There are those moments in time when you can see it, feel it, and for a short moment you live it.
But then you come back to reality. You feel the doubts, the insecurity. The mind starts shelling out questions:
What about money?
What will your friends say?
What about your career?
What if you fail?
It’s scary, overwhelming. You want to do it, to go for it.
Sometimes you even swear “This is it!” but then the doubts start creeping.
I can’t do it.
It’s not realistic.
Focus on your career.
So with all this on your mind, you choose to wait. But there is a problem: As long as you keep choosing to wait, you will never move forward with your dream…
Dreams and Uncertainty
This is the reality of a dream – it is beautiful and scary. It is exciting yet overwhelming.
Dreams and uncertainty simply go hand in hand.
Today I want to discuss two things. First I want to discuss the uncertainty of pursuing a dream. Second I want to provide you with specific actionable steps to deal with uncertainty.
Below I share my story in hopes of inspiring you to take action.
Are Dreams Possible?
Who am I to discuss dreams with you?
My name is Izzy. Three years ago I had it made, or at least that is what it look liked.
I was earning a masters degree in education, in my 4th year of teaching, soon to be running my own school and getting loads of recommendations from fellow educators.
My resume looked impressive… on paper. Unfortunately my resume was only a reflection of what I had done not what I felt.
Inside I was dying.
I was depressed, overwhelmed, and struggled with anxiety. Every night I awoke at 2 am unable to fall back asleep as I ran through the upcoming days events.
Something needed to change, I had to change, my life had to change.
A piece of me knew what I wanted to do, but I was scared to death to do it.
Do you ever have that feeling: You know what you want and it’s frightening?
I did everything they told me to do. I had the secure job, the degrees, the education, the experience… and I was depressed.
I had a dream but it sounded ridiculous, crazy even!
I wanted to be a ninja.
So here I was – 26 years old with a masters degree in education qualified to run my own school and soon would be… but in my heart I wanted to quit it all – to become a ninja.
What do you do?
How would you deal with the uncertainty?
Do you listen to your dream or let it die?
Death or Life
I couldn’t take it. I pulled over to the side of the road. It was midday on a Saturday, cars were flying by, my mind was racing.
Tears flowed down my cheeks.
I was so unhappy.
I don’t know how long I was on the side of the road or if anyone noticed. It’s kind of a blur. But I do remember my thoughts.
That was the moment I said: I don’t know how I am going to do this, and I don’t care - that was the moment I committed.
I committed to being happy.
I committed to finding my purpose.
I committed to following my dream.
But I also committed to finish out the school year. This gave me about 10 months to figure out my life.
It started slow, day by day step by step. I began to read books, volunteer in my community, participate in new activities.
As I did each of these things my spirit started to lift. The books brought me inspiration, the new activities broke me out of my comfort zone.
It was a difficult year, but each day I made progress.
I began to start asking “What if I became a ninja?” “How could I do it?”
Do you see what has happening?
I was beginning to embrace uncertainty. I was beginning to explore it.
As I explored it, answers slowly started to reveal themselves.
A ninja is an expert in martial arts. So I trained in martial arts.
A ninja trains with the best in the world. So I began to search for the best training in the world.
A ninja follows his own rules. So I stopped listening to society. I stopped caring about my resume, my experience and my degrees.
Each and every day as I read another page, tried a new activity, and challenged myself I became more and more comfortable with stretching my limits. At the time I didn’t know it, but I was taking a first class course on embracing uncertainty.
It didn’t happen overnight. It took time. In fact it took about 3 years…
Today as I write this, I live in the historical capital of Japan: Kyoto. I train in martial arts up to 5 days a week and work part time to cover my expenses.
Three years ago I quit my job, and made a plan. I committed to my dream.
I have faced uncertainty in so many forms – doubt, insecurity, ambiguity.
Now as I move forward with my dream I continue to face uncertainty. But it is different.
Before I feared uncertainty, now I embrace it.
With uncertainty comes opportunity.
When I first started to move forward with my dream I never could have imagined that it would lead me to the other side of the world training in martial arts. But it has.
You see, uncertainty also means opportunity. If I were to be certain of all the steps and where my dream would take me – I would have done so much less. And now, my dream still has immense uncertainty to it. Where will I go from here? What do I do next? Of course, I have ideas but really I dont know, and I welcome that. In 1 year who knows where I will be.
I am happy with this, thrilled with this. This is because I have learned to embrace uncertainty.
The danger is that we can get so caught up in our own heads that we miss out on the beauty of this journey. A dream never ends. A dream isn’t about an outcome, it is about a journey.
I am excited to let you know there will be a follow up post to this one that provides 10 specific actionable steps I took to increase by ability to deal with uncertainty.
For today, I want you to really step back and think about the following questions.
How has uncertainty impacted your decisions?
Are you fighting with uncertainty?
How to embrace uncertainty?
We would love to hear your answers in the comments below.
P.S – don’t forget to come back for the follow up post (this is part 1 in a 2 post series)!
About the Author
Izzy is a crazy dude. He quit his job as a teacher to pursue his childhood dream: to become a ninja. He now lives in Japan where he trains in martial arts extensively. Check out Izzy’s Ninja Tool Kit – books and tools to help you follow your dreams. You can read more about Izzy’s journey at The 30 Year Old Ninja,