Looking For Success At Work And In Life? It Takes Smart Moves

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Téa Angelos is a visionary on a mission.

Educated in both business and the law, she has multiple options for her own career. Sign up with a big corporation and get lost in the crowd? Nope. Her quest is to help people one at a time.

So, what is she doing and how is she doing it?

She’s founder and CEO of Smart Women Society (SWS). It’s one of the largest and fastest-growing online platforms helping a thriving community of more than 400,000 women get smarter about their money, careers, wellbeing, and relationships.

This isn’t some dare-to-be-fabulous scheme fueled by rah rah cheerleading. SWS features online courses and other solid resources to help women (and men) navigate life successfully.

Angelos recently released her book Smart Moves: Simple Ways to Take Control of Your Life. It’s earning accolades around the world for its practical, no-nonsense approach to common challenges.

For example, if you’re in a job interview, what questions should you be prepared to ask?

“At the end of a job interview, the interviewer will often invite you to ask questions,” Angelos says. “You should use this opportunity strategically to show that you’re genuinely interested in the role and the company, as well as to determine if the job aligns with your goals and values.”

She says questions you might consider are What does a typical day in this role look like? What are some of the growth opportunities in this role? and What is your favorite thing about working here?

These questions will help you understand more about the company, the role and its responsibilities, as well as any points that were not already discussed in the interview. Prepare a few questions before your interview and ask the most relevant ones based on your discussion with the interviewer.

Another important job-related interview is the one you have when leaving a position.

Aside from “don’t burn any bridges,” what advice does Angelos have for how to resign from a job before leaving for a new one?

“Whether you love or hate your existing role or manager, resigning from your job can feel daunting,” she says. “I know it is easier said than done, but try not let your emotions get the better of you. Resigning on good terms will give you confidence during the transition that you have made the right decision and are closing the chapter on that previous role.”

She recommends scheduling a meeting (preferably in person) to share the news with with your manager. “If you experience any pushback, stay calm, polite and keep it as brief as possible,” she advises. “Submit a formal resignation letter, which includes key details like your last day of work. Before finishing off at the company, assist with handing over your work and projects to your team or the next person taking your job.”

What about that bridge-burning thing? “As tempting as it may be to bad mouth your employer, stay professional and end things on good terms,” Angelos says. “You never know when you will cross paths with or need to reconnect with colleagues and mentors again. People move around in their careers, so staying connected may lead to your next big role or help you find employees when you become a manager yourself. Get people’s personal email addresses and connect with them on LinkedIn to stay in touch.”

As eager to please as good employees tend to be, there are some occasions when it’s simply smart to say no to a workplace request. Angelos offers tips on how to do it without coming across as impolite, insubordinate, uncooperative, or otherwise unprofessional.

“Learning when to say no is one of the most important skills to acquire in the workplace,” she says. “Not only does it protect you from being overworked and taken advantage of, but it also helps protect the passion and drive you have for your job. Too often, eager employees are cursed with saying yes to everything, leading them to be exhausted, frustrated and resenting the job which they once loved.”

She suggests a number of situations where you should consider saying no

  • When the task interferes with your actual responsibilities
  • The deadline is unrealistic
  • You’re on leave
  • You’re being taken unfair advantage of
  • You are not qualified (or the best qualified) to complete the task
  • You’re asked to do something unethical or unsafe

“Getting comfortable with saying no to your boss, colleague or client takes practice,” she says. “Be polite and don’t over-explain yourself. A simple ‘I don’t have capacity at the moment’ or ‘I’m on leave that day, so won’t be able to assist’ is sufficient. You are setting a boundary to protect your time and energy, so be confident and stay firm if there’s any pushback. Having a strong understanding of why you are saying no to the request will allow you to do so with conviction.”

Some conversations at work (and elsewhere, of course) can be uncomfortable and even risky. Angelos offers tips for handling them well.

There will be many times throughout your career when you’ll need to have those scary conversations,” she says. “Whether you’re asking for a pay rise, raising a complaint, or advocating for a change, these conversations all require planning, execution and accountability. Prepare and practice what you want to say beforehand and be clear on the result or outcome that you’re seeking. Find the right time to have the conversation and be open to discussion with the other party. Always focus on coming to a solution and be sure to follow up and check in once the conversation is over.”

Most everyone makes occasional mistakes at work. An important thing is how one bounces back from a mistake.

“Making a mistake at work can take a toll on your self-confidence and have you questioning your ability in your job,” Angelos says. “Recovering from a mistake can take time, but being able to bounce back will boost your confidence and allow you to grow both personally and professionally. You will make plenty of mistakes over your career, no matter what rank or stage you are at, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the mistake cycle and embrace the situation as a learning opportunity instead of a set-back.”

Here are the steps she suggests:

  1. Accept the mistake. Don’t beat up on yourself.
  2. Own up to your mistake. Be honest and tell your manager what has happened.
  3. Focus on the solution. How can you fix the mistake or mitigate the damage caused?
  4. Learn from the experience. What can you do differently next time so this doesn’t happen again?

It’s not uncommon for people to find themselves feeling “stuck” in their job. If that happens to you, how can you manage the situation?

“Start by finding the root cause of the problem,” Angelos advises. “Dig deep and reflect on the reasons you feel stuck. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to evaluate your options. Is there a new team or project internally that you can try, or do you need to start applying for new roles? Speak with people, both internally and externally, to learn about what they do and about their career pathways. This can help you figure out what may be the best next step for you.”

For some people the performance review can be scary. But how you receive—and act on—feedback can play a significant role in your workplace success.

Performance reviews are one of the most important communication tools that both you and your manager can utilize,” Angelos says. “It’s important to understand that these reviews are not just about your performance. They’re also a chance for you to set goals with your manager and underscore mutual accountability in the relationship.”

Pro tips: Be open-minded when receiving feedback and be willing to accept constructive criticism so you can improve and develop. Use this time to reflect on any feedback and set goals with your manager on how you can level up and grow in your role.

For workers in virtually every line of business, burnout seems is a growing problem, and it seems to sneak up on people. What do Angelos see as the early signs of burnout, and what does she recommend as steps to avoid or overcome it?

“Burnout is more than just feeling stressed,” she says. “It has a wider spread of harmful impacts on our lives. Some early signs of burnout include physical and mental exhaustion, a growth in negativity about our lives and a reduction in our confidence and self-belief in the path we’re on. It’s our body’s way of telling us that we’ve reached our limit and now we need to rest. It’s important you keep an eye out for any of these warning signs that you may be burnt out.”

Angelos points out that the effect of burnout can be prolonged and severe. It typically has a negative impact on people’s moods, energy levels and productivity. “Burnout can also directly impact the people around you, putting strain on your relationships with your friends, family and co-workers,” she says. “During periods of burnout, we are unable to perform at our best and all aspects of our lives begin to suffer.”

So, what’s a smart approach to burnout?

“Managing and overcoming burnout isn’t always straightforward,” Angelos says. “Because it’s often caused by a combination of factors, recovery from burnout is also an incremental process and requires change across various parts of your life. It’s important to first understand the root causes of your burnout. For example, struggling to say no at work, and then adopt strategies and habits that directly target these causes.”

She says some activities to help in overcoming burnout include setting boundaries, practicing self-care, getting enough sleep, switching off from technology, and spending more time with uplifting, supportive people.

“No matter what specific activities you choose to implement, the most crucial aspect is ensuring that you stick to them consistently over a period of time,” Angelos says. “A weekend away is not going to fix your burnout if you’re returning to the same routine and environment that put you there in the first place. As always, set your goals and keep yourself accountable for putting your burnout recovery plan into place.”

Angelos has hundreds of thousands of people looking to her for career and life counsel. What’s the one piece of advice she believes is appropriate for everyone?

Shoot your shot.

“How many times have you talked yourself out of a potential opportunity because you didn’t feel worthy or experienced or qualified enough? But if you never go for what you want, you’ll never have it,” she says. If you never push yourself out of your comfort zone, you’ll never grow. If you don’t ask, the answer will always be no.

“Imagine how much you could achieve if you weren’t afraid of failure, or other people’s opinions, or feeling embarrassed,” she says. “Stop creating roadblocks for yourself. Your potential is infinite. Feel that fear and hesitation and do it anyway. Write that email. Send that message. Make that phone call. Ask that question. Don’t sit and wait for opportunities to come your way. Take charge and create them for yourself.

Angelos acknowledges that “shooting your shot” isn’t always easy. “It will be scary, nerve-wracking, and uncomfortable,” she says. “But don’t let the temporary discomfort override the possibility of a life-changing win. You might fail the first time or even the tenth time, but that eleventh attempt will make it all worth it. Reframe failure as re-direction and trust that you are on the path to exactly what is meant for you. Keep backing yourself, no matter how many tries it takes.”



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