Healthy Habits

Plan De Vida

Content provided by the Health & Wellness Team at GBS Benefits

The Nicoya Peninsula is in the north-western part of Costa Rica and is surrounded by beautiful beaches. The interior contains a vast, hilly landscape – perfect for grazing cattle and local cowboys, like Jose Bonafacio Villegas. Jose is nearly 103 years old and is passionate about riding horses, doing so almost every day for the past 100 years.

Find a Sense of Purpose

This mindset is popular among the Nicoya people and is often referred to as Plan De Vida or life plan. This way of life has embedded itself into the citizens of Nicoya and contributes to the positive outlook many maintain. Their goals often circulate around simple tasks like going for a walk to visit family, taking care of their crops, or, in Villegas’s case, riding a horse. No matter the goal, the key is to find a sense of purpose.

Ramiro Guadamuz, who is nearing 100 years old, agrees that he is motivated by a sense of faith and duty to teach his great grandchildren how to work on his farm. He believes the goal isn’t to reach a certain age, but to find ways to enjoy tomorrow.

Research suggests that having a life purpose can lead to an additional seven years of life. The concept behind Plan De Vida is the idea of “why I wake up in the morning.” This thought drives a positive outlook among elders and helps keep them active. Establishing a sense of purpose leads to feeling connected to others and reduces the risk of isolation and loneliness. It also reduces the risk of stroke, heart attack, dementia, and disabilities.

Define Your Plan De Vida

How do you determine your Plan De Vida? It may be helpful to separate work from home life. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate your work-related goals. Can you find a sense of purpose in your position beyond just making money? Do you go to work for your family, your community, a great cause?

Think big picture about how your role influences others positively or the changes you can put in place to make that happen. Get excited about your position again by making a list of things you enjoy about your job and goals for the next year.

Create a healthy work/life balance and find a purpose beyond the daily 9-5 schedule. Follow these tips from the official Blue Zones website to adopt the Plan De Vida attitude.

  • Do an internal inventory. Think about your ideals, principles, standards, and morals. Think of your physical, emotional, and mental talents, strengths, and abilities. Consider writing them down and thinking of ways you can utilize these skills at work or in your community.
  • Put your skills into action. Make plans to act on what you have written. Do one thing daily that centers around your passions.
  • Dedicate a place in your house to display your passions, accomplishments, and the things of which you are proud. Every time you walk by, you’ll be rewarded with a surge of pride and a reminder of how you fit into the world.
  • Find a partner. Find someone you can communicate your life purpose and plans to. Use their feedback as a sound board for your plan of action. Chat with them about their life purpose and find ways to keep each other accountable.


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