How a Middle School Science Teacher Became a Ninja (Plus 8 Actions to Start Living Your Dream) | The BridgeMaker

How a Middle School Science Teacher Became a Ninja

By on Sep 18, 2013

start living your dream

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you imagined. – Henry David Thoreau

I looked at my hands. They were shaking.

I pulled over to the side of the road.

I tried to hold it in. But I couldn’t.

The tears started to fall.

What did I do wrong?

How did I get here?

The Depression

To the outside world, my life looked perfect.

I was in the midst of getting my masters degree in education. I would soon be qualified to run my own school. I was making more money every year. My resume looked fantastic.

I was 26 years old, just starting my fourth year teaching middle school science.

I did everything I was told to do.

I had the “good job” the nice degrees and worked hard.

Everyone was impressed.

But there was a problem…

When I was home alone by myself… I hated how I felt.

Night after night, awake at 2a.m. and unable to fall asleep.

Depression, anxiety, stress, overtook my life.

The pain was too much. I began to question my choices, my plans, my direction.

What do you want to do with your life?

Are Childhood Dreams Possible?

I wrestled with this question for months on end:

What do you want to do with your life?

I talked to friends and family. I read books. I listened to audio programs. I volunteered. I reflected. I went to church.

Friends would ask me:

“Izzy, if you aren’t going to be a teacher, what are you going to do with your life?”

“I’m going to become a ninja.”

It was a funny answer, to such a serious question. We’d both laugh. But there was something neither I nor my friends realized at the time.

I wasn’t joking…

Day after day I continued to wrestle with this question:

What are you doing to do with your life?

I kept on having this crazy idea.

I want to move to far away land and train in martial arts until my body aches… I want to become a ninja.

Eventually I stopped fighting this idea. I just asked the question:

What is a ninja?

As I explored this I discovered it was a childhood dream, my childhood dream. So, I decided to define it based on what my eight-year-old brain would say.

The answer was pretty simple. A ninja does thee things:
1. Moves to a far away land
2. Trains in martial arts all the time
3. Lives life by his own rules

I had one thought as I looked over my definition.

I can do this.

Japan, Ninjas, and a New Life

Fast forward four years later.

I quit my career in education. I made a plan, saved money, and followed through.

I researched and explored potential opportunities. Step by step my dream started to unfold.

In August of 2011, I would get on the on the plane, and leave America, to move to a far away land.

I now live in Kyoto, the historical capital of Japan. I train in a martial art called Aikido. I’m at the dojo a minimum of 6 hours a day Monday to Friday.

I live in a far away land, train in martial arts all the time, and live life by my own rules.

I’m living my childhood dream.

I share my story for one reason. It’s evidence that you can do it.

If a middle school science teacher can quit his job to become a ninja, why can’t you start living your dream?

8 Actions You Can Take to Start Living Your Dream

Below I share with you eight specific actions you can take today to start living your dream.

Action 1: Develop Your Life’s Vision
You can’t follow a dream, if you don’t know what your dream is. The exercise below will help you start to gain clarity.

Take out a pen and paper (or open up a word document).

Imagine five years has passed. An amazing thing has happened over these 5 years. You have achieved all of your dreams.

What is your life like? What time do you wake up? What activities do you do?

How do you spend your day? How much money do you make? How do you make money?

What people are in your life? What people are no longer in your life? How do you feel?

Action 2: Start Saving Money
One of the biggest setbacks to start living your dream is financial obligations.

By starting to save money you give yourself the freedom to think about the possibilities of your life. When you save money, it allows your mind to think more creatively.

Start simple. Pull out an envelope. Write on the front of it “My Dream Fund.” Then put $1 in it.

Action 3: Volunteer
You’re probably wondering: What does volunteering have to do with living my dream?

Good question.

Find a community activity or workplace that is related to your dream. Then ask them if you can volunteer.

This allows you to get engaged with that industry or activity but since you are volunteering it won’t feel overwhelming. Also, since you are volunteering you will be able to set your own hours.

Action 4: Identify Your “Most Important Action”
We do hundreds of things each day. It’s easy to get caught up in the rapid speed of life. Even so much that we forget what is actually important to us.

Give yourself sometime to think about the following question:

What one thing if accomplished would have the greatest positive impact on your life?

Identify your answer to this question, then immediately take action to start making it happen.

Action 5: Trust Your Gut Instinct
Deep in your gut you know what you want to do. You just feel it inside of you. Stop fighting this feeling.

Screw logic. Accept that your gut might in fact be right.. Then take action based on what your “gut instinct” says you should be doing.

Action 6: Plan Out Your Week
You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy. Planning out your week will allow you to make time to take action on your dream.

Sit down on a Sunday and write out everything you would like to accomplish over the course of the week. Make sure to include in this list “Dream Actions.” These are specific actions that you will take to move you closer to your dream.

They don’t have to be huge massive actions. They can be simple. Put them into your plan then make it happen.

Action 7: Do That Which You Fear
What is that one thing you have always wanted to but are scared out of your mind to do?

Got it? Great! Now go do it.

Fear is an indicator that something truly matters deep in our hearts.

Fear is not to be run from. Embrace your fears. Use them to guide your actions.

Action 8: Take Action Now
Above all else, take action now! This world rewards results.

You will never accomplish your dream sitting at home perusing Facebook. Rather, you must get busy and start doing the dirty work. Plain and simple

Please share in Comments below which of the 8 actions will you apply to your life? Reading by email? Click through to the site to share.

Izzy quit his job in education to follow his childhood dream: to become a ninja. Subscribe to his blog to learn the mindset, actions and principles to turn your dream into a reality. You can also like his Facebook page to get daily Inspiration.

  • Hey Izzy,

    Great solid and simple steps. Number 1 really is the key though. Too many of us don’t identify this. Why? I think out of fear. It is a scary thing to stand in front of the world and say, “This is me. This is what I want to do!” Once that step has been taken it means we have to take responsibility for it. So kudos to you on your journey.

    • What’s up Keith :).

      You bring up a great point man. Yes, I agree number 1 is critical. But I have to throw you a thought/challenge question. Do you think it always has to do with fear? Do you think there are cases when people might just not realize that part of taking action is discovering what they want?

      I just look at my journey and think back 4 years ago. If someone had said to me – what do you want to do? I would have said “I don’t know…” But I didn’t know there were practical ways to discover it. So in my case it was a lack of knowledge, not necessarily a lack of fear. Once I got the knowledge I was able to take the steps.

      :). Thoughts?

  • Good tips as always Izzy. I think there are probably some people who think you’re crazy to have done what you did. These people will probably not say anything to you or insult you in your physical vicinity, out of fear for their lives. You’re a ninja, they’re not. lol

    Since you’re the only ninja I know, I don’t think this dream is that crazy. What’s crazy is people not following their dreams. The question is usually how do I start ? You outline 8 tips here that are practical, especially in regards to planning, preparation and taking action. The initial steps also requires belief – belief in yourself to achieve your wildest dreams.

    If you did what you did, any of us can as well.

    • What’s up V!

      Hahahaha! Yes, that’s right! I’m a ninja and people don’t say things to me out of fear for their lives… If only it were true V (in both cases – me being a fully fledged ninja and people fearing for their lives). Though, maybe that is one of those things that sounds cooler than it actually is.

      Oh man, you bring up a great point (as always!). I think there is something very deep about the power of belief. The question that I am always pondering is: What develops belief?

      I think it varies from person to person. Sometimes it’s knowledge, sometimes it’s examples, sometimes it’s an inner conviction that I can’t yet put into words.

  • Hi Izzy! All solid classic tips that work for all life situations. 🙂 I am always happy to see how the basic things hold good. Thank you. Again, Alex, a great start to my day. Nothing like reading a positively inspiring post to boost my spirits.

    • Hi Vidya :).

      I’m so happy to hear that this gave a positive start to your day. I hope that it ignites you to take action on your dreams!


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