real life

Mia Freedman: "Don't make a New Year's Resolution. Choose one word instead."

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, in about 10 days 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 think 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

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. Intention is different to resolution.

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.

Some examples:

  • Friendship
  • Forgiveness
  • Lean In
  • Lean Out
  • Change
  • Humour
  • Family
  • Calm
  • Positivity
  • Career
  • Satisfied
  • Patience
  • Family
  • Gratitude
  • Ambition
  • Fun
  • Discover
  • Health
  • Present
  • Reading
  • Travel

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 encapsulated in a positive way, everything I wanted to change about my life.

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 badgered everyone around me into choosing their own word for the year. We even made a video about it – watch it below.

Video by MM

So how did it turn out that first year? 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. Much like childbirth…).

The best part was having my word to come back to, which I did many many times, particularly 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.


Unlike new year’s resolutions, choosing a Word Of The Year doesn’t feel punitive and there’s no shame attached if you ‘fail’ or veer off course as you undoubtedly will. It’s such an effective way to just recalibrate your attention and make little adjustments.

This word thing has become one of my favourite traditions. The second year I did it, I struggled a bit to find my word. I knew my book would 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).

Eventually, 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 also wanted to release anger and judgement and outrage. I wanted 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 wanted to release some of my intensity because it can be quite exhausting to be me at times.


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

So… release. Before telling anyone about my word, I always roll it around my head for a few days, marinate it, make sure it was right.

I did release my book that year but I’m not sure how I went with some of those other things. It’s only in the last few weeks of 2019 that I really released my Trump fixation.

I can’t recall what my word was in 2018… so obviously that one didn’t really stick. Sometimes that happens. And sometimes, you lag a bit behind your word and you only realise that it’s seeped into you the following year. For 2019 my word was Impact. I decided I wanted to have more positive impact and less impact on those closest to me. My lack of ability to see consequences is something I’ve talked with my therapist a lot about this year and I’ve come to understand it as ‘impact blindness’ and I wanted to try and shift that or at least become more aware of it.


My family have shouted “impact” at me many times to try and keep me on course. And professionally, I wanted to have a positive impact with the launch and growth of Mamamia Courses, which has indeed flourished this year.

And 2020?

I thought my word was going to by joy right up until the moment I had to say it out loud on… Mamamia Outloud, the special episode we record right before we go off on our Christmas break where Holly, Jessie and I all share what our words are.

We never tell each other beforehand so it’s always a surprise. You can hear to that episode HERE

Listen to Mia, Holly and Jessie share their Word of the Year on Mamamia Outloud. Post continues below.

My word came to me while Jessie was talking about why she’d chosen her word and it felt immediately right (don’t be phased if you change your word, that’s why I like to usually think about it for a few weeks prior).



In 2020 I want to think about what I give my attention to. So often, I give too much attention to things that matter the least (Trump! My phone!) and not enough attention to the things AND PEOPLE who matter the most to me.

So at the very least I just want to start thinking of my attention like a resource, like money. And I want to be more mindful about how I spend it.

[Lol – as I’m writing this, on holidays with my family, my youngest son just came in the room and he wants to chat and I want to finish writing this – having my word at least has helped me notice it!]

I can’t tell you the difference in feeling when you pick a word rather than make a resolution. It’s soooo much more uplifting and positive. Like setting course rather than giving yourself an unpleasant job.

I’m now ready to meet 2020 with clear eyes and a full heart.

Oh – and feel free to use my word if it resonates with you.  There’s no copyright on this shit.

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

M xxxx

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