How to Show Your Personality in an Interview (but Stay Professional)

Focus on your passions

When you’re going into an interview, you should always take some time to prep beforehand. However, you should be prepared to talk about more than just your professional experiences! “It is fair game for an employer to ask a student what are her hobbies [and] interests… these responses are a great way to highlight your personality,” says Junea Williams-Edmund, associate director of civic engagement in Barnard College’s Career Development office.

When preparing for your interview, think of a couple of extracurricular activities you’re involved in. Make sure to pick ones you’re really passionate about, so you can speak about them eloquently and show your dedication. “Highlight your extracurricular activities, whether on or off campus,” Williams-Edmund says.

Discussing the things you’re interested in that aren’t necessarily related to work will give the employer a good idea of who you are as a person. “Given that we spend a great deal of time with coworkers, employers know how important it is to identify employees who will gel well with others and bring value to the company [or] organization,” Williams-Edmund says. Preparing yourself to discuss your hobbies and interests will help you effectively communicate who you are as a person.

Use real-life examples

Interview questions like, “What’s your biggest strength?” and, “How have you overcome a challenge?” can be difficult to answer. When answering tough questions like these, it’s important to use concrete examples to elaborate on your answers. Just saying you’re organized or passionate isn’t enough; you need to provide an employer with proof. You can draw from professional experiences or situations you’ve encountered in your other involvements.

Williams-Edmund says you can show off your personality by “highlighting examples from your work in extracurricular activities, community service or similar tasks” when answering these kinds of tough questions. “Use personal stories, and when doing so, emphasize your interactions with others and/or ways you resolved a particular issue,” she says.

For example, let’s say your biggest strength is your ability to communicate effectively. It’s not enough to simply state that. Think about a time that you used your impressive communication skills to solve a problem. Maybe there was a time you disagreed with a group member about a project and you went out of your way to address the issue and come to an agreement. Tell an employer about this specific example to show him or her exactly how you would handle a situation at work.

Using real-life scenarios to answer questions will provide employers with a more complete sense of who you are, how you think and how you interact with others. Show them proof that you’re a fabulous collegiette and they’ll be dying to have you on the team!

Get de-stressed

One of the best ways to go into an interview feeling like yourself is to get in the right frame of mind. When you’re feeling anxious, it’s easy to trip up and present yourself in a way that isn’t necessarily representative of whom you really are.

According to Reyna Gobel, author of CliffsNotes Graduation Debt, “More important than the questions to show off your personality is the attitude you bring into the meeting.” So what does Gobel do before her own big meetings? “I make sure I smile first,” she says. “Then I’m in the right mood to enjoy myself and make sure the other person knows I want to be there.”

It may sound trivial, but your attitude and mindset will directly affect your ability to speak about yourself and convey your personality to an employer. Taking a minute before going into your interview to breathe deeply and just smile to yourself will make you feel so much better!

If that’s not enough to get you in a good mood, try jamming out to your favorite tunes before you head to the interview. Pharrell’s “Happy” is an obvious go-to, as well as Betty Who’s “Somebody Loves You.” Dance it out in your room, have a healthy snack or take a nice long bubble bath before getting ready for your interview. Do whatever makes you happy! You’ll relax and be able to show your stuff when the tough questions are thrown your way.

Find shared interests with your interviewer

Finding mutual interests with your interviewer makes it easy to express your personality while impressing him or her. Lesley Mitler, president of the career coaching service Priority Candidates, Inc., says, “Research the people you are meeting using social media… to identify commonalities.”

With Twitter and LinkedIn, it’s impossible not to find at least a little information about someone online. Do a quick search and see if you can find some interesting things you have in common.

If you manage to find some similarities between you and your interviewer, slip them into your conversation. It’s okay to say that you saw it online—it will actually be impressive that you’ve done some research for your interview, even if it feels a little creepy to you. You might be crossing a line if you can tell the interviewer his or her entire life story, but dropping one or two facts you found online will show you cared enough to do a little research.

If you can’t seem to find anything through social media, there are other ways to find commonalities during an interview. “Don’t just talk about yourself,” Mitler says. “Ask the interviewer questions that might unveil some similarities or common interests.” Asking things like “What drew you to this company?” or “Why did you choose a career in Industry X?” will show your interest and reveal some things about the employer.

Additionally, you can draw information from the interviewer’s office. Mitler says that asking about a vacation photo or interesting office décor will “show that you are interested and take a personal interest in the person you are meeting.” Asking about your interviewer is a great way to start a more natural conversation and express your personality.

Know the company

This is an essential interview tip every collegiette needs to know! Your interviewer is going to be looking for evidence that you really want the job. The best way to show that is to demonstrate a real interest in the particular company and the industry as a whole.

“Show your passion and interest in the job, company and industry by doing your research on current issues, trends [and] competitors,” Mitler says. “[Be] able to speak about the company and about how they fit into the competitive landscape.”

A simple way to keep up with a company is to follow it on Twitter or like it on Facebook as soon as you apply for a position, if not earlier. That way, you’ll keep up with what it’s doing without even trying. Being aware of anything from rebranding to a new CEO will show that you put in some effort and you care about the field.

Taking this step to learn about the company will always impress an interviewer. When you slip little tidbits you picked up about the company or the industry into your conversation, the interviewer will see you as a passionate, organized and truly dedicated candidate. Plus, you’ll be able to truthfully answer questions he or she might ask you relating to the company and position, such as why you wanted to apply there in the first place.

Keep your goals in mind

Employers are looking for specific information about you during an interview. “[Keep] in mind that the employer is analyzing your answers to see what type of person you are,” says Williams-Edmund. “Are you personable? Are you dependable? Can you work alongside teams and also work independently? Have you articulated a specific interest in working for that employer?” These are the kinds of questions employers are trying to answer through an interview.

You want to show off your personality in an interview, but you have to remember that you’re showing how you’d be a great for the job as well. An interviewer is not trying to figure out if the two of you could be best friends; he or she is trying to decide if you’re the right fit for a position at the company.

When preparing answers to interview questions, ask yourself if your answer shows that you’re outgoing, reliable, responsible and so on. You want to show an interviewer your professional personality. For example, talking about your volunteer work will show dedication, or explaining your role as your sorority’s social chair will show organization. If your answers demonstrate qualities like these, you’ll definitely show your interviewer what a qualified collegiette you are!

While it’s important to get along with whoever is interviewing you, the point of the interview is to show how well you could work at this company. You can be as hilarious and charming as you want, but if you don’t demonstrate an ability to thrive in a work environment, you’re wasting your time and your interviewer’s.

Interviews can be stressful, but don’t let your nerves get in the way of showing your personality. Use these tips to prepare yourself for your interviews and you’ll be able to show your interviewer who you really are. Just relax, be yourself and show the interviewer what you’ve got!


How to show your positive attitude to employers

Employers say they like to hire people with positive attitudes. They rate this employability skill so highly that you have a good chance of getting a job if you’re enthusiastic, even if you don’t quite have the required experience.

A positive attitude is more than just being cheerful and easygoing. It’s about being keen to take on the work you’re asked to do, being willing to try new things and not getting angry and defensive when you make a mistake.

How do you make your fantastic attitude and personality shine in your cover letter and CV, and during an interview?

Show your positive attitude in your cover letter

Your cover letter should shout out that you’ve got the skills for the job and you’d be a great person to work with. Here are some tips for showing your positive attitude in your cover letter.

  • Keep your words upbeat

Instead of: I’m interested in a role that uses my coding skills.

Use: I’m passionate about using my coding skills to create good programs.

  • Be enthusiastic about working for the employer

Instead of: I’m interested in the position of call centre operator.

Use: I’m excited to have the opportunity to use my experience in customer service to work as a call centre operator in your business.

  • Make sure your cover letter matches the job requirements

Show your positive attitude in your CV

Here are some tips for boosting your CV to make it reflect your personality.

  • Use positive action words

Instead of: I had to mow my neighbour’s lawns and do their gardens. The paths were swept and flowers put in and I cleaned up the plants and rubbish.

Use: Cleared, streamlined and maintained my neighbour’s garden, groomed their lawns and created flower beds.

  • Use examples of when you went the extra mile in the achievements or work history section.
  • Show you have a passion for something outside of work in the interests section.
  • Match up your CV with the job to show you really want it.

Show your positive attitude in your interview

Turn up to your interview with the attitude that you’re going to win them over, and don’t forget about these important tips.

  • Keep your head up – good posture and eye contact are a must.
  • Never badmouth your previous employer.
  • Ask questions about the work and show you know about the company and are interested in it.
  • Give examples of when you did something extra to get the work done, such as:

Tell us about a time when you went the extra mile…

I was asked to stay late when a busload of customers came into the cafe 10 minutes before closing. I stayed to help until they had all been served and then helped the cleaners for three hours. The boss was pleased and said I’d been friendly and welcoming even though I was about to finish my shift.


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Master the One-on-One Meeting

Whether you’re a CEO or a line manager, your team is just as important as a group as its members are as individuals. Today’s tech companies offer many perks to attract and retain the best employees. We offer competitive salaries, training and the promise of success—professionally and financially. But how we treat them as individuals can determine the way their DNA will impact the fabric of your organization. What are you doing, as their manager, to make sure they are satisfied and making the best contribution to your organization?

I have managed over 100 direct reports over the course of my career. From the nerdiest, most introverted engineer to the highly extroverted sales executive. They’ve been on either side of up to 20 years senior or junior to me, varying genders and from as far away as India and China to as near as the office next door. No matter what their role, experience, proximity or personality, I have always made their one-on-ones (1:1’s) a priority. Why are 1:1’s so important?

  • Whether it’s an hour a week or 30 minutes once a month, making time for an individual says you give a damn about them as a person.
  • The 1:1 is the only forum where you can have an honest, private, conversation with each other about what’s really going on—professionally and personally.
  • This is a routine opportunity for you, as a manager, to assess the parts (your employees) that lead to the productive whole (your team)—which we all know is more powerful than the sum of said parts.
  • A leader who makes time for their team members—especially those who are also leaders—is less likely to suffer poor team performance because of ambiguity and mistrust. Each 1:1 is an opportunity to clarify the goals of the organization, your performance expectations and build a trusting relationship with your employees by getting to know them as people, not just workers.
  • Finally, constructive 1:1s throughout the year makes performance reviews a breeze. With routine 1:1s, review time can be more about goals and the year ahead instead of constructive feedback from the past.

Don’t just schedule these important meetings with your direct reports, be thoughtful about how these sessions play out. Below is the guidance I give to new managers on conducting 1:1’s.

Be thoughtful about how your one-on-one meetings sessions might play out.Source: Yuri_Arcurs

Set expectations
Whether your employee has worked for you for awhile and you’re just kicking off 1:1s, or they are a new hire and you’re rolling them into the fold, set expectations up front.

  • I am a big believer in being clear about behavior changes. If this is a new process you are putting in place at your company/in your team, be transparent about it. Otherwise, people worry something bad is going to happen (getting fired) if you all of sudden start scheduling 1:1s. Announce it at a team meeting/all-hands or send out an email/slack being clear about why these are important to do.
  • This meeting is for them as much as it is for you. Be clear that you do this with all employees who work directly for you. No one is being singled out.
  • Book a regular cadence of 1:1s. They should not be ad-hoc. It’s ok to skip one every once and awhile, but having it locked into the calendar is your commitment to being there for your employee.
  • Decide the best cadence with them (weekly or every other week? 30 minutes or an hour?) and what the format should be—your office or theirs, a walk, or maybe grabbing coffee. Different formats work for different employees and they can always be changed as you get into a groove. [see below on remote employees]. Just don’t do after work drinks—that suggests a less serious discussion.

The agenda
If a meeting is important enough to have, it should have an agenda.

  • Topics in a 1:1 should be about professional growth, personal connection and for giving each other feedback. Do not use the meeting to re-hash things from a group meeting or standup unless there are specific things you took off-line in that meeting or need to provide/get constructive feedback.
  • 24 hours or so before the meeting, email the employee a list of what you’d like to cover. Try to do a split between strategic, tactical and personal items and always ask your employee what they want to cover too. For efficiency, let them know if you need them to bring/read/do something before the meeting. For example:

    Jessica, for our 1:1 tomorrow, I’d like to cover the following:

      • Review a potential change to the product roadmap for next quarter and how that might impact your team. Please bring the latest roadmap with you.
      • Walk through the training presentation deck you are preparing for your new hires. Please send me your latest version tonight if you can?
      • Get feedback on whether the budget changes I made for you were helpful. Let me know if there are new numbers I should look at before we meet.
      • Hear about your vacation! Your pics looked awesome.

    Let me know what else you’d like to cover. Looking forward to catching up!

The 1:1 meeting
With an agenda set and materials pre-reviewed/in-hand, you are ready for a productive session.

  • Walk through the agenda. Ask if there’s anything else to add before you dig in. Always leave a door open—sometimes an employee is holding back on something.
  • If there are hard things to discuss (maybe some tough performance feedback), try to bookend it with two positive topics. That way, the close of the meeting doesn’t leave your employee feeling down. You’ve given them good feedback and some things to work on.
  • Do not monopolize the conversation. This is for you each to get time to talk. Pause often and make sure there is opportunity for discussion and questions.
  • Always end the meeting asking them how things are going overall and if there is anything else you can do to make them successful. Sounds awkward, but that’s your job! If your employees are a success, you are success.

After the meeting
It is important to always follow up any 1:1 (or scheduled meeting, for that matter) with notes on what was discussed, decisions made and, if relevant, any constructive feedback that will be measured going forward. Keep it short and sweet:

Jessica, good meeting today! From what we discussed:

    • Sounds like the roadmap change won’t slip the schedule much. Please share the new schedule on slack so the team can digest it before our Product group meeting.
    • Love the training deck! Let me know if you want to practice with me before you present next week. You’re going to crush it.
    • Sounds like those budget tweaks aren’t cutting it for your team’s needs. I’ll try to adjust next quarter, but right now you are going to have to work with what you have. Manage your spend carefully.
    • Thanks for letting me know you’re working on a personnel issue on your team. Let me know if I can help. Otherwise, keep me posted on how it plays out.

A recap ensures that you’re both on the same page and it serves as an audit trail if/when anything goes off the rails. Do this with ALL your employees. Otherwise, some may wonder why they’re getting follow up emails and others are not. Consistency in leadership is critical!

Remote employees and non-Directs

  • 1:1s with remote employees can be tricky. I recommend using video whenever possible and, if possible, 1-2 in-person 1:1s a year to maintain the personal connection. All other suggestions above apply for the remote employee.
  • It is perfectly OK to have 1:1s with junior people who do not work directly for you. Just remember, you are NOT their manager. Be clear about why you are requesting the meeting.

    Perhaps you are the CEO and want to have a 1:1 with a lead engineer to get a better understanding of a product challenge:

    • Make sure the engineer’s manager knows why you want to have the meeting.
    • Make sure the engineer understands you would like to get the detail directly vs. through other people. You are not going around their boss who knows you are requesting this meeting.
    • Be very careful about feedback. Always end such meetings with next steps being how you’ll follow up with the employee’s manager if there are any action items. Never undermine someone’s manager by giving specific direction without consulting with their manager. Especially if you are the CEO/CTO or other senior position. Often, the most simple “that sounds cool” can be heard as “do it!” from someone more senior than your boss.

Invest in your team
One-on-ones can make all the difference in how you lead. Your time invested in doing them right will pay off not only with each individual, but with how your organization functions as a team.

Have other tips on running successful 1:1s or good lessons learned from not having them? Please share in the comments.

Reprinted with permission from the author’s blog post, Mastering the 1:1.

Original Article – Harvard Business School


Not Normal is the New Normal Video

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7 Things To Think About Before You Accept or Turn Down A Counteroffer

You sit down with your boss to tell her you’ve been offered a job elsewhere and that you’ll be leaving the company in a few weeks. It will probably be an awkward conversation—and it will become even more uncomfortable when she asks you to stay. She might offer you better incentives, like more money or a job promotion. But as enticing as the counteroffer may be, career experts say there are a few things you’ll need to think about before you accept.

Should I share details of the new job with my current employer?

Why did I start looking for a new job in the first place?

Will my job be on the line if I decide to stay?

How will I be treated if I accept the counteroffer and stay?

Do they really value me as an employee?

How can I turn down the job offer without burning bridges?

How can I turn down the counteroffer without burning bridges?

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How to respond to a counter offer

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10 Steps to Setting and Achieving Goals at Work

Make goal-setting an ongoing practice.

Setting goals at work is an interesting balancing act. On the one hand, your workplace goals must support the company mission. On the other hand, they must be your own. Otherwise, goal-setting is just a rote, check-the-box exercise.

An additional complication is that certain companies (and managers) are better at helping their employees set and achieve work goals than others. The good news is that even if you work for someone who approaches the annual goal-setting session as a necessary evil, there are things you can do to get some value out of it. If your manager genuinely understands the power of goal alignment and setting and achieving goals, you have a great opportunity to use the conversation as a starting point for career growth.

Here are 10 things to keep in mind before setting goals at work and filling out that goal sheet.

1. Get clarity on your team’s structure.

First things first – you must understand the functions and interrelationships of your team in order to set workplace goals that will make your team more productive and helpful to the rest of the organization. In a practical sense, every team serves as a supporting unit and a consumer of support at the same time. Get the mapping right, and you will be able to identify specific and measurable things you can do better to help processes and projects run smoother.

2. Talk to your boss. What can you do to make their job easier and make them look good?

No matter what your job description says, your job is really all about making your manager’s life easier. Think of it as an opportunity to be of service. Having a frank conversation about how you can support your boss will go a long way towards defining your workplace goals.

3. Focus on what you can control and have a plan for the rest.

For every workplace goal, there are factors you can control and factors that are out of your hands. Be clear on the distinction, and have a plan for what to do if the out-of-your-control factors don’t line up.

Imagine that you are a supervisor within an accounting department in a hospital. Let’s say you set a goal to shorten the month-end close timeline by 2 business days. Success will depend on the skill and collaboration of your accounting department (something you can contribute to and control), and on the ability of other departments to deliver critical data on time (something that is out of your control). It is smart to have a plan to coordinate the month-end close with other departments, remind them of the deadline and keep the communication lines open – but you must have a plan and an accountability agreement in the event they fail to deliver.

4. Think about your career path in the long run.

What is your ideal next professional role? What qualifications and skills do you need to qualify? Which success stories will make you a suitable and impressive candidate? Line up your personal goals for work in a way that allows you to gather those accomplishments and learn the skills.

5. Go beyond immediate tasks and think of the big picture.

Your growth as a professional is bigger than productivity and proficiency at your desk! Career progression often requires a broad scope of skills and experiences. Add professional seminars and other educational opportunities to your goal list, because continued learning is critical to your ability to expand your responsibilities and get promoted.

If you would like to move into a VP or a C-suite role in the future, consider looking at rotations in other departments. The knowledge of how different parts of the company fit together will prove useful and may set you apart from competing candidates.

Finally, if you see yourself growing into a management or client-facing role, Toastmasters is a fantastic way to sharpen your public speaking skills.

6. Get clarity on what goal achievement would look like.

You know the basics: a good workplace goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Go beyond those basics and visualize what goal achievement would look like. Would it make a particular project flow easier? Would it allow the team to work together more effectively? The image of a goal achieved will keep you motivated.

7. Schedule periodic check-ins.

The act of setting work goals is not limited to one conversation at the start of the performance period. Any plan must be flexible in order to retain its usefulness, and professional goals are no different. Sit down with your manager to talk about status and progress throughout the year. These conversations can be formal and regular (at the end of every quarter) or more ad-hoc. No matter which frequency you choose, the important thing is to keep the communication channel open, so that your goal plan can adapt to reflect today’s reality and priorities.

8. Ask for support if you need it.

Superstar performers in sports and at work don’t have to do it alone. Moreover, they know that they can achieve more and do it quicker with the help of a mentor or a coach. If you wanted to get better at golf, you would probably hire an instructor who would help you improve your swing. Your career is no different. Look for allies, both within your company and outside of it, and build a network of professionals who care about your success. Talk to them, ask for advice and listen carefully.

9. Do a periodic comparison of your annual goals with your to-do list.

Setting goals at work is great for mapping out big-picture targets and wins for the year. The unfortunate reality is that fire-drills and urgent reassignments can make it difficult to focus on the things that everyone had agreed were important. Continued professional education is a good example. Everyone knows it is valuable for your expertise and proficiency. It is also a requirement for retaining many professional certifications and licenses. However, continued education so often falls by the wayside because of client demands, deadlines and last-minute assignments. If you have ever had to cram a year’s worth of education credits in the last three weeks of the year, you are in good company.

So, do a periodic check of how well your daily to-do list aligns with your big-picture workplace goals. If the two have nothing to do with each other, talk to your manager and take action.

10. Track your accomplishments.

We have all been there – as you’re preparing for your annual evaluation (or revising your resume for your job search), you draw a complete blank on your past accomplishments. You know you have been busy, and your manager is generally happy with your work, but you cannot name a single specific success over the last year.

The lesson here is that it can be difficult to recall success details at the end of the performance period. After all, you have a full year of projects to think through! Save yourself the trouble and keep a running list of your wins (a simple Word or Excel document will do just fine). List everything from meeting regular deadlines to stepping in to help with an urgent research project, to completing successful client pitches and presentations.

In closing, remember that setting goals for work is best when it is an ongoing practice. Do yourself a favor and treat it as a conversation that never stops. Every time you get a new assignment, ask your manager to clarify expectations. What does he hope to accomplish through your work? Where does he anticipate difficulties? What is the timeline, and why is this project important? After the project is wrapped up, have a conversation to debrief and talk about what went well and what could have been done better. Many professionals are apprehensive of performance discussions, but the truth is that you can only get better if you know what skills and habits need more work. Keep the communication lines open, and you will set yourself up for more interesting work and a faster career progression in no time.


10 Ways to Sleep Better Tonight – with Lewis Howes


Why I Wake Up at 5 am (And Maybe You Should too)

Imagine this….it’s cold, raining, and pitch black outside.

Your alarm clock goes off…it’s 5 am and you are trying to wake up two hours earlier than you ever have in your life.

It’s day one of this new ritual….you’re pissed. You’re just not having it at this ungodly hour.

You think to yourself…I could get up and start my day or I could just go back to sleep.

You’re at a crossroads.

This is when the excuses come into your head while you’re laying there….

  • “I’m just not a morning person.”
  • “My bed is way too warm.”
  • “It’s cold and raining out.”
  • “I don’t even have clean gym clothes.”
  • “I’m way too busy today.”
  • “I guess I’m just  a night owl.”

And the excuses continue….

Guess what? They will continue to happen that way unless you get ahead of your excuses.

The truth is successful people wake up early.

“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” – Jim Rohn

Benjamin Franklin, Howard Schultz, Grant Cardone, Barack Obama, Richard Branson, Dwayne the Rock” Johnson, and Tim Cook just to name a few.

Model your life based on the success of others.

The average US person wakes up between 6-730am. If you’re able to get up at 5 or 530am you will have 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time.

With a head start on the rest of the country you get to decide what you want to do with your time.

You get to take back your time.

The mornings are time for you to be selfish. Besides, self-improvement is a selfish activity!

We have been taught to think of selfishness as unhelpful but unless you take care of yourself you won’t be as good to others.

When you focusing on habits of self-improvement you will slowly become the best version of yourself…which in turn leads to being better for everyone else as well.

You simply can’t love and connect with others until you love and connect with yourself first.

Waking up early is a great time to be selfish for all the right reasons.

Benefits of the Dreaded 5 a.m. Hour

Are there really benefits to waking up early? Won’t you be tired and not be able to make it through the entire day?

This what I thought before I realized the power of waking up early.

Instead of “barely making it through the day” it had the opposite effect. I have more energy and drive than I ever did waking up at 7am.

You will find that by the time you arrive at work you are calmer, have more clarity and ready to take on any challenges the day presents.

1. Being Awake Early Allows you to Have a few Rare Moments of Solitude and Quiet Time

The best part of waking up at 5 am is the quiet time.

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” – Albert Einstein

No one else is awake yet and you can have peaceful, quiet, and most importantly, uninterrupted time with your thoughts.

This makes the mornings a great time to focus on your goals or meditate to clear your mind before starting the day.

2. Rising Early Forces you to Plan Your Days Ahead of Time 

You need to have a reason to get up or your body will want to go back to sleep.

The chances of you getting up before the sun without a plan is slim to none.

Each night before I go to bed I know exactly what my morning routine will be the first hour of each morning. The main goal is to create consistent, positive habits that will put me in a place to succeed the rest of the day.

Eventually, I have made this habit a routine so that it’s automatic, I know exactly what I’m doing each morning.

Find something you love to do. This could be walking your dog, going on a light jog, reading, or meditating.

3. Waking Up at 5 a.m. Allows You to Journal Your Thoughts with Greater Clarity 

Daily journal writing is one the simple ways to create more discipline in your life.

As soon as I wake up I start writing in my journal.

Once you get up from sleep your conscious mind awakes, but don’t forget the subconscious mind never sleeps and has been brainstorming your problems all night long.

Before I go to bed each night I make sure to ask myself something I have not been able to figure out.

As soon as you wake up start writing about the problem you were facing and see what comes out. Don’t worry about legibility or sentence structure. Focus on writing until you can’t write anymore to find clarity and a solution to your problem.

4. Rising Early Allows you to Tackle the Hardest Tasks First 

The early mornings are the best time to take on the hard stuff.

Don’t waste your mornings on pointless tasks like clearing your inbox or organizing your desk.

“The fundamental level of success is doing the hard things first. If you go for the feared thing first then the rest of the day is easy.” ~Robert G Allen

This is time to focus on deep work. With no distractions or notifications, you can truly focus on the most important work you need to do.

This could be working on your toughest problem, developing a new habit or working on your biggest project.

I have used the mornings as a way to create the habit of journaling and repeating my daily affirmations. Previously I tried to do at night but constantly forgot or found myself inconsistent.

Getting a positive, efficient start to your day will build momentum and stay with you throughout the day. Even if you get sidetracked later in the day you achieved the most important and toughest work already.

5. You Can Start Your Day from a Centered State without Feeling Rushed 

How awful is it when you bash the snooze button only to wake up late…all of a sudden you have the “oh shit” moment. You quickly shower, grab a coffee and run off to work.

Feeling rushed is a horrible way to start your day. By getting up early you will feel less rushed and you give you time to be organized. It’s ok if you run late every once in awhile you’re human, but if you are constantly late it’s a habit. It’s one that isn’t effective or polite for family, friends, or your boss.

Sleeping in usually leads to rushed, frantic mornings where it will be easy to skip the gym or go to work unprepared.

6. Rising Early Allows you to Prioritize Exercise 

Morning exercise is beneficial for so many reasons but the main one is is simply getting it out of the way.

If you can workout in the morning you won’t be tempted between happy hour and the gym after a long day at the office.

It’ll be very hard to be a strong grounded man if you’re not making a habit of lifting weights, running, or whatever workout you prefer.

7. Waking Up at 5 a.m. Cultivates the Habit of Discipline 

“Discipline equals freedom.” – Jocko Willink

When you’re consistently getting up early you are creating a habit of discipline in your life.

Not only will you have more time in the morning this habit of discipline will spill into other areas of your life.

You will also build confidence in your own willpower. If you can get out of bed when its dark, rainy and cold you are proving to yourself you can do anything.

As Jim Rohn said, “Discipline is the bridge between goal and accomplishments.”

8. Waking Up Early Allows you to Accomplish More During Your Day

Simply put, waking up early gives you more hours in the day. Waking up early will give you the most productive and energetic part of your day back in your life.

“You have 24 hour hours in a day, you sleep six of them. Now you have 18 hours left.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Your mind and body are ready to function at peak levels, get some coffee or take a shower to activate everything.

Most of the time evenings are rarely the most productive for even night owls.

The majority of people spend their evenings mindless watching TV, scrolling through their feed and doing stuff around the house. Obviously, this is because we use the majority of our energy throughout the day.

By waking up early you will be structuring your day around the peaks of energy.

Your new wake up doesn’t have to be 5 am automatically, especially if you’re in the 730-8am range right now. By eliminating 2-3 hours of sleep overnight you are setting yourself up for failure.

You need to create this habit and be very intentional with your goal.

Here’s how…

How to Successfully Transition Into Waking Up at 5 a.m.

1. Create a Night Time Routine

Getting up earlier is all about creating a great plan.

If you are waking up at 7 am now and want to try 5 am tomorrow doing it cold turkey, without a plan will make it nearly impossible.

“He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” — Sir Winston Churchill

If you want to actually get up and get going in the 5am range you will have to start winding down earlier. Create a routine that you will adhere to every single night.

Waking up early is horrible at first and you will find a way to make plenty of excuses to sleep in. Minimize these negative thoughts by planning ahead.

  • Lay out your gym clothes or running shoes
  • Have a book or journal in a place where you see it instantly
  • Position your phone or alarm clock far enough away to where you have to actually get out of bed.
  • Have your coffee or energy supplement ready to go

2. Turn Off Your Electronics

Before bed try to avoid electronics for the last 30-60 minutes of the day. Every hour you are exposed to your phone you stop melatonin production which is key to getting sleep.

3. Visualize Your Success  

Studies have shown that when Olympic athletes visualize for one hour it’s equivalent to seven hours of physical practice.

As you begin to wind down before bed and put away electronics spend 5-10 minutes using various visualization techniques.

Some people will write out their visualizations while others will sit in a dark room and actually image their goals as being complete. Whatever method you choose the important part is that you visualize yourself already feeling your goals as accomplished.

If you’re not the most visual person find images of the car you want to buy, the house you want to own or the body you want to achieve. These images will be fresh in your head when you go to sleep and your brain will help find ways to achieve them while you sleep.

4. Focus on Your Breathing

If you’ve had a long day the last thing you want to do is go to bed mad, frustrated, or in a bad mood. Focus on your breathing patterns to change your physiology so you can go into bed relaxed instead of lying awake, thinking of your problems.

5. Express Gratitude

“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” ~Zig Ziglar

As best selling author and KFM guest, Lewis Howes, talks frequently about the importance of gratitude before going to bed. He makes it a point to tell his girlfriend or someone in his life how much he appreciates three things before hitting the pillow.

Final Thoughts

“Each morning we are born again, what we do today is what matters most.” – Buddha

It’s empowering feeling to wake up before the rest of the world has hit the snooze button three times.

Waking up at 5 a.m. might be the worst idea ever only if you don’t have a plan for the early hours. You owe it to yourself to try waking up earlier, even if you’re not ready for 5 a.m. yet.

There is no need to wait until 2018 to create a resolution either. As you know, most resolutions fail.

Instead, make waking up early a ritual for December as you will inevitably eating and drinking more for the holidays. Stay ahead of the calories by waking up earlier and getting into the gym.

Yes, it will be dark and cold, but once you hear that alarm get out of bed and start making your life happen.

I promise it will be worth it. Form your “resolution” a month before everyone else and see how much your life changes.

by Michael Leonard

Swift Momentum Charity Day

Swift Momentum & The Playstation are teaming up to give back to the Cape Town community.

The Sponsors

Swift Momentum

Swift Momentum will be sponsoring the party packets, face painting and transport for the children to the venue.

The Playstation

The Playstation will be sponsoring the venue, 1 session inside the park and an awesome time.


The Run4Schools Foundation

The Run4Schools Foundation started more than a decade ago in township Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. Founder is Leslie Pangemanan from The Netherlands, an experienced Two Oceans Ultrarunner (14x). The Run4Schools program runs at – what’s in a name – three primary schools: Alpine, Northwood and Tafelsig and soon to be one high school. Activities like sports, dance and singing during and at the end of the school day, keep children sheltered from gangsterism and crime infesting the local communities. Over 5000 learners are participating in the Run4Schools programmers. Through their programmer, the children have developed more self-esteem, motivating them to finish school and simply have more fun and joy in their lives. Thanks to their dedicated coaches, volunteers, events, partnerships and runners like you.

Swift Momentum & The Playstation are teaming up to give back to the Cape Town community.

The Sponsors

Swift Momentum

Swift Momentum will be sponsoring the party packets, face painting and transport for the children to the venue.

The Playstation

The Playstation will be sponsoring the venue, 1 session inside the park and an awesome time.


The Run4Schools Foundation

The Run4Schools Foundation started more than a decade ago in township Mitchells Plain, Cape Town. Founder is Leslie Pangemanan from The Netherlands, an experienced Two Oceans Ultrarunner (14x). The Run4Schools program runs at – what’s in a name – three primary schools: Alpine, Northwood and Tafelsig and soon to be one high school. Activities like sports, dance and singing during and at the end of the school day, keep children sheltered from gangsterism and crime infesting the local communities. Over 5000 learners are participating in the Run4Schools programmers. Through their programmer, the children have developed more self-esteem, motivating them to finish school and simply have more fun and joy in their lives. Thanks to their dedicated coaches, volunteers, events, partnerships and runners like you.