“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” ~Unknown
Do you have a dream? A wish? A desire?
Do you ever wake up and wonder: What would it be like to love life?
People can tell you “follow your dream,” but is anyone really doing it?
Not someone in a TV show or movie—a real, living, breathing human, just like you?
Is it possible?
Three years ago I couldn’t sleep. Night after night, I’d lie awake at 2am. My heart would pound in my chest.
The anxiety overtook me. I welcomed it. If I fell back asleep, the next time I woke I would head back to that place. The place I despised.
Fifty hours a week to a job that was slowly, inch by inch, sucking the life out of me.
I was twenty-six years old, but I didn’t feel twenty-six. I felt old, tired, and overwhelmed.
As I write this post, I remember that night. Staring in the mirror. I could barely look at myself. The breathing in my chest pushing in and out rapidly. Tears rushing down my face. I was a grown man, or at least I was supposed to be.
Allowing Fear to Stop You
I was so scared. I’d put all my work experience, degrees, and life into my career. Yet, I hated it.
I had gone all in—and I was losing.
I couldn’t argue with the tears flowing down my cheeks. Something needed to change.
Follow The Dream
I know what it’s like to feel depressed, lost, and burned out. But I also know what it’s like to follow a dream.
I’m now thirty years old, and my life is a lot different than it was four years ago.
Soon after that experience, I made a commitment to discover and follow my dream.
What’s my dream? I want to become a ninja.
Not a ninja in the traditional sense. It’s a childhood dream.
Over the course of four years I quit my job in America, moved to Japan, and now I train extensively in martial arts.
I arrive at the dojo at 7:30am Monday through Friday. Over the next year of my life I will train over 1,000 hours in Aikido (a martial art).
I’m living, breathing proof that it’s possible to follow a dream.
I’m thrilled to wake up each morning. I love my life in a manner I never knew possible. But this post isn’t about me—it’s about all of us. More importantly, it’s about all of our dreams.
I hope with all my heart, today is the day that you begin the journey to turn your dream into a reality.
15 Reasons to Start Following Your Dream Today
1. You’ve always wanted to do this.
When I think about the question: If you had a million dollars what would you do with your life? I can now say, “Exactly what I’m doing.”
You’ve always wanted to follow your dream—so start today!
2. You’ll experience things you never could have imagined.
I’ve taken Japanese tea lessons with a fifty-year-old woman. I’m learning a new language. I eat foods that I never knew existed.
The pursuit of a dream will give you experiences you never thought possible.
3. You will become courageous.
At some point your dream will mean so much to you that you will stop at nothing. When the dream overtakes you, no matter what your fears are, you will not allow it to stop you.
You will stare your fears in the face. You will become a courageous person.
4. You will become an inspiration to those around you.
By doing what I want to do instead of what others want from me, I have been able to inspire others to follow their dreams.
Focus on your dreams, not what others want you to do, and you will do the same.
5. You will realize the incredible things you are capable of doing.
When you step forward to pursue your dream, you will face challenges you never could have anticipated. You will allow nothing to stop you. You will shock yourself at your ability to plow through any situation.
6. You will like yourself more.
You will feel excited and energized by the life you are choosing to live. You will feel proud of what you are doing. And you will like yourself more for it.
7. Life will become beautiful.
As you realize your own potential, you will realize the potential in others. You will start to recognize the beauty that life, you, and others have to offer.
8. Your joy and happiness will become contagious.
When people are around you, they will feel better about themselves and life because you are living proof it is possible to live a dream!
9. You will connect on a deeper level with the force of the universe.
The pursuit of a dream requires an act of faith. You step forward and take action. When you do this, you will face experiences that will bring you closer to the force of the universe.
10. You will smile more.
Life is better when you smile more. If you follow your dream, you will enjoy yourself and this will happen!
11. It will give meaning to everything you do.
Before I started following my dream I would often wonder, “What’s the point?”
Now, I know the answer to that question: Every action I take brings me closer to my dream.
12. The food will taste better.
Yup, you read that right! When you step forward with your dream, you will feel more alive and you will better appreciate all the beauty life has to offer. So, yes! Even the food tastes better.
13. Every day you will learn new things.
Every day I learn more Japanese, more martial arts, and more about myself. I’m challenged and excited. The deeper I get in my dream, the more I learn.
14. Your happiness will show on your face.
It’s true! When you are optimistic, excited, and happy, guess what? You are drastically more attractive.
At twenty-six I looked stressed out and overwhelmed. At thirty I look happy and excited because I am happy and excited.
15. You will love being around you.
When we pursue a dream, we are connecting with our heart’s desires. It’s a way of telling our soul “I love you.”
It’s pretty great to hang out with people you love—especially when it’s yourself!
What has stopped you from following your dream?
About Izmael Arkin
Izzy quit his job as a middle school science teacher to follow his childhood dream: to become a ninja. He now works with adolescents who have been through highly traumatic experiences using Aikido as a therapeutic modality to help them heal their trauma. You can find him at mendocinocountyaikido.com.