Dream Big. No… Bigger.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Ackerman.

Dream Big. No… Bigger.

Written by Emilie

Topics: Goals

I’m feeling this unbelievable lightness.

I had an amazing, laid-back Valentine’s Day. Ellen Page came out of the closet. I just got the design mock ups for the first “multipotentialite” shirt (they’re stunning).

Today feels really good. Hopeful.

I thought I would check in with you guys, and share something personal that I’ve been thinking about lately. It’s been a while since I’ve done that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we place limits on our dreams. Even those of us who are well-versed in Lifestyle Design literature, even we occasionally fall victim to toning down our imaginations.

I’ve been listening to all of these interviews with people who walked across America. It’s such a big and misunderstood quest. It must feel so freeing to be outside of society, observing, mindfully walking.

But traveling isn’t the only way to do something outside the realm of what we think is possible.

My girlfriend is taking an architecture class right now that focuses on weird and amazing homes. She told me about Ferdinand Cheval, a French mailman with no training in construction who spent thirty years building his dream home– a palace made of pebbles and stones that he found along his postal route.

Then there’s Fred Francis, who built a house with an octagon solarium. The house had various engineering marvels like disappearing windows and doors, an air cooling system and running water without electricity. In addition to building his house, he was an artist, poet, inventor, mathematician, and a nudist. (He took regular “air baths” much like our other multipotentialite friend, Benjamin Franklin. Hm.)

I even know people my age who have built their own houses. My friend Ethan built a tiny house last year. So did this couple. Why couldn’t I?

I’ve dreamed of building a tree house before, but I think that was actually me toning down my dreams to match up with a more “realistic” feat. I could do something bigger, something that has never even existed before. Why not?

You know Charles and Ray Eames even if you don’t know them by name. If you’ve ever sat on a chair like this, you know them:


The Eames’ were a married couple who revolutionized the design world in the 1900s. In addition to their work in furniture and architecture, they worked in the fields of graphic design, industrial design and fine art. They also build clever children’s toys, and made several short films.

They were true multipotentialites. This is from a documentary about the couple:

“She was a painter that didn’t paint and [he was] an architecture school drop-out who never got his license,”

Today I challenge you to look back over your list of goals and see how you’ve maybe been toning down your dreams to make them feel more feasible.

I’m guilty of this too. But in a culture like ours, we must always be re-inspiring ourselves and re-learning how to dream big. It needs to be a practice.

Your Turn

How have you toned down your dreams, and how could you make them big again? Got any examples you’d like to share of people who inspire you to dream beyond what you thought was possible?

em_authorbioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist. Learn more about Emilie here.


  1. Dixie Darr says:

    I didn’t think anybody knew about Charles and Ray Eames any more. They were great examples of multipotentialites. I also love that you’re thinking about building your own house. Do it! Your girlfriend’s class sounds amazing. I wonder if she’s familiar with this house just west of Denver in the foothills. I used to drive past it every day on my way to work. http://blogs.westword.com/latestword/2010/11/sleeper_house_photo_tour_see_what_you_could_have_bought_for_153_million.php

    • Emilie says:

      Valerie actually told me about the Eames’ when she learned about them in a different class she took last fall. I got her the DVD box set of their short films for Christmas. They’re such an inspiring duo! I love the tour of their house and workshop.

      Ha that is a crazy house in Colorado. I remember it from Zelig. Thanks for sharing!

  2. shreen says:

    Sometimes I think I dream *too* big. I set myself multiple, seemingly-impossible goals all the time and put myself right in the best place for a burnout!

    But actually, I find it inspiring to think I could possible achieve something so amazing – even the act of writing it down as a mere possibility makes it seem more achievable, even if I don’t eventually achieve the end goal. Pleasure’s in the process, sorta thing. :)

    Finding the architecture stuff fascinating by the way. I used to flat-share with a woman who was a straw bale-specialist architect! Now that was bizarre.

    • Emilie says:

      Yeah, I hear you, Shreen. I need a variety of larger and smaller projects in my life in order to get a sense of completion from time to time. I’m also a fan of breaking big projects up into smaller chunks and really celebrating the heck out of my “small wins” along the way. :)

  3. Em says:

    I’m always inspired by reading like this. We all are limitless in our potetial. It doesn’t matter what you’ve studied, what you know, what you think you can. Creativity is unlimited, one day you might have a thought and if you follow it, amaizing things can happen and you so CAN create epic stuff.

    Few days ago I realized that I’ve always wanted to go to place like Maledives but never even researched any informations about them. So I did now and from now on I know that one day I just might get there. Or Canary Islands. It’s all so possible.

    And I’m also dreaming of desinging my own living, possibly house, one day. I never had any education in it and I’m so not capable of technical thinking :D But I know what I want it to feel like, look like. I’ve always been into the Sims because of the house-designing part :D So who knows, maybe I’ll design my own house one day, too. I love to read stories of people who did that. Who says we all have to live in the same ugly boxes our states are building for us? I’m no rabbit to live in a cage, I want my home to be beautiful.

  4. Jay Piltser says:

    Prior to this year, I was pretty sure that being high energy was gone forever. This coupled with pretty noticeable social anxiety has been keeping my projects fairly low profile.

    This year has been much better for both. Instead of telling myself that I can not deal with people without a copresenter, I am scheduling myself to do workshops at least twice a month until further notice, making videos (for the first time ever) and cleaning up pieces of writing that have been hidden for months. Maybe this year, I will even run camping events again, this time without watering them down.

    Totally excited to be looking at a future in which I am not effectively mute. This site and puttytribe has been a massive inspiration and a constant reminder to dream bigger. Thank you!

  5. Karolinka says:

    I found this post very inspiring and want to say thank you!

  6. Roman says:

    Very true, thank you for sharing!
    I know I’ve definitely toned down my dreams to avoid disappointment and lack of support from others. We definitely need to learn to dream big again.
    The only limits to our lives are the ones we create.

    Much Peace!

  7. heidi says:

    Thanks Emilie. Firstly, just started following you, so happy to be a new member of this community!

    I think we need to imagine immensites for our life, if we don’t, we don’t deserve them either. I have struggled with the same conflict, dreams vs reality – having coming from a very conservative culture ( follow norms, family, children bla bla), i’ve found it hard (and still do) breaking away from the confinements of what is normal, acceptable. It takes a lot of courage to follow your dreams, and overcome your fears. But we all need to do what makes us feel alive, otherwise, that’s not life, that’s autopilot.

    There’s a great article, I’m hoping I can post here, http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/05/15/debbie-millman-look-both-ways-fail-safe/ about courage, and how a woman who initially dreamed about being an artist and a writer followed a “safe path”, and recalls the moment she made that decision. Years later, having built a carreer, and more wise, she wishes she chose differently and has some great words to share..

    “If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.”

  8. Emilie says:

    Hi Heidi,

    Very nice to meet you! Welcome to the community. :)

    That’s such a beautiful quote. I might have to hang that somewhere…

  9. Tania says:

    I often feel like dreaming too big. I usually set big goals in my life, then I fail, and start dreaming again. But I have the one biggest dream that inspires me to move forward.

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