Psychology

5 Questions That Turned Me Into A Ninja (Literally!)

The 30 Year Old Ninja Izzy Arkin
Written by Izzy Arkin

My Mind Exploded

November 2009

Dang! There it was again.

For the previous 3 months I had been beaten, bruised, and harrassed by the same question:

What do you want to do with your life?

I had spent the previous 3 years of my life teaching in the inner city of Los Angeles. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew it wasn’t this.

I was depressed, unhappy, and overwhelmed.

It’s a tough question to sit with when you need an answer.

What do you want to do with your life?

I’d soon figure it out… The only problem – according to everyone else, what I wanted to do was impossible…

Why Can’t I Be Normal?

Every day I struggled. I wanted to change my life but I didn’t know how. I knew I was unhappy, but didn’t know how to find happiness.

I had done everything I was told to do. I graduated from college got a secure job, got a masters degree, getting ready to run my own school.

Yet, I hated everything about my life.

I just wanted to be normal.

Do you ever wonder…

Why can’t I just be happy with this life?

I did. For a long time. But then something happened. Something changed.

I stopped just asking the questions – I started to answer them.

The Answer

January 2010

The 30 Year Old Ninja Izzy Arkin

I took a deep breath. Over the previous 2 months I had read book after book, had numerous conversations, and the answer was now more apparent than ever.

I decided what I would do with my life

I would become a ninja.

Are you smiling? Giggling a little?

There is something that makes “my want” different.

I don’t simply want it. I’m doing it.

I quit my job. I moved to Japan. I am pursuing my childhood dream: to become a ninja.

What is a Ninja?

This is getting strange isn’t it.

Allow me to clarify.

Remember, this is a childhood dream, so it is only fitting that I use my 8 year old brain as a reference.

According to my 8 year old brain a ninja:

1. Moves to a far away land
2. Trains extensively in martial arts
3. Challenges the traditional rules of work and life.

So, I quit my job, I moved to Japan and I train in martial arts extensively.

I work just enough to cover my expenses. The remainder of my time is focused on improving my skill in martial arts. I am challenging the traditional model of work and life as we know it.

We Have To Answer The Question

What changed for me? What allowed me to go from a depressed teacher to pursuing some crazy dream?

It is simple. I began to take action to answer these questions that overwhelmed my thoughts.

I’m sharing my story with 1 hope: I want you to to take action to turn your dreams into a reality.

5 Questions That Led to The Pursuit of A Childhood Dream.

One of the most powerful things I did was I began to ask and answer specific questions. These answers have forever changed my life. Below are these questions and how I went about answering them.

1. What do I want to do with my life?

Many people battle with this, but they don’t take the time to actually answer it. There are specific actions I took to answer this question.

Here are 5 specific things I did (and you can do) to answer this question:

  • Read non fiction books that specifically discuss finding your passion
  • Volunteer in your community. This will expose you to new things and new people.
  • Start participating in a new hobby.
  • Start exercising on a regular basis. This puts you in a positive frame of mind and builds confidence. If you are positive and more confident you are more likely to discover things you enjoy which leads to discovering what you want to do with your life.
  • Find a trustworthy friend or family member and discuss with them the potential direction for your life.
  • Complete personality tests (such as the

2. What is a Ninja? or What does my dream mean?

As soon as I realized I wanted to be a ninja I defined my dream. I broke it down to 3 very specific measurable steps.
1. Move to a foreign country
2. Train in martial arts 5 days a week
3. Challenge the traditional rules of life and work.

It is important that you create a crystal clear vision for your dream. To figure this out you have to identify the specific things that attract you to your dream. Why are you drawn to it? What does it encompass?

For me, I sat with my dream for a few weeks. I thought about it everyday. I constantly asked myself “What is a ninja?” In time it became more and more clear.

Once you have a crystal clear vision for your dream you can move on to the next question.

3. How can I become a ninja? or How can I follow my dream?

Once I defined my dream I broke it down to steps. I started asking “how can I move to a foreign country?” I researchedÊinternationalÊcareer opportunities. I researched good locations to train in martial arts.

I read books by people who had followed their dreams. I studied how people had made their dreams a reality.

I created a step by step plan to make this dream real. Then I followed it.

4. How can I make money?

This is a huge question that has to be addressed. I identified different countries I might want to live in. Then I figured out ways to make money in each of these countries. I realized that teaching English was my ticket. So I started looking into these opportunities. Soon enough I had found a company that worked with my needs.

I applied and was accepted.

I did one other thing which has given me immense power. As soon as I realized I wanted to become a ninja, I started to save money.

Every month, I put money away. This was Êa huge deal because it gave me the peace of mind that I would be able to deal with any financial issues that might come up.

I saved up about 6 months of expense. Though, for some people 3 months is perfect.

5. What step can I take today?

This is the most powerful step of all. If you can figure out this answer then you can begin moving towards your dreams today.

For me, it was simple – I saved money everyday, I sent in applications to jobs overseas, and I reached out to fellow martial artists who had lived over seas (I was given this contact information by friends).

One Final Note

Questions can be crazy powerful, but only if we dare to take the time to answer them.

My hope is that today you not only dare to ask the crazy questions but you also begin to answer them.

In the comments below please share a question that you think can change your life if you dare to answer it.

About the author

Izzy Arkin

Izzy is living, breathing proof you can pursue your dream, no matter how crazy it is. Izzy's a former teacher who lives in Japan. He's pursuing his childhood dream: to become a ninja. Read more of his story at his blog, where you can discover how to discover and live your dream.