Mia Freedman: “Don’t make a New Year’s Resolution. Choose one word instead.”

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Stop. Don’t make a New Year’s Resolution. It’s a waste of time and you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure come….well, Australia Day most probably.

As a way to change your behaviour, New Year’s Resolutions are doomed to fail. And you don’t need me to quote studies proving this theory, simply cast your mind back to all the resolutions you’ve made in your life and tally up how many of them stuck.

Do you need some thinking music?

Probably not because the answer will likely be: NONE.

Resolutions don't stick. Image via iStock. 

But as the calendar clicks over from one year to the next, it’s natural to feel like you want to do something with that blank page in front of you. For sure. Same.

So here’s an idea: choose a word. A word that will set your intention for the year. Some examples:

  • Friendship
  • Forgiveness
  • Lean In
  • Lean Out
  • Positive
  • Meditation
  • Career
  • Family
  • Fun
  • Health
  • Present
  • Reading
  • Travel


The idea of a word for the year is to draw your focus on something that you’d like to infuse into your life; to thread through it.

At the start of 2016, I did this for the first time and after a bit of thought, I decided my word was ‘create’.  It was the perfect choice for me at the time and ecapsulated in a positive way, everything I wanted to change about my life.

Mamamia' editorial team. Awful bunch of people. ????

A photo posted by Mia Freedman (@miafreedman) on

At work I’d found myself increasingly frustrated at how far away I’d been pulled (again) away from the creative aspect of what I love to do. I’d put off writing a book due to wanting to prioritise my family and our business. My creativity had taken a backseat for a long time and I was becoming grumpy and unpleasant at work and at home. It wasn't serving me nor our business well. Create was my word for 2016 and I embraced it.

Naturally, because I am completely evangelical about everything I do, I bullied everyone around me into choosing their own word for the year. We even made a video about it.

Video by MM

So how did it turn out? I wrote my book. I dived back into the creative process at Mamamia and I extracted myself from large parts of the management side of the business. It was a relief. It was also enormous work. Writing the book was the hardest thing I’ve ever done creatively. But it was fulfilling on some level (the further I get from the actual writing of it the more fulfilling my memory of writing it seems to get! A bit like childbirth….).

The best part was having my word to come back to, which I did many many times, particulary in the first half of the year. It was a brilliant, potent, simple reminder. Like punching an address into your sat nav. Every time I veered off course, I gently reminded myself of ‘create’ and adjusted my path or my thinking. It worked.

Mia Freedman speaks to Annabel Crabb, Holly Wainwright and Monique Bowley about the year that politics went psycho. Post continues below...

And this year? Gosh, I’ve struggled a bit to find my word. Thinking about what 2017 is looking like, my book will be coming out in April so the first word that popped into my head was “flog” but I decided that wasn’t a very nice word and didn’t sound like a particularly worthy intention. I couldn’t imagine getting the word “flog” tattooed on my arm (I seriously considered it with create).

I’ve sat with it for about two weeks now and in a few days it came to me. My word for 2017 is ‘release’.

Releasing my book. But also releasing other things like my apoplexy about the fact that Donald Trump is president. I want to release anger and judgement and outrage. I want to hold things less tightly, care a bit less passionately about EVERYTHING and be battered by the vagaries of the world that little bit less. I want to release some of my intensity because it can be quite exhausting to be me at times.

A photo posted by Mia Freedman (@miafreedman) on

I want to be lighter and a bit freer. I want to have more fun.

So….release. I feel like many of the creative projects I put in place with the very talented team at Mamamia and at Spring St, our US website, will be ready to take flight in 2017. I also want to release my fear of how they will be received – especially my book which I’m quite nervous about, probably because I put so much into it.

Before telling anyone about my word, I rolled it around my head for a few days, marinated it, made sure it was right.

It is and now I’m ready to meet 2017 with clear eyes and a full heart.

Happy new year and a huge virtual hug to you and everyone you love.

M xxxx

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