Doers vs. Dreamers

Top Tips from Dr. Brynn Winegard on how to live your best-brained life post-pandemic.

As the country begins to re-open, Canadians are naturally thinking about how to get their lives back on track and seat themselves squarely in the driver’s seat of their own lives. In a new survey conducted by belairdirect, Canadians were asked about their goals, dreams, aspirations, productivity, and accomplishments before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The responses were extremely thought-provoking and gave an insight into whether Canadians see themselves as ‘Dreamers’ or ‘Doers’, their sense of accomplishment, risk tolerance, and ability to be productive when it comes to achieving their goals and realizing their dreams.

Below you will find the survey insights that I think are particularly reflective of how Canadian’s are feeling right now in relation to achieving goals that may have been put on the backburner over the past 15 months, followed by my top brain-based tips that will help overcome some of these obstacles and feelings, in order to be your best-brained self and feel in control of your life again post-pandemic.


‘Doers vs. Dreamers’ Top Survey Insights:

  1. Almost 71% of Canadians don’t identify as ‘Doers’, but rather as ‘Dreamers’ or a variable mix of the two.

While the majority of those surveyed want to perceive themselves as ‘Doers’ versus ‘Dreamers’ in work and in life, most do not, especially in their younger years. Post-pandemic, it is clear that Canadians want to be motivated and mobilized now more than ever and move themselves from ‘Dreamer’ to ‘Doer’ status in order to achieve their goals, but they don’t always have the right tips, tools or techniques in place for getting over the finish line.

  1. While ¾ of Canadians believe that goals give them direction in life, over half of respondents said that psychological barriers such as procrastination or fear of failure stopped them from achieving some of their goals.

Many Canadians were concerned that, while they have important, directional goals, they don’t feel that they have the right plan, support, mindset, or resources in place to actually achieve them. Believing that one’s goals are out of reach keeps people in a ‘Dreamer’ status and does not facilitate a move to ‘Doer’ status. First and foremost, it is important that you feel supported and psychologically safe in order to have the courage to make big life decisions and go after big goals.

  1. 75% of Canadians said that they put off making major life decisions during the pandemic. Now, people will have to get back to making big decisions of all kinds again post-pandemic.

The pandemic put many people’s life plans, goals and dreams on the backburner. Now, over a year after the first lockdown, people across the world are out of practice when it comes to making big decisions, which many will find overwhelming or intimidating more than ever. Canadians need to be encouraged and re-empowered to trust themselves and believe in their own decision-making so that they can take action towards achieving big life goals and dreams.

  1. While most Canadians believe that you’re never too old to have dreams, nearly HALF of respondents feel that having big goals may lead to disappointment.

Having the belief that ‘dreaming big’ will ultimately lead to disappointment, can often keep people in ‘Dreamer’ rather than ‘Doer’ mode. It is much more difficult to make your dreams, goals and desired outcomes a reality in life or at work if you don’t really believe in them, believe you deserve them, and believe that you can achieve them. Below you will find some top tips to help overcome these barriers and help you feel confident in yourself!


Dr. Brynn’s Top Brain-Based Tips

For feeling more in control of your life, feeling safer in your decision-making, and achieving like a ‘Doer’


  1. Moving from ‘Dreamer’ to ‘Doer’: Expect Less, Get More!

Every morning, many of us start out with great intentions: coffee in hand, to-do list penned, and starting on the things that we want to accomplish for our work, for our families and for ourselves that day. However, for one reason or another, many of the items on that list can often go uncompleted. This cycle repeats itself day and in and day out, and short and long-term goals and can easily be left unaccomplished.

The problem isn’t you – it’s often the unrealistic expectations you’ve set for yourself. When you expect too much of yourself each day, you can quickly find things overwhelming, and will run low on energy, available time, patience, and stamina, and can sometimes be paralyzed by fear, self-doubt, and dwindling willpower. When we don’t accomplish what we set out to do, we experience something that psychologists call an ‘expectancy violation’: you expected much of yourself and, in turn, got little out of yourself. Self-disappointment is a motivational black hole – there’s nothing worse than feeling truly disappointed in yourself or berating yourself for what you see as laziness, lethargy, idleness.

To increase motivation for accomplishing, achieving and being productive, it’s simple: don’t be so hard on yourself. Break big projects or goals up into much smaller components and choose which ones you will focus on first each day. By decreasing the high expectations that you place on yourself, you will actually increase your ‘cognitive bandwidth’ for getting things done – you will feel lighter (lower cognitive load) and more capable (higher sense of self-efficacy).

  1. Right-Sizing your To-Do List: The Power of Prioritization & Mindfulness for Feeling in Control

One of the best ways to ensure you expect a reasonable amount from yourself (you’re a mere mortal after all, with only 24 hours in a day) is to do something I call ‘right-sizing’ your to-do list. My advice for how to prioritize and whittle down the size of your to-do list is this: choose the ONE BIG THING you want to accomplish every day and put only that on your list. Every morning, ask yourself: “what’s my ONE BIG THING today?”

By choosing one major priority for the day and having the self-discipline to stick to it, you will notice not just an increase in motivation, but you’ll also be pleasantly surprised with how quickly you accomplished what you needed to, and how much more you were able to achieve in your day afterwards.

Research shows that people who focus on ‘the one big thing’ every day have increases in self-efficacy, are more satisfied and actually accomplish MORE than people who build unrealistic, and ultimately disappointing, laundry lists of tasks for themselves. Part of the reason ‘right-sizing’ your to-do lists works and increases your sense of control, motivation, and productivity is that prioritization increases your cognitive deliberateness and mindfulness: basically, you’re much more ‘present’ and feel more capable.

  1. Enlisting the Right Help for Psychological Safety in Decision-Making

As you move out of lockdowns and quarantines into a faster-paced life with more possibilities, it is important that have the right resources and support in place, in order to feel safe making major life decisions and achieving your dreams.

Neuroscientists have discovered that nearly 80% of all your neural networks are involved in social processing: our social circumstances dictate much about our sense of support, safety, and happiness. When in doubt, or when you find yourself reaching a point of sluggishness with life goals or projects: ask for help from your social network and trusted partners. Friends and loved ones are often more than willing to lend a hand or provide advice.

Finally, your support network need not be limited: ensuring you have the right professional services can go a long way to increasing your sense of psychological safety and support in decision-making and in life. Having the right insurance and financial counsel, as example, can go a long way toward making you feel as though you’re safe and supported as you work toward accomplishing your goals and moving from ‘Dreamer’ to ‘Doer’ status.


Dr. Brynn Winegard is an award-winning professor and expert in applied neuroscience, who has partnered with belairdirect to analyze our exciting new survey findings and deliver brain-based tips for how our customers can accomplish more, feel protected, and feel more in control of their lives post-pandemic.

As a trusted insurance provider to Canadians, belairdirect’s mission with this campaign and the survey they conducted, was to get a better understanding of how people across the country are feeling about getting their lives and goals back on track, what they need to feel supported and protected, and give them practical tips and tools to help mobilize them from ‘Dreamer’ to ‘Doer’ status.

With belairdirect as a trusted partner, you can have peace of mind and focus on your goals, instead of worrying about whether your dreams are fully protected. Whether you’re a ‘Doer’ or a ‘Dreamer’, choosing the right insurance provider and partner to help bridge the gap can seem like a big task, but with belairdirect it’s simple – get a quote in minutes here.