Visions and Verbs

Sean Devine
2 min readJan 2, 2017


Inspired by Letters From a Self-Made Merchant to His Son, I started writing letters to my 20-year old daughter. This is the first.

Dear _______,

I’ve been thinking more about your struggle to find purpose. In case it might be helpful, I decided to share some more thoughts on the topic.

It’s hard for your vision for your life not to be constrained by your resources. In other words, most people can only imagine a future that can be accomplished using what they already possess (skills, relationships, money, time, etc). As you know, this creates a chicken-or-egg problem. It’s like the person that wants a job that requires experience, but can only get experience by having the job. How do you “seed” your life when it feels like the seed that you need would be an outcome of the life that you want?

While it might be fun to fantasize about being given the seeds for a great life (i.e. inherited wealth, random fame, model looks), that’s not how life works. The exception proves the rule.

Instead, spend your time imagining the things that you want to accomplish, however big or small. Count on being able to figure out how to achieve your vision. You already have plenty of raw material to do amazing things, but it won’t be clear how to mix those ingredients if you’re not working in the kitchen.

And so, once you have a goal in mind, start cooking. It’s like the TV show Chopped. It may seem like a hopeless situation to look down and see ketchup, cabbage, and an octopus as your three ingredients for the entree, but people get resourceful. You will too.

That’s the thing about resourcefulness. It’s a misnomer. Being resourceful means that you have a clear purpose, an optimistic perspective, and relatively few resources! But once you have a goal in mind, you’ll be shocked to discover the usefulness of the seemingly useless things you already have at your disposal.

Transform your inner voice to speak in visions and verbs. What do you see for your future? What can you do to make that happen?

When your self-talk veers into nouns and adjectives, don’t listen. Those are excuses that will just get in your way. No more “I wish I had this”, or “I wish I was that”.

Start with something small this week. Close your eyes and imagine something that you want to accomplish. Write it down and refer to the goal regularly. Let it stew a bit. Then start taking action. Do the next thing that comes to mind that would get you closer to your vision. Rinse and repeat.

You’ll accomplish more than you thought you could. And once you start getting more confident, your vision will naturally get more audacious.

I’m already confident in you, and so is your Mom. You’re going to make a great life.

Love you lots,




Sean Devine

Husband, father of five!, programmer, entrepreneur, former host of the Ruby on Rails podcast, NBA fan.