How To Respond When You’re Facing A Crisis (Including Job Loss and Possible Deportation) Part 1

I thought I had it made.

I did everything right… Or so I thought.

But the email I just read – disproved me on this one.

“We are sorry Mr. Arkin, but the job we had initially hired you for has fallen through…”

This is a Problem…

A little over 3 months ago I moved to Kyoto, the historical capital of Japan. I found a job, a place to live, and an incredible martial arts dojo!

I was following my dream.

Then 2 months ago I was told that my job “had fallen through”.

This was a slight problem. And by “slight” I mean massive. 

No Job = No Visa.

Here’s the problem – if I don’t have a job, I don’t have a visa.

If I don’t have a visa, I can’t legally live in Japan.

Uh Oh..

I know that historically ninjas have been identified as criminals – but this isn’t the route I was hoping to take.

I assumed my visa would run out in about 60 days.

My concern is that my name would pop up as an “alert” in some computer at a Japanese Immigration Office.

Of course, I don’t really know this -but really I’d rather not find out.

The Response

At the time (2 months ago) I thought about sharing this challenge with all of you. But I didn’t like that idea.

My policy over here at the 30 Year Old Ninja is that I follow my dream, I learn from it, then I share it.

I don’t talk about the struggle while it’s happening if it’s not to your benefit. But after living it (and surviving it) I’m thrilled to be able to share the strategies I used to get through this experience.

The 4 Steps to Responding to a Crisis

1. Establish a “Thinking Time” with a deadline.

As soon as I received the email I recognized I had a problem.

I didn’t want to panic, but it was difficult.

I committed to “not take any action” until Monday morning (I received the email Friday afternoon). I would use the weekend to sit and reflect on the issue.

Here is the key – I set a deadline for thinking.

Because I set a deadline I wasn’t concerned about “I must do something now!”. This allowed me to gain some calm in the midst of the storm.

I took some quiet walks, got feedback from those I trust.

The amount of time you give yourself to “think” varies on the situation. The key is to take a step back and recognize the challenges you are facing.

2. Develop a weekly plan

Come Monday morning I put together a plan. Within this plan included every step I needed to take.

I wrote out exactly what I wanted.

Here I was in a pretty serious moment- If I didn’t find a job soon I could be illegally residing in Japan. It would be easy to make some rash decisions that would have some long term consequences.

For example – finding full time work isn’t too difficult as an English teacher. But with my dream – full time work doesn’t allow me the necessary time to train (in aikido).

There are numerous jobs out there that pay horrible wages and treat their employees like dirt. Often these companies have you sign a 1 year contract and then use “the visa” as leverage to keep you. It would be easy for me to settle.

There are dangers out there – if we don’t keep a clear head.

I identified the following 2 things:

a) What I didn’t know. b) The actions I must take.

What I did not know became part of the actions I had to take and learn.

I wrote down a list of actions. I focused on process over outcomes. So although my goal was to “find a job” the action items focused on the process:

  • Apply for 10 jobs
  • Develop Cover Letter for new jobs
  • Call Immigration and discuss “how to get a visa”
Notice that although my situation was a little scary the actions are all quite simple.

After I had my list of action items I developed a weekly plan. I simply looked at my action list, then I asked myself “What must I do this week?”

Then I wrote them out into my weekly planner.

3. Identify my “Highest Value Activities” Each morning and do them. 

Every morning I looked at my weekly plan and asked myself “What is the single most important activity I can do today?” Initially it was “Apply for jobs.” But as time moved forward it was “prepare for interview.” Or “Get necessary documents organized for interview.”

Once I finished my highest value activity I would go back to my list and ask the exact same question “What is the most important thing I can do next?” Then I would do it.

This process virtually gauranteed that I always did the most important work.

It is so darn important that you identify your most important activities. If you do this and follow through with them on a daily basis- crisis or not – you will soar! I am sure of this :).

4. Do A Weekly Review – Analyze, adjust, and follow through. 

Every Monday I would sit down for 60 minutes and do an analysis of my previous week. I pulled out my previous weeks plan and studied it like a coach looks over a film tape.

I asked and answered the following three questions:

1. What behaviors must I keep doing to achieve my goals? 2. What behaviors must I stop doing to achieve my goals? 3. What new behaviors must I start doing to achieve my goals?

Then based on these answers I wrote up the current weeks plan.

Then I rinsed and repeated steps 3 and 4 until I accomplished my goals.

The Results

Over the course of 30 days I was able to find new work – Actually I found 2 jobs.

It took about 2 months but my visa came through as well – I am 100 percent legal in Japan for another 3 years.

Each and every step above allowed me to remain calm and focused throughout this entire process.

I hope this post gives you inspiration and practical application to deal with a crisis or struggle you are currently facing.

For the comments:

How can you use the steps in this post with your current situation (Please don’t hold back this can be really helpful for other readers!)? 


Maybe your current situation doesn’t “fit” – please share it and I’ll give you some thoughts on how I would approach it. 


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For the comments:

How can you use the steps in this post with your current situation (Please don’t hold back this can be really helpful for other readers!)? 


Maybe your current situation doesn’t “fit” – please share it and I’ll give you some thoughts on how I would approach it.