I’m a thinker, not a doer

Tami Sigmund
Mar 1, 2013 · 6 min read

I’ve determined that I have so much an obsession with “doing” that I end up not doing anything. It’s a problem.

I’m a product of internet culture. I spend much of my days and evenings reading the web. I have a staple set of 10 or so websites that I check multiple times throughout the day. I follow RSS feeds and aggregate sites, combing over Hacker News and Reddit and Google Reader. I am always plugged in to Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr and when something new happens in the world (as impacting as a celebrity death or national tragedy or as silly as another spat between game journalists on Twitter) then I am one of the firsts to know (and retweet). I’ve been told that my name is synonymous with the internet. It’s not synonymous with the ‘real life’ though.

I feel an intense pressure to be a better person than I am. To be smarter because of the articles on Medium and Svbtle, to be more critical of media and eloquent about it due to sites like Critical Distance, Paste, and BitCreature. To be a better writer like the captivating bloggers on xoJane and Pioneer Woman. To be creative and crafty like the women on Pinterest, and to make sure my house looks as hipster and trendy as everything on Apartment Therapy. To read as much as Felicia Day does and everyone else on Goodreads who just completed their “100 books read in 2013” goal before the year is 1/4 over. To lose weight like the people on /r/loseit and obsessively track the points on Fitocracy and share my running maps on Facebook and Twitter so everyone knows just how active I was that day. To be a ‘good feminist’ like the ladies at Shakeville and Feministe and all the other social justice blogs that I read. To be an intellectual, to know and understand everything about politics and world affairs, to stay on top of the latest music trends like the reviewers on Pitchfork and other hipster music blogs. To be someone bigger than myself. Someone better.

I decide that I want to become a photographer and take pictures of horses, to make my horse riding passion a career. I spend days reading articles on the web about photography, I lay in bed reading books about aperture and ISO while in bed. I research paid online courses for photography, I sign up for a local class. I research cameras and compare my dSLR to the latest models. I post on Reddit asking for advice. I don’t take a single picture all week.

I go on Codecademy and swear that I’m going to learn to code. I’m going to build something, I’m going to be an extremely employable person with a tangible skill that I can offer to others. I complete a track, I feel accomplished. I never end up building anything, and by the next time I think about programming I’ve already forgotten everything I’ve learned.

I’m constantly feeling the need to be on top of the video game industry and all its verticals. I read over 100 video game websites, subscribe to video game subreddits, run more than one video gaming blog, send out articles around the office to everyone, try to be knowledgeable about what’s going on in esports, and mobile games, and social games, and freemium titles, and MMOs, and new technologies, web-based games, indie games, you name it. I feel an intense desire to purchase new games that everyone is enjoying because I don’t want to miss out on the experience, but 90% of them remain unplayed in my Steam library. I read about games all day long but spend a tiny amount of time actually playing them.

Even when not job searching, I check LinkedIn daily and I look at the Gamasutra job postings and I search my local Craigslist job ads for “game” just to see what kind of opportunities are out there. I want to feel wanted, even when I’m not ready to leave. I want to attend every conference, I want to liveblog it and share it on the web. I want to be able to write articles about my work experience. I want to keep moving up my career and being someone who is important to someone in the industry. But I also want to do everything else I’ve mentioned above: photography, horse sports, learning to program, interior decorating, real estate, reading books, playing every game I can, traveling and doing new things. I want to have that work-life balance.

I want to work for myself, I want to do my own thing. I want to have my own startup and my own business. But I can’t do that until I have an idea. I can’t have an idea without doing a ton of research. How will I ever measure up to the single men in Silicon Valley with their incubators and their coworking and their Y Combinators and their VC drinking buddies and their company perks and ping pong and nerf gun fights? Any idea I have feels like it has already been done. And startups are for ‘doers’ not for ‘thinkers’. It’s for people who take the photos, not the people who plan on taking photos someday after they know everything there is to know about the science and art of photography.

I wake up in the morning, sit down at my computer, and start working from home. I spend the day in my chair pouring over emails, doing web meetings on Skype, chatting over IM with my coworkers. Now and then I take a break to read the internet. When I do, I’m generally researching one of these things above. Something to DO. Some other hobby, some kind of career, something different. I’m never satisfied. I’m always hoping for some kind of email in my inbox that whisks me off to a new part of life that I haven’t experienced yet. Some amazing opportunity that interrupts my daily monotonous flow of wanting and researching and wishing and makes me actually DO.

I sit there and think that if I want to be a dog trainer, maybe I should start by training my own unruly dogs. I stare at the Steam icon on my desktop and think that maybe I should play something, but not until after I finish reading this website (and the next one…and the next one). I think about taking photos but then realize there is another aspect of the hobby that I didn’t research yet. I contemplate going to the grocery store but first I need to look up recipes online and make sure the meal plan is all set up. I want to go shopping or to dinner but I need to look up the place on Yelp to make sure it’s worth it. I want to buy some kind of new item but first I have to look up reviews on the web to make sure I’m buying the right thing.

I can never just sit and ‘be’ who I am. My mind is always heading off in some new direction, trying to come up with some grand scheme. I have a sense of anxiety when I’m not actively planning out the next ‘thing’ in my life. The next thing never happens though, because I’m too busy trying to figure out exactly what it should be, and how I should do it, and who would join in, what implications it could have on my life, and what holes I can poke through my plans to sabotage them before they get off the ground.

I just want to be as good as everyone else at getting things done. How can I be less methodical and ‘head in the clouds’ and start actually being the productive person that I am in my mind? Why am I always stuck on who I *could* be and not who I am now? I am feeling exhausted and anxious about always wanting more.

    Tami Sigmund

    Written by

    Community Manager @YNAB. Mommy, writer, equestrian, foodie, content marketer. Formerly: Riot Games The Playforge, PopCap Games, Playdom.