawa
8 min read

Summary: This article explains how you can find your Ikigai. A Japanese word meaning “life goal” or “the reason for being”. People living their Ikigai feel fulfilled, have wellness, joy, happiness and have balance in the daily routine of life.

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This summer I went to visit the island of Okinawa. It’s a wonderful place and the islands (jima) around it are even more beautiful. I encourage you to visit them.

Okinawa is one of the 5 area’s where people live the healthier, longer and are the more happy than other places in the world. These areas are the so called ‘Blue Zones’.  They are:

  • The island Icaria (Greece);
  • Okinawa (Japan);
  • Ogliastra, Sardinia (Italy);
  • Nicoya Peninsula (Costa Rica);
  • Loma Linda (California).

It was Dan Buettner who identified the 5 Blue zones in the November 2005 issue of National Geographic. Many studies including thousands of people have been done to find out why they are healthier, live longer and are happier than others.

What is it in their lifestyle that contributes to these benefits? Find below some factors that I have found:

Healthy Diet

Many studies show that healthy diet is a reason for a long life. The diet is mainly plant based and includes the intake of soybeans, olive oil and fish. Very little meat is consumed by people who live in a blue zone. For more information about their diet, I recommend you to read this excellent article.

Natural Movement

People who live in a Blue Zone move naturally. That means that they do not sit behind a desk for long hours. What they often do is gardening or they go for a walk.

Down shift

After their daily activities, they take time to rest and recharge (by taking a nap). They enjoy drinking tea during the day or a glass of wine at 05:00pm with their friends and loved ones.

80% Rule

The 80% Rule here is not the 80/20 Pareto Principle which states that toughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of our actions.
In the west, we are motivated to give 100% or better yet 110% of our energy, attention and focus towards reaching our targets. Of course you can do this once in a while but not all the time. You will deplete yourself from energy. I am not surprised that this, among other factors, can lead to a burn-out.

People who live in a Blue zone give all their attention and energy to a particular task, but they make sure they still have 20% of energy left for other activities. So they stop when they have used 80% of their energy.

The 80% rule also applies to nourishment. When eating, many stop eating when they are 80% full. They never overeat, like many in the West tend to do.

Right tribe

Living in the right tribe with loved ones helps to live longer and healthier. People who live in Blue Zones live in a community where there is a strong sense of belonging. The social aspect of people checking in with you (during tea…) and caring about you plays an important role in living longer and happier.

Simple life

Most people who live in a Blue Zone life a simple life, they do not have many possessions and little to worry about. They are content with what they have and are not occupied in obtaining what they do not possess.


This is the Japanese word for “life goal” or “the reason for being”. People who live in a Blue Zone have a life goal or a purpose. They know each morning why they come out of bed and do what they have to do. Having a Ikigai gives them direction and the satisfaction to contribute. Also it gives them connection with others and to the outside world. Then it motivates them to have healthy habits (in nutrition, activities, relationships,…).

Ikigai is a way of life (lifestyle) that strives to balance the practical with the spiritual.

My main Ikigai is “to serve by facilitating so that others can elevate themselves and experience more happiness and love.”

Discover your Ikigai

Perhaps you think that you don’t have time to discover your own Ikigai because you have to work. Well, people living in Blue Zones work as well and also have to pay their bills. But each day they’re motivated because they are connected with their purpose.

To discover your own Ikigai, find what you’re most passionate about. Then you find the medium through which you can express that passion.

Here’s a simple exercise:

The thing is that you need is to make some time for this. I am sure it will be of benefit to you:

To find the balance between the practical and the spiritual draw 4 connecting circles on a piece of paper. Write down in each circle the following titles:

‘What I love to do’ (your mission);

‘What I’m good at’ (your passions);

‘What I can get paid for’ (your profession);

‘What does the world need’(your vocation).

Zilvold Coaching & Training BLOG Ikigai
What is your Ikigai? Adapted from Bodetree & het NLP college

Next, write down in each circle different activities corresponding with the titles. Activities that are in line with your personal values.  (If you do not know what your values are, think about what irritates you. In my case it is if people do not keep their promise. So one of my values is to do what I’ve promised.)
You can also ask others for helping you to find out what you’re good at or what the world needs. Your Ikigai has impact. So ask yourself: “Where is impact most needed and where can I have impact?”.

Finally, try to find the intersection of the four circles. That is whatever is overlapping in the circles of what you’re good at, what you love to do, what you can be paid for and what the world needs. You can find more than one Ikigai. For Ikigai nothing is separated. Everything is connected.


Then, take action! Put your piece of paper away and go do it! Ikigai is about finding fulfillment, wellness, joy, happiness and balance in the daily routine of life.


Perhaps you’ve noticed that your Ikigai is very similar your WHY. Your WHY is your purpose, who you are, your cause, what you stand for or your belief. It is why you do things. Your WHY consist of a contribution and an impact thereof. For more information on how to find your WHY, read the following article.

Are you looking for your own Ikigai, your WHY? I can help you!  Read here for more info or contact me today!

What is your IKIGAI? Let me know in the comment field below. I and the other readers of this article are looking forward to reading from you!

Thank you for reading up to here & sharing this article with your colleagues, friends or family. And please SHARE this article with your network on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google + by pressing the buttons below so that they can also benefit from this article on how you can find your Ikigai.

Have you seen an error in this article? Let me know! I am grateful!

-Chris Mayers on Bodetree;
-Het NLP college.

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