Are You a Dreamer or a Doer?


Some people are dreamers, and some people are doers. To be successful in life you probably need to be a little bit of both.

I was always a highly suggestible child. Anything I saw, read about, heard about, or anything anyone else did I simply had to do. And every time I was convinced that this would now be my career, my new goal in life. It was my life long dream, my calling and it was all I cared about. I would throw myself into the deep end with my wellies still on, determined to sink or swim in this brave new thing I was undertaking.

What I always lacked was the follow through. After reading a book about someone who was terminally ill and tried to make 1,000 paper cranes to get their wish, I was determined to complete the task. So I set about making 1,000 paper cranes and, as was typical of me growing up, insisted I would definitely definitely be doing that forever and therefore would require at least 1,000 pieces of origami paper to complete this task. I think I made about 4 before I got bored and moved on to my next great dream of raising ducks, leaving unmade paper cranes and a lifetime supply of origami paper in my wake.

There were many other instances as I was growing up, each time requiring quite an investment of time, energy and supplies from my parents. Looking back I feel quite sorry that they had to put up with this, both for them and for their wallets. Although admittedly I was pretty young when they started insisting I would soon get bored of whatever it was I was doing at that exact moment and they’re sure I don’t need all the supplies right now. Besides, the store will still be there tomorrow.

There was the time I was determined to make my own business cards. Another time at school we did twilling, is it called twilling? Quilling! Where you twirl little bits of paper into patterns and stick them to cards. It sounds bizarre but it is actually very beautiful, when you spend the time learning how to do it properly. Only, I didn’t. I insisted this was going to be my next big dream. That, naturally, I was going to be a professional quiller and required all the professional equipment, which I forgot about after I couldn’t make a butterfly go the way it was supposed to go. I think my mum actually took on that hobby for a while. There was also the great folk art phase, I’m sure there are still folk art paints in the study at my parents’ house.

I have always been a dreamer. Always looking at the big picture, planning the next big adventure, the next way I was going to become a millionaire and marry Devon Sawa, as you do. Never content to simply do, I was always thinking about the other options. Passion for new ideas and a can do attitude has never been something I have lacked. I always figured if someone else could do it, I could too. And mostly I could, but that was part of the problem. When you’re better than the norm each time you try something, it’s easy to be convinced you will one day be a master, and hard to settle on what, exactly, you would be a master of.

My husband can be a bit the same, he has his fingers in so many pies I don’t even know all the hobbies he does. Currently he’s designing web pages, about to release his second album, designing a roleplaying game, running a successful blog as well as a podcast… and I’m sure there are many others.

Yes, I was convinced this was my calling in life.

Our problem has always the leap from dreaming to reality. To this day I can sing, tap dance, paint, draw, do folk art, quill, make business cards and snowboard. But I can do all those things just well enough, because I never had the follow through to excel.

Some people have the opposite problem. Content to spend their lives striving for mediocrity, they never dream or wish to achieve. Or they do, but they just have no ideas of what to do.

Then there are some people who just want a cubicle with their name on it, a comfortable home. A roof over their heads and food to eat. You might call these people the smart ones, and the ones far more likely to achieve happiness. Or those who only have one dream, who work for it, and who achieve it just as they had planned. Who excel at just one thing.

But there’s the rare person, and one of my friends is like this, who not only comes up with a million dreams, they actually make them all happen. And well! A few months ago she informed us all she decided she was going to make shoes, and her first designs have just shipped. In a few months! She not only dreams, and dreams big, but she makes that connection between dreams and reality.

She reminds me a bit of Tony Stark or, the real (recent) version, Steve Jobs, who not only saw a way to make better products, he actually did it. And before him there were many others, who saw a way the world could be improved, politicians, activists, scientists. People like Martin Luther King, Jr. People like Albert Einstein or Edison. People who dared to dream, and then followed through.

The amazing people in life are the ones who can dream and do.

Are you a dreamer? Are you a doer? Do you like to have your hand in many pies or are you content with what you have?


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  • Rose Russo

    I think this is one of my favourite posts by you T.

    I think I’m a bit of both… although I do dream a lot, and I dream big! Some may see this as a weakness – and I do disappoint myself often as I have high expectations of myself – but I like to think of it as a strength.

    I’m a planner. I like to have many hobbies and to keep busy. It’s a very big part of who I am and what makes me happy and content.

    I laughed at your many dreams as a child… I was similar with a new hobby every week but ultimately it always came back to writing. Writing makes me happy. If I go a week without writing something it’s just not right.

    • Tamsin Howse

      You know it’s funny, I don’t write because I like writing. I’m not a writer. I write because I just don’t stop talking 😉

  • Lucy

    I love this post. When I was a kid I was always dreaming about all different careers, but once a new one came up – I didn’t get rid of the old one. It got to the point where I wanted to be a forensic scientist by day and dancer & professional netballer by night. I would also have published multiple best selling books. Oh – and I’d have completed a psychology degree as back up. I’ll never be a forensic scientist, but I did play netball (and was good at it) and dance for a while. I still write, but I doubt my writing could ever become best selling work!

    Now, I still dream but I seem to have settle on 1-2 dreams I may actually achieve. I want to be midwife. I want to complete a psychologists degree at some point. I want to write a book, but don’t expect it to actually sell. These are things that make me happy and I know that these dreams are what make me happy and by having these dreams, I hold on to the motivation to finish my nursing degree in order to make them come true.

  • Mazi Gray

    I tend to do too much, the thing stopping me from writing at the moment is the Uni work. I still try, end up overcommited and then alomost collapse. I am a dreamer who tries to do.. EVERYTHING AT ONCE!

  • Melissa Savage

    Dreamer. I’m terrible at follow-through.

  • Jessica Chapman

    My problem was that I was a creative dreamer and then when I couldn’t achieve what I had imagined in my head I got really upset. Still do really, just now there’s much less tantrum throwing.

  • John Booker

    Fantastic post i love this.