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Your Top 5 Professional New Year’s Resolutions

Turn this New Year into your most successful one yet by making these workplace resolutions. Ready, set, go, girl!

Another year has come and gone. Are you ready to make your professional News Year’s resolutions, or will they fizzle before you even get started?

If you find yourself starting and restarting the same resolutions each year, don’t beat yourself up. We’re here to help you improve your odds of maintaining your personal and professional resolutions. 

Keeping workplace New Year’s resolutions can take some practice, but just like in poker, a few small changes in your strategy can take your game to the next level. Remember to be flexible and to give yourself some grace. And when all else fails, try and then try again. 

Speaking up

Maggie Kuhn once wrote, “Speak your mind — even if your voice shakes.”

For many of us, speaking our minds can seem daunting. Whether we’re in a board meeting or responding through email, our reservations regarding how our opinions are received can stifle the desire to speak up entirely.  But knowing when, where, and how to speak up can instill confidence and steady our nerves.  

If you’ve found yourself in a discussion where opinions are welcomed, make your thoughts known. You’ll provide a different perspective and might change the course of the presentation with your creative thinking. But if you’re in a large department meeting where you’re uncomfortable providing direct feedback, know you can always pull someone aside to share your thoughts and add value that way. 

With so much of our interactions being virtual now, there’s an added hurdle to making our voices heard. In a recent survey of 1,100 adults working remotely, 45% of women who participated noted difficulties when speaking up, especially in a virtual capacity. Plus, one in five women say they’ve felt overlooked or ignored completely by colleagues during video calls.  

Though these numbers might raise a few eyebrows, they’re not surprising. Various studies have found that women are far more likely to be interrupted and their ideas are taken less seriously.  

So how do we fix this for the New Year? We take some advice from Melinda Gates who said, “Women speaking up for themselves and for those around them is the strongest force we have to change the world.”  Well, if not to change the world, at least to change the workplace. 

Speaking up in the office is a lot like playing poker. Knowing when to challenge your opponent is like knowing when to speak up to a co-worker or leader.  Remember to communicate confidently, assertively, and honestly. Speaking up is at the root of all change, including within organizations. When we don’t speak up for ourselves, we erode our sense of self-worth. 

If you find yourself shying away from this New Year’s workplace resolution, start small with friends and family. Give your honest opinion when the time is right, and your audience will appreciate it. Soon you’ll feel comfortable providing your opinion at work too. Remember that you won’t suddenly wake up with the deep desire to speak up, but if you’re mindful, you can approach this work resolution by finding fresh opportunities each day. 

Be empathetic

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Don’t get empathy and sympathy confused. Where empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, sympathy is a feeling of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.  

At the poker table, understanding where your opponent is coming from can give you an advantage because you’ll be able to better anticipate their basic strategy. Take this simple lesson into the office. This professional New Year’s resolution is an easy one to incorporate into your daily routine because it follows much of what we should already practice, to treat others the way you would want to be treated. Head over to our in-depth post at raising your emotional intelligence for more on that.

Quick decision-making

When you need to make a quick decision, poker can teach us about how to make a good one with limited information.  

Author and former professional poker player Annie Duke, who won more than  $4 million in tournaments, makes her decisions based on the three P’s: preferences, payoffs, and probabilities. Making better decisions involves shifting your mindset.

In the end, decisions are educated guesses. “The most useful way to think about a decision is that it’s a prediction of the future,” says Duke.  


They are unique to you, which means you can’t base your decision on what worked for someone else.


The next step is to measure the potential payoff, looking at how an outcome affects your progress toward or away from a goal.  


The final step is determining how likely each outcome is to occur. To figure out if a decision is good or bad, estimate the probabilities. With each decision, there is a certain amount of skill that goes into it, as well as a matter of luck. Like in poker, it’s the luck of the draw.

Don’t let your decision-making be a source of stagnation in the workplace. By delegating decisions and empowering employees to get things done, problems get solved quicker.

Taking things less personally

Practice controlling your emotions by understanding that it’s not always about you.  By remaining neutral, you can better navigate through criticism and feedback. For most of us, this takes practice. 

Learning to develop a poker face demonstrates to your co-workers and leadership that you can process feedback and move forward. At the poker table, you may take more than one bad beat, but you can’t be fazed, and remember, it’s never personal. With the New Year coming and resolutions being made for the workplace, we can all learn to be less sensitive and take things less personally

Being flexible

Flexibility in the workplace means being able to quickly adapt to new circumstances as they arise.  Last-minute shifts in your project? Don’t scrap all of your work. Instead, find what’s still useful and build on it. Your manager asks you to stay late to meet an important deadline? Embrace the opportunity to strut your skills and impress them with your can-do attitude. Change is inevitable and keeping calm while carrying on can be the sharpest tool in your workplace resolution toolbox yet. On the felt, you’re constantly engaging with a myriad of different players and each one brings new opportunities to strategize, allowing you to flex your dexterity while improving your game. The same goes for the workplace! 

Want more tips on keeping up with your professional New Year’s resolutions? Sign up for our free online poker classes and learn invaluable lessons from our experts.

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