I mean this sincerely when I say that I hope your 2014 is amazing. 2013 was a rough year for the Cooper camp, but I’m a firm believer that you make your own luck. I try to just keep going, and keep believing that I can have the things I need if I work hard and have a little faith. And I do have the things I need: my family, my friends, and a roof over my head. 🙂

That said, when I started last year, I tried to make a list of the things I really wanted out of my life. I tried to draw a clear picture of what a happy life would look like specifically for me. This is what I wrote in my journal last January:

* I want to have the freedom to travel to see new places.

* I want long blocks of time to create art & work on projects.

* I want to have a good relationship with my family.

* I want a home that is easy to manage & a comfortable place to live.

* I want to have a respectable reputation as a creative.

* I want to have genuine friendships with people who understand me and vice versa.

* I want to feel strong & calm.

* I want to learn new things, and share ideas with others in a meaningful way.

So, these aren’t really resolutions, but just statements about what I really want. Articulating the end goal, as opposed to making a list of resolutions helped me accomplish more than I’d ever thought possible. Now as I start 2014, I’m doing so many new things that I never tried before. I’m finally launching my creative workshop (and hoping to take it on the road!), getting chances to speak in public about my passions, initiating creative collaborations with new friends, and I’m learning more about painting, hand-lettering and lots of other creative things I’ve been curious about for years. Even though it was a long & hard year for our family, I feel more excited about the future and less worried about the unknown.

So, maybe instead of a resolution, try drawing a picture of what your happy life could look like in one year. Just put it out there and see what happens. For me it was a lot of little steps that built toward a new place, and maybe it can be like that for you all too.

I wish you a safe & happy holiday and I’ll see you next year.

p.s. It’s worth noting that my approach is the result of a couple things I learned listening to that Neil Gaiman keynote address, and hearing Stefan Sagmeister speak at Alt about his happiness project. Stefan challenged me to get very specific about the things I actually wanted and to discover what would really make ME happy.
Neil Gaiman basically says this, (and this is the bit that resounds with me) :

“Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.

And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain.”