• Menu
  • Menu

The Ikigai Project

I’ve delayed this post for some time now. Though the idea has brewed in my head for well over six months, I allowed it to ferment, purely out of fear. I recently declared that I would no longer continue to base my decisions out of fear, and so, I present to you the Ikigai Project.

Before diving into the details the project, it requires a bit of an introduction first.

When Dave and I began talking about the reasons behind leaving our house, pets, and possessions in exchange for the freedom of life on two wheels, I thought a lot about purpose. I’ve thought a lot about purpose for much of my adult life, but either convinced myself of the impossibility of the goal, or stuck with the comfortable enough-ness of the life I had.

In grad school, I worked on a project centered around play.Our group agreed that adults do not play nearly enough. We’re stuck behind desks in offices, come home grumpy, and then veg out on the couch to relax, only to repeat the process day after day. We should be playing more. We should be enjoying life.

A few years ago when I read a statistic indicating that Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. I was horrified. As a regular runner, bike commuter, and outdoor seeker on the weekend, I was certain I allowed myself ample play time, that my indoor hours came nowhere close to that figure. After calculating my statistics, I found that I still spent around 80 percent of my own time indoors. Inside, stuck behind that desk at a job that drained the essence from my being. This was not the way I wanted to spend my time.

As I pondered the reasons behind our decision to commit to our trip, I started to consider the activities that brought me joy and energy.


I thought about the bloggers I follow who are living within their passion. I can do this, I thought. I don’t have to follow society’s rules and live in an office until I’m 65 and retire. And so, I consulted the Google and came across a TED Talk by Dan Buettner titled How to Live to be 100+. He mentioned a Japanese word that stuck with me: Ikigai.

In the Okinawan language, the word retirement does not exist. Rather, they use Ikigai to describe their life’s purpose. Roughly translated, it means “the reason for which you wake up in the morning.”

The ingredients to finding Ikigai
Your Ikigai lies within the center of the interconnecting circles. If one aspect is missing, then your Ikigai is off-balance. Image courtesy of Marc Winn


I considered why I get up in the morning. My annoying iPhone tone alerting me that it was time to wake up and go to work, was unacceptable to me. I realized, with sadness that I had no Ikigai. Since learning this new word, I vowed to find and live by my Ikigai.

I know many others who have found their Ikigai and I will be sharing their stories on this blog. My goal is to supply you with a healthy dose of inspiration from people all over the world who choose to live by their Ikigai, so that you can gather the tools and courage to find your own.

Have you found your Ikigai? Tell me in the comments below how you live within your purpose and passion.


Jen Sotolongo

Hello! I'm Jen. I'm a writer, photographer, dog mom, and outdoor enthusiast. When I'm not writing about awesome ways to get outside with your dog, I'm probably out for a long trail run. I also fancy myself a pretty decent vegan cook, and am always happy to whip up a batch of cookies for friends. My husband and I travel the world with our dogs, most famously taking on a 2-year bicycle trip across Europe and South America. I currently live in Spain with my husband and our two dogs, but the Pacific Northwest will always be my love.

View stories

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


52 Week Adventure Checklist

Download our free...



This checklist includes a new fun outdoor challenge for each week of the year and includes activities like:


  • running
  • hiking
  • biking
  • winter sports
  • backpacking
  • and much, much more

You have successfully subscribed. The download link will be included in your welcome email.