How I Quit My Job, Moved to a Foreign Country, and Became a Ninja

how i became a ninja

Hi there.

My name is Izzy. It’s nice to meet you.

Sometimes people say strange things, odd things, things that make you do a double take.

Do you ever think about quitting your job, moving to a far away land, and pursuing some crazy dream?

Me too, a few times.

Sorry, I’m being melodramatic. Let me rephrase that.

It crossed my mind about a thousand times. Notice the past tense.

So I did it.

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

Today I want to share my story in hopes of inspiring and encouraging you to follow your dreams.

December 2009

I had been battling with anxiety, depression, and burnout since the beginning of the school year. The question loomed on my mind everyday.

What am I going to do?

I had been teaching in the inner city of Los Angeles for the previous 4 years. For the first 3 years I had enjoyed it, even loved it.

But many things had changed. The work had changed, I had changed, my life had changed.

I was in the middle of getting my masters degree in education. I thought I wanted to run my own school.

I was wrong.

It was a $20,000 mistake.

Some lessons come harder than others… Some with lots of zero’s attached to them.

How could I leave teaching? I had 2 degrees in the field of education, built up my resume, had a plethora of experience, and was moving up the ladder fast. I could be running my own school in 3 years.

And yet I hated it.

What do you do when you hate your life, yet you have worked so hard to get to where you are?

Do you know what it feels like to wake up at 2am and you can’t fall back asleep because of massive anxiety… for an entire year?

365 days, every day, never making it to my alarm clock. Every night, lying in the dark, fearing the events of the upcoming day.

Allow me to get off topic for a moment.

Have you ever heard the story of the whimpering dog?

A man comes over to his neighbor’s house and notices a dog whimpering:

“Hey Bill, why is your dog whimpering?”
“Well he’s sitting on a nail.”

“Why doesn’t he just move?”
“Because I guess it doesn’t hurt enough yet.”

I was driving and all the emotion swelled up. Mid day, in the massive metropolis we call Los Angeles, I pulled over to the side of the road.

I stared at the steering wheel. I broke down. I cried.

What did I do wrong? I had the degrees, the good job, was moving up the ladder. I did everything they said…

And I hate my life.

It was at this point that the pain of the nail was so strong – I was forced to move.

That day was one of the hardest in my life, but also one of the greatest.

It was the moment I realized:

If my life was going to change, I had to change it.

The Change and A Pursuit of a Dream

At first it started as a harmless joke.

“So you’re gonna leave teaching, what will you do instead?”

“I want to be a ninja.”

We would both laugh as I evaded the question. But there was something about this dialogue that I nor my friends initially understood.

It wasn’t a joke.

The Re-birth of a Childhood Dream

Is this starting to sound strange?

A near 30 year old dude, is talking about leaving his teaching career behind to become a ninja.

Strange or not. It’s the truth. Let’s continue.

Initially, I didn’t tell anyone that I was serious, but I knew it. I started to ask an important question:

What is a ninja?

Do you see what was happening? The dream was evolving. I stopped caring if it sounded crazy. I started caring about the answer.

What is a ninja?

I didn’t want to be the ninja from the movies, the historical textbooks, or the comic strips. I wanted to be the ninja from my childhood.

I wanted to follow my childhood dream.

According to my 8 year old brain a ninja does the following 3 things:
1. Moves to a far away land.
2. Becomes an expert in martial arts.
3. Lives life by his own set of rules.

Sounds good in theory. But words are just words.

Present Day 2012

It is 10am on a Saturday. As I write this, my body aches all over. That is what happens when I attend 6 Aikido classes in 3 days.

I now live in Kyoto, the historical capital of Japan. I came here 1 year ago to pursue this dream.

My life is simple, yet beautiful: I live 10 minutes away from breathtaking temples. I study Japanese, train in martial arts, and work just enough to cover my expenses.

I couldn’t be more excited about my life. Everyday is a quest to improve, to become better.

I share my story in hopes of one thing: I want you to realize it is possible to follow your dreams.

Below I am going to share the 4 specific steps I took that allowed me to begin the pursuit of this dream. My hope is that today you change your life.

How I followed my Dream (and you can too)

It is easy to glorify my story. But this does an incredible injustice.

It was not easy, and is not easy. It has taken me 3 years to get where I am now.

Was it worth it?

You tell me. I wake up everyday excited. I get to follow my passion. I train in martial arts until my body aches. I learn new things everyday, live in a new culture, and most importantly feel at peace.

Does that sound like it was worth it?

I want to share with you 4 specific steps I did to make this dream real.

Step 1: Commit to Discovering the Dream

As soon as I realized that I needed to make a change I made a comittment to myself. I would figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

How often do you hear this:

What should I do with my life?

People say it all the time. But that’s the problem. All they do is say it.

We have to take action to discover the answer. Being aware that we don’t know how to do a math problem isn’t enough – we have to actively seek the answer.

I took personality tests, did community service, enrolled in salsa dancing, tried to learn a new language, took up martial arts, joined political organizations, and read book after book.

Everyday I took action to discover what I wanted to do with my life. Eventually clarity started to come.

I started to see opportunities.

It’s a powerful question:

What do I want to do with my life?

But it’s only powerful if you take the steps to answer it.

What will you do today to figure out your life?

Step 2: Define the Dream

After I realized that “I wanted to be a ninja”. I defined the dream. I made it crystal clear.

A ninja:

1. Moves to a far away land
2. Trains extensively in martial arts
3. Lives life by his own set of rules.

This provided clarity. Those 3 things, became my driving force.

I would look at those and think: “how can I make this happen?”

Do you have a clear vision for your dream?

Step 3: Save up Money

This is a step that so many people don’t want to talk about yet it’s so important.

Here is the thing, following a dream takes creativity and the ability to handle risks. It’s hard enough without worrying about money. By taking the time to save money I freed up my mental resources to focus on the right things.

I ran a budget and was extremely particular about how I used my money.

If you struggle to run a budget here is a link to one my most popular posts that shows how I do this (and has a free downloadable budget).

Yeah, I lived tight. If you want to follow a dream you have to make sacrifices.

You can’t buy a $6 latte and at the same time claim “I’ll do whatever it takes!”. It doesn’t add up.

Are you taking financial steps to give you the opportunity to pursue your dreams?

Step 4: Create a Plan and Follow Through

I love making a solid plan. The importance isn’t in the plan itself, it is the peace of mind that comes with it.

By making a plan, it allowed me to take action.

It’s not rocket science. I simply answered the following 2 questions:

1. Where do I want to go?
2. How will I get there?

Then without anymore thinking, I followed through.

The most important part of the plan is execution – not the plan itself.

What step can you take today to begin the pursuit of your dream?

A Final Word

I share this because I want you to go out and make your life awesome. I want you to realize it is possible.

I am not special, gifted, nor super smart. I just want to be a ninja.

I’ll end this with a question:

If I can quit my job, move to Japan, to become a ninja…. Why can’t you follow your dream?

Photo by R’eyes

67 thoughts on “How I Quit My Job, Moved to a Foreign Country, and Became a Ninja”

    1. Hi Dan.

      I don’t know if it is a bad thing that we must become miserable to make a change. I say this because now I look at that experience as wonderful. Without it I never would have had the strength or conviction to move forward with my dream.

      I think there is often a misperception of negative experiences. In my life many of the experiences that have given me the greatest teachings are those experiences which sent me down a very tough road.

    2. James Devine Junior

      Hi Izzy,

      Your blog comments hit a nerve with me that sent tingles through my spine. I am 57 years old and for almost a life time I have craved to do almost exactly what you have done. My dream was to move to Japan and become a samurai.

      My father had been stationed in Japan at the close of the second world war. He was in the Royal Engineers regiment. He told me stories of how beautiful the country was and what hit my heart, how passionate, humble and wonderful the people were. Now i find my self in Nigeria marketing software and running an NGO. Yet my heart yearns for happiness, to fill a whole in my life.

      I loved the quote about the whimpering dog. I have sat on that nail for over 40 years. It seems welded to my body :-) please my name is not rover its James is it realistic for a man of my age to do as you have done??

      I look forward to hearing from you, take care God Bless.

      1. James I can confidently say to you “Yes! It is possible!” .

        Let me share a story with you. My father is 67 years old. Three years ago He was overweight just had hip surgery was fatigued, aging, and very overweight. He went to the doctor and discovered he would need to have triple bypass heart surgery.

        After this hip surgery my father could no longer run. It was too dangerous. We all had begun to accept “He’s just getting older”… But one person didn’t accept it – My father!

        After he had the triple bypass surgery it changed him.

        He started by walking each day. At first it was difficult and painful. He would come home from work super exhausted and go out and walk for 15 minutes. But over time it started to grow. Fifteen minutes turned to 20 and 20 to 25.

        He started to lose weight. He started to get stronger.

        Now my father is a completely different man. I talk to him on the phone and he has energy up the wazoo. He has lost over 100 pounds in the last 2 years. He walks for up to 90 minutes a day at a crazy pace. He does some work at the local high-school and do you know what he loves to do- He loves to challenge the top athletes to “Walking competitions.” They go for 3 miles and only walking is allowed. He is undefeated. Now no one will race him because he always destroys them. HE IS 67 YEARS OLD!

        On top of this he is mor excited about his life then ever. My father tells me about his dreams when we talk. He has multiple entrepreneurial ventures he is starting.

        I use this story to show what can happen when a person starts to believe. I have asked my father “So what changed? How did you do all of this?” His answer kind of scares me but is powerful. He looked me dead in the eye and said “I’m not ready to die.” It was as simple as that.

        Trust me it is possible. It starts with belief and is followed by action.

  1. Where do you get the money to quit your job, fly to Japan, live there, and take classes??? If you have the financial freedom you can do anything.

    1. Hello Mara.

      As Peter mentioned I saved up money. But I want to be clear with you – I’m not rich by ANY definition. I still work part time to cover my expenses. Please do not buy into the lie that “money solves all”.

      Yes, money is important and it is necessary when moving forward with a dream but it will not solve everything. Just because one is rich doesn’t automatically give them the courage or commitment to follow a dream.

      Once you got a little bit of money in the bank it is more about a particular psychology combined with action and perseverance – not a number in your bank account.

    2. You should read the whole story he explained that having a dream sometimes requires saving up money which means you have to be serious about your dream in order to make it happen . If you have a dream and are serious about it then you will have the strenght to do whats necessary to make that happen .

  2. Hi, Izzy!

    Your post has really touched me because I’m going to do the similar crazy thing in 2 weeks. Although, I don’t plan to become a ninja :-), still I’m going to another country to take internship in rather different field than I work in now. This country is China. I actually thought of Japan too, but I just can’t afford it even being very tight. I’m sure, China is a great place to start a new chapter in life either.

    Although I’m going there for 2 months only, nevertheless I don’t predict how it will turn out: maybe I’ll return home, maybe I will be offered a job and stay there longer.

    Even if this my attempt to change the life will fail, I’ll just come up with another crazy idea! It’s easy! :-)

    That’s great that I’ve stumpled upon this post and your blog, as I’ll need an advice on “How To Make Friends In A Foreign Country” very soon, I guess :-)

    1. Alex
      Check out – it is a resource for expats. Depending if you are in a 1st or 2nd tier city it will be pretty easy to meet other expats and develop a social life. If you are in a 3rd tier city, I would recommend learning Mandarin so you can have some sort of interaction. Although, most likely there should be some English teachers where ever you go unless you choose a remote village.

        1. Alex – let me know if you need to use a reference to join and I will send you my contact info. BTW – I moved to Hong Kong from Los Angeles so I have experienced a lot of the ups and downs of living in Asia. Overall its a fantastic place – you just have to keep an open mind if you get frustrated or home sick as the upside of living in Asia far out ways the inconveniences. Again if you move to a major city you will not have any problem finding people to connect with as well as jobs. I always recommend anyone who wants to start a life in Asia to just come here – there are numerous job opportunities but you need to have the personality to go out and find them. NET (native english teachers) are in huge demand and the only requirement is to be a native speaker and a good attitude. Being a NET is a great way to provide funds while you look for other opportunities.

          1. LJ, thanks for your help and advice! I’m going to Beijing. Perhaps, I’ll visit Hong Kong for a couple of days too, in December. Not sure yet.

            Unfortunately, I’m not a native English speaker – I’m Russian actually. But I guess, I can still teach people Russian. As Russia and China have an adjacent border, I think, Russian is in demand too. Anyway, I’ll check it out pretty soon. :-)

    2. Alex this is awesome :). It all starts by taking action. If you want to do big things you got to make big moves. Moving to China (it doesn’t matter how long) is a big move – who knows where it will take you.

      I’m glad you found the post on making friends in a foreign country helpful.

  3. Princess from Indo

    Izzy !

    When I started reading this blog post…and you mentioned your name, I was thinking of you as a girl.
    So I was imagining a girl experiencing all the things you did. :D
    I don’t know commenting that was necessary or not.

    “I totally loved all that you said here.
    My dream is kind of similar to yours and You “Inspire me”.
    The way you express with so much clarity and make things sound so Simple. I have become a fan of your style of writing.”

    And also while I was reading. By the end I started having a doubt whether you are that American 6.3 ft tall teacher who left Michigan for living in Japan. Maybe or Maybe not !!!
    but You are a NINJA : how will I know ? who you really are ?

    and also very important :
    ***THANK YOU so much (I really mean it)***
    for writing this post…

    1. Haha :). This makes me smile Princess From Indo.

      No I am not a female but this isn’t the first time that someone thought I was a girl based on my name.

      Unfortunately against all my wishes I am not 6 foot 3. I am from California and about 5 foot 9 inches. If you head to my site ( you cannot get to know me a lot more :). I share my stories and experiences in hopes of helping others pursue their dreams.

      But even if I was a 6 foot 3 American who came from Michigan should that matter?

      1. Princess from Indo

        No it doesn’t matter…
        your height or where you come from ! none of it matters…
        I read your blog I have subscribed to it…
        And I have a feeling you and me have some thing in common.
        Looking at you, there’s a lot I am getting to learn.

        I look at you as a Mentor
        and Thank you so much for all the posts you write :)

  4. Really great post. There’s a lot in there that’s really useful. I like the idea of connecting to something in your past. Often with all the “good” advice we get we can bury what is really essential about ourselves. Congratulations on finding clarity and taking action.

    1. Thanks Peter :).

      I think that there is so much power in looking at what we loved to do as children. In many ways these are our unfiltered passions. Yes, as adults we have to adjust and modify them to a degree – but there are ways to make it happen if someone is willing to really commit and focus.

  5. Great adventure, Izzy! I love seeing people follow the fork in the road — even bulldoze the right fork — to where they want to live, both in body and mind. I’ve run down a few unconventional forks in my life’s road, and I never regretted a single one. In the end, who doesn’t love an adventure?

    1. Yo Dr. Mike :). I’m loving the attitude. I 100 zillion percent agree.

      Our lives can be an adventure if we take the steps to make it happen.

      Thanks for commenting.

  6. This is an incredibly inspirational post!

    I’ve recently moved to a different part of my state and I am just starting to understand myself at age 47. This move was traumatic for me (not into big changes) but I have now opened myself up to exciting possibilities. I’ve just gotten a job as a photographer and I feel inspired by my new surroundings. These things have sort of happened for me but I am in awe that you changed your life so drastically.

    Congrats Izzy for making your dream come true!

    1. Hello Sherri :).

      I have to throw this out there – the fact that you did it when it scares you so much is why your choice is so powerful. You should feel darn good about that.

      The word “courage” has come up in a few of the comments. Well, your choice to move to a new area (when change is very uncomfortable to you) makes your decision courageous. I hope you embrace that. Courageous people do courageous things… If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and acts like a duck it’s probably a… (in other words if your making courageous choices that means you are courageous).

  7. ShekhaR Kulkarni - SRK

    Dear Lzzy,

    First, I should mentioned that, still I have not read your article, but my reading habit of ‘Change Blog’ is quite different, first I read the feedbacks then article.

    I am also doing practice of ‘Goju-Ryu’ Martial Arts. Being as a Martial Arts Student, your article will definitely will inspire.

    Will reply to you very soon with my practical experience.

    SRK – India

    1. Hello Shekha :). I currently study Aikido but in time want to expand to other arts as well.

      I love martial arts SO much! I feel like the lessons of martial arts are so powerful and deep. It seems as if after every training session I am learning concepts that not only improve my form but also improve my ability to handle life :).

      I am excited to hear what you think about the article.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  8. Thank you for sharing!!

    Within the last year and half, my family of three recently sold everything we owned and moved to a remote island in the Bering Sea. We had been “stuck” for some time, and finally realized it was in our power to do something about it…that there was more to life! Some people thought we were mad, but we had done the soul searching AND the risk calculations. It was the right move for us. Best move ever!

    Congrats!! Keep on living… :)

    1. Hi M.E.L.,

      Thank you for this post! I was reading this article and thinking about how inspirational Izzy is for stepping up and following his dream! My husband and I have been talking about selling everything and moving to another country. But then we start thinking, we can’t just pick up the kids and move like that. Maybe when we were younger…Hearing that you and your family did it just truly inspires me! I hope one day I am as brave as you guys!

  9. Hi M.E.L

    I love your point about “Risk Calculations”. The best part about it is that you took action and made it happen. I think that many people do a risk analysis but then decide it is just too scary to take that big step. The problem is that many people never consider the risk of regret. When I began to weigh my decision to make this change in my life the big concept that over took me was “I will always wonder what could have been if I don’t try… At least if I fail I will know.”

    But now failure is not an option. I’m all in :).

    Your story is super awesome! I love hearing about people taking action. And your also killing the “I’m married with a family” excuse – that is inspiring.

  10. its light and funny at first glance but as I read through your article, the essence of strong determination and being not afraid of taking changes in life, wow! it is very clever, the way you plot it, you nailed it down…. keep up!

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words Catherine.

      I will be the first to admit – the whole thing is darn funny! Here I am about to turn 30 years old and I can’t get over this idea of “being a ninja”.

      I say it with a smile upon my face – but also as you have picked up, with much determination.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  11. i remember reading your story somewhere before (probably on your blog) and i’ll read it over and over and over again. never gets old.

    you have a great story, Izzy

  12. Izzy,

    I just wanted to let you know that you are one incredible individual! You have very much inspired me and I wanted to say thank you for sharing your words of wisdom as well as your passion to change your life to something that you always dreamed of. I admire the fact that you were willing to share such an incredible story with the world and cannot wait to share my story with you. Thanks again and I wish you all of the best in the future!


    1. Chris thank you very much for your kind words.

      Really though – I’m just a dude with a dream who has chosen to follow it. I am evidence that you can you do it too which it sounds like you understand :).

      I’d love to hear about your dream: you can share it here or head on over to my blog and share it there. Whichever you feel most comfortable with works great.

  13. Izzy, found you in a round about way. I am trying to define my dream, want to walk some cobblestones before I can’t any more. As a speaker, I get share stories with my audiences. One of the things I ask older audiences is this” If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you be? What is the first number that comes to mind?” The numbers range from 40 to 2 (This from an audience member of 80 – cause 2 gives you permission to take a nap anytime. My point is one that comes more from your Dad’s experience. My age is 35, which freaks my kids who are 36 and 40. So cobblestones here I come, not sure where.

    1. Hahaha :). That is awesome Pat. Age in an attitude. I know people in their late 20’s but act like they are 55 jaded and see no potential future. Then I also know people in their 50’s who have energy up the wazoo :).

      I don’t know how old I would be – maybe like 35 :). Which is kind of funny because I know following a childhood dream would make it seem like I’m younger but I see 30’s as an incredibly exciting age. I think a lot of 20’s is spent just trying to figure out this whole “working thing”. It also is characterized by some struggles. I feel like the 30’s are a smoother time in one’s life (if they make the right choices). I feel at ease with my decisions but it’s taken a while to get here – hence the 35 :).

  14. I want to thankyou Izzy for your story . I really enjoyed reading it and look forward to sharing it with friends and family , It truly is inspirational . I think it made me realize that change is quite possibly the answer im looking for . I havnt actually had a dream in a long time and this has inspired me to really look in my soul . Im 28 years old and i think it really comes down to the fact that i need some adventure i need something that makes me excited again . I really have a good life but i think it needs some sparkle . You are a person just like everyone else and you made things happen and you persued a dream and followed it and turned your dreams into your reality and that is such powerful . I want to thankyou for sharing your story . You are an inspiration !!!!!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Caitlin. What you said is exactly true. I am a normal person who has taken action to make this happen. The reason I share my story is because I want to prove to others that it is possible to pursue some crazy dream if you are committed, persistent and patient.

      If you are willing to take the steps you can do it too Caitlin. I believe that with all my heart!

  15. Dear Izzy ,
    When I started to read your post I saw my life. As you , I have been working at a school for 11 years and now I want quit my job and run my own school , I’ve been working so hard and the daily stress is killing me. I develop high blood pressure.
    And now , I just want run away ! But start over is always a risk and I don’t 30 yrs anymore.Anyway , I believe I am not alone .
    Thanks for share your story !
    All the best,

    1. Patricia I empathize with you.

      I promise you this – age is irrelevant. If you want to make a change you can do it. If you aren’t sure what you want to do – then there is no better day than today to start actively seeking it out.

      Even if it takes you 3 years to make it happen (as it’s taken me) it doesn’t matter because no matter what 3 years are going to pass.

      Head on over to my site I talk a lot more about how I have made the shift to following a dream and a ton of strategies to figure out what to do with our lives.

  16. Izzy I love your post. It describes the whole process of changing your life in such simple terms.

    You know, no one ever seems to mention the importance of saving money. Not just to change your life but as a way of changing your attitude about what is possible for you to accomplish.

    I love the example with the latte. Really, thanks for sharing your story. I enjoyed it.

    1. Super duper awesome Michelle!

      Yeah, money is one of those things that people often want to ignore. Which just blows my mind because it is insanely important. I think a lot of people don’t write about it – because they don’t have a clue how to deal with it :).

      Just my 2 cents (pun intended).

  17. hey Izzy!

    I did a google search on “Is it crazy to quit your job and move to a new country” and your blog showed up. What an inspiring story! I am thinking of moving to Australia, currently residing in Canada where I have lived for 10+ years, moved from Asia. Life is very comfortable here but just becoming too routine, which triggers my craving for a different place. I don’t hate my job, in fact, am hoping to get same type of job in Aus. I am just worried a lot, like what if I can’t find a job I want. What if the new life is disappointing because it may not be as comfortable as my life now. The hassle of selling everything before the big move etc… all those fears cloudy my head and excitement. yeh… i know I am one of the “worry-too-much” type.

    You’re very brave and determined. Have you also worried about all this before you made the decision? How long did it take you to make that decision to go? I’m very happy for you for being happy about your life :) cheers

    1. Hi Liz :).

      Those are some good questions. You know, those types of thoughts definitely crossed my mind but I saw them as part of the journey. Also, I tend to focus on “What is possible?” Rather than “What isn’t possible?” In other words rather than asking myself “What if I don’t get a job?” I ask myself “What if I do get a job?”

      I then became so excited about the potential result that I couldn’t help but move forward with my dream.

      Here is the thing – if you are going to ask those questions than actually answer them. If you merely ask them but then don’t answer them then they just become an easy excuse to not follow your dream. But if you actually answer them then you will realize it’s not so bad after all.

      Worst case scenario is you try, it doesn’t work-out, and your ego gets a little bruise. Then you get off the ground, wipe the dust off your shoulders and continue to move forward – this is how the pursuit of a dream works :). It’s not easy – but it’s not as impossible as so many people like to pretend.

      1. Thanks for the reply Izzy :) I really enjoyed reading it. It’s mind opening. I did get so much more excited when I think positively. I am going to look for “answers” to my “questions” while getting myself ready financially for the change. Hopefully, I can do it!! :D

  18. This entry is so inspiring. I’m actually doing #3, I’m saving up for the future. I want to move to London someday, I’m still not sure though how this is going to be possible. But I’m really determined to make all of my dreams come true.

    I’ve been kinda sad lately because I have two friends on facebook who are currently residing in London. And I can’t help but feel sad because I just want to be there so bad. I actually want to be a tv presenter someday, but currently I’m in the retail industry. Right now I just want to save up for my dream.

    1. Hello fluffernutter (nice name!).

      Here is thing: you are taking action even though you aren’t exactly sure what the next steps are. That is so freaking powerful. Because then when the right time comes you will be in an excellent position to take a big step.

      Something that might be very powerful is if you set a date for when you will make the big move. That can accelerate your savings and momentum.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  19. Hello Izzy! Osu!

    I just started martial arts here in Philadelphia and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done to change who I am in every way. I’d never been able to commit to anything (people or activity-wise) before, but training is the most emotionally challenging, physically rewarding and spiritually uplifting thing I’ve ever had the great fortune to participate in.

    I love Aikido too! I also love White Crane (it makes me swoon, literally haha), Monkey (it’s so fun how you actually look and act like a monkey to fake out your opponent!), Kendo and Iaido (just learning how to handle and honor a sword makes you feel like a stronger person), Sumo (the warm-up makes your legs tingle!), Karate (tension is something I can never work on enough!), and my natural style Old Jujutsu (just starting to get deep into this one). I would really love to visit Japan within the next 2-3 years…do you plan on sticking around that long? Maybe I could come visit and train with you!

    I completely agree with you Izzy about the importance of commitment, strategy and saving up toward your plan. While in my current stable, full-time, bill-paying mode, I’ve been saving up money to go to Brazil for the World Cup 2014. Soccer has been my favorite sport for as long as I can remember, and ever since I studied abroad in Spain and Argentina during the South Africa World Cup 2010, it has been my dream to live in the host country for the next world cup! AND, if I can figure out how, in the months before the World Cup starts I’d really like to take a road trip down along the Rocky-Andes Mountains from Idaho-Chile, then cross over to Argentina and from there go up to Brazil.

    I’m ambitious but hopeful!

    Thanks for the good vibes and great story, brother! Hope to meet you someday and train together! Osu ^_^

    1. Julie this is awesome!

      I have no idea how long I will be in Japan but I would say 2 or 3 more years is extremely likely :). I would love to train with you. Just keep in contact with me. Head on over to my site and shoot me an email.

      If we want to make a dream happen we must be truly committed. A half hearted attempt will get us no where. We must be “all in”.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  20. Izzy, your article inspires me a lot. Reading it over and over again since you posted it last October drives me to assess on what holds me in my company? Yes and definitely it needs action, now bravely I quit my job after long years of holding it – my first and only job after finishing college.
    Whew!!! after leaving it, I’m now seeing the real picture of giving up my career – great opportunities ahead, true sense of joy and sense of fulfillment that equates why we are working.
    Bro Danny

    1. Wow Danny! Those are some seriously big steps man.

      So, what’s the game plan for these next moves? Do you have an idea of which direction you want to head?

  21. Hi, Izzy!

    Your story is very inspiring! I am an expat from the Philippines living and working here in Abu dhabi, UAE. This is the first country I moved to after 6 years of working in Manila. I felt that time, 2 years before I left my home, I was exhausted, sick and tired of the lifestyle and all things about my country. I am not saying I am not patriotic but I wanted change. And as you mentioned, it happened to me that I had felt the nail so strong that I really desired and looked for an opportunity to move out. And so, in 2009 I had that opportunity! I started to like UAE due to its simple, laid back atmosphere yet religious and secure. It’s been 4 years already since.

    But since last year I have been feeling that nail again was hitting me. I wanna move out again! I visited Brazil last year to know personally about the country and I found out how warmth the people are and how beautiful the country is! I have even garnered friends through couchsurfing.

    And so, I am just saving enough to fulfill again my dream and probably go back again there in Brazil for some logistics on how easy I could find a new job, learning the language, etc. But then, sometimes, I am thinking of what if’s. A lot of procrastinating!

    Do you think I should set aside those negative thoughts and pursue about my dream? Because this time, I wanna move to a new place where I could really experience life. Not that there’s no life here in the desert, but everything seems just so unreal, artificial in that sense.

    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  22. Best thing I have read in quite a while. Thank you for sharing your story, it really inspires me to actually move forward to something I really enjoy to do and make my life worth it. Definitely bookmarking the story. Thanks again!

  23. Hi Izzy,

    I am at work reading your blog and almost cried (but we must have decorum, must we not? lol). I have a similar dream, which is to quit my life here in Florida and move to Spain and travel over Europe and Morocco while there.

    In your article you said…

    “Yeah, I lived tight. If you want to follow a dream you have to make sacrifices.
    You can’t buy a $6 latte and at the same time claim “I’ll do whatever it takes!”. It doesn’t add up.
    Are you taking financial steps to give you the opportunity to pursue your dreams?”

    That hit me RIGHT in the $6 venti-soy-caramel-lite-frap! OUCH.

    I am going to make a change today, as you’ve suggested, and will download your budget template.

    Thank you for the inspiration and congratulations on doing what you have always wanted. I have always believed that our younger selves were wiser than what we give them credit for because you knew when you were a kid that this life was possible. It is when we get older and ‘smarten’ up that we realize that life is all about college, a boring job that you hate and making it safely to retirement age without too many scratches or bruises.

  24. Izzy. I beg you to inbox me at my email. I share the same dream. And i just dont know what to do. Im a 23 year old oysterman, and until i do this, im going to feel insane. Is there a way i can give you my email without posting it directly on here? I need help. Please.

  25. Hey Izzy!

    Honestly, I want to say that your story is amazing!
    Since i was a child, i lived in Japan for 10 years, and now I’m 15. And i always wanted to do karate, and martial arts, but my parent didn’t really listen to me. Now I want to become a kung fu “warrior” or just super good at martial arts, to take anyone down who tries to hurt me, my family or friends, or people who i might see on streets some day. I want to go to kung fu school in China, for few years, and maybe get a good job. My problem is, why type of job i will be able to get with knowing kung fu very well. could it be a secret agent or something? (i know it sounds strange), but a good job requires a good degree. but I’m planning to joint the kung fu school when I’m 16. Im just very confused. Because if i choose to do so, i might not be able to get a good job at all and earn good money, which is scaring me a little. what should i do? please help!! Thankyou

Leave a Comment

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