The Most Powerful Way Conquer Your New Year’s Resolutions

“January 1 signifies a new beginning. However, each day allows for a new beginning, and hence it is a reset.” – Dr. Roberta Anding

We, humans, are quite odd creatures.

Year in, year out, just like clockwork we get this urge to reinvent ourselves.

Some, consciously decide what they want to pay attention this year (priorities). While others even though they do not make a conscious decision what are their priorities for the year, it lies somewhere in the back of their head.

For some reason, we love the idea of a new beginning. A New Year is just like a checkpoint in a game, and it makes us think that things can be different now. They can, but they usually aren’t that much.

We love the idea of improvement, and this motivates us, but most people are not ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate.

According to research (by Statistic Brain Research Institute), most common New Year Resolutions are:

  • Lose weight/healthier eating
  • Life/self-improvements
  • Better financial decision
  • Quit smoking
  • Do more exciting things
  • Spend more time with family/close friends
  • Work out more often
  • Learn something new on my own
  • Do more good deeds for others
  • Find the love of my life
  • Find a better job


However, the surprising fact is that just 8% of people achieve their New Years Resolutions by the end of the year.

The interesting part is that most of these resolutions tend to be identical from the previous year.

Only the last digit of the year changes.

Here are the five reasons why people do not follow on their New Year Resolutions:

1. Operating on a short-term mindset (wanting results as soon as possible)

2. Not having action plan

3. Focusing on too many things we want to change

4. Starting with a habit that is too big

5. Thinking of New Year Resolutions as things we do, not things we are


Okay, but how do we fix it? 

Now, that is the right question.

Below is a simple five-step plan that will help you conquer your New year resolutions:

1. A Year In Review

2. Mindset Shift: Whom do you want to be in a year?

3. A Theme For The Year

4. Keystone Goal

5. How to Follow Through


Sounds good? (or to be more accurate, looks good?)

Let’s take just one at the time (like you would do with your New Year Resolutions).

First, let’s reflect.


1. A Year In Review


The great philosopher, Alan Watts once said:

“…tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.”

To make sure you have the right priorities for the year ahead, first, you should see how did the previous year go, and reflect back on everything you have experienced, achieved and discovered so that you can create a perfect closure.

Here are the several points you should reflect upon.

General reflection about the year

If you had to describe these previous 12 months, in a sentence, what would that sentence be?

Significant events

Ask yourself, what one event, big or small, that happened is something that you will still talk about in 5 years?

Biggest accomplishment

What single achievement are you most proud of? Moreover, why?

Challenges you encountered

What were the challenges you have faced, both in personal, and professional life?

Learning lessons

What are the most important lessons you have learned in 2016? Not only that but how did you grow? How did it make you wiser?


Who were your go-to people that you could always rely on?

Most common mental state this year

What was it? Excitement? Curiosity? Enthusiasm? What triggered them? When were you euphoric?

Me on the 1st of January 2016 vs. me right now

How would you describe yourself now, compared to the beginning of last year?


What, or who, are you most grateful for?


Here you can find a detailed process. 

2. Mindset Shift: Whom do you want to be in a year? 


“Life is a journey, not a destination.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson


If you have ever played a game, you know that to go to the next level; you have to do what’s in your power to make your character better.

Of course, you do not have to. You can proceed to the next level, but it will be more challenging, like playing on a hard mode.

Every year of our life offers the same opportunity.

The first step is to gain clarity on whom do you want to be.

This way every action you take, will not be something you do, but something you are.

Finish this sentence: 

By the end of this year, I am….


Now, let’s take care of how will you become that person.

3. Set A Theme For The Year


“The days are long, but the years are short.” – Gretchen Robin

Once you have an idea whom do you want to be in a year, you should define a theme for the year.

This will serve you as a guiding star.

Imagine if this year you continue doing everything you normally do, but your health becomes the primary focus, and you do everything in your power to bring it to an optimum level.

Next year, you add another theme, maybe learning a new language, like Spanish. However, you keep up with the habits you had established in a year before when health was your theme.

By doing this, in a couple of years, your health will be at an ideal level, and you will be able to speak fluently in another language.

Just imagine how many opportunities that will open once you are energetic, vibrant and confident with your body, plus you can communicate with over 300 million people with your newly acquired skill in Spanish.

If this can be done in 2-3 years, imagine what can be done in a span ten years by repeating this strategy, compared to trying too many new things every year, where progress will be minimal.

Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project, is probably one of the best examples of how this can work.

One rainy afternoon, while riding a city bus, Gretchen Rubin asked herself, “What do I want from life, anyway?” She answered, “I want to be happy”—yet she spent no time thinking about her happiness.

In a flash, she decided to dedicate a year to a happiness project. The result? One of the most thoughtful and engaging works on happiness to have emerged from the recent explosion of interest in the subject.

Moreover, the best thing about is, that focusing on her happiness, it not only made her happy, but it affected every area of her life, both personal and professional. Plus, it made her the best-selling author.

I read this book back in 2014 and decided to do the same thing.

Here’s how it looked like for me:

  • 2014 – Theme: Health (reach optimal body state)
  • 2015 – Theme: Financial Independence (become fully financially independent without debts)
  • 2016 – Theme: Take Action Towards My Passion (start a project based on my passion and skills)
  • 2017 – Theme: Financial Freedom (continue to build my business and reach financial freedom)

Of course, each year I had more goals, to travel, learn new skills and meet new people.

However, whenever I was in doubt, I would go back to the theme and start from there.

Moreover, once you move on to the next year (theme), the habits you have established in the previous year will become part of who you are, and your task is just to be consistent with them, and add the new theme.

To define your theme, ask yourself following:

What should be the theme of 2017 that will bring me closer to the person I want to become? 

Give yourself a couple of minutes to reflect, and then write it down.

Next step is to specify this further, so have a clear path ahead of you.

4. What is your top focus for the year? 


“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” – J.P. Morgan

Once you have clarity on the theme for the year ahead, next step is to develop a strategy that will help you achieve results.

You should start off by setting your keystone goal for the year that represents the core of your theme.

Moreover, then define two-three projects you need to focus on to accomplish this goal.

Here’s how you set your goal and projects.


  • I have lost 10lbs (5kg) by 5th of May.


  • Test couple of diets until you find a perfect diet for yourself
  • Find a physical activity that suits you (gym, yoga, jogging, and so forth.)

Once you define your goal, and projects. Next step is to identify what high leverage activities you need to focus on; that will give you desired results. Because not all activities bring you the biggest return on the investment.

To make this easier, I suggest you ask yourself:

Which activity in each project would get me closer to my goal?

Once you define these things, this will become your strategy.

Just, remember that we often go blindly towards our goals, without stopping to evaluate whether or not they are still right for us, and whether or not we need to shift our strategy based on new circumstances.

This will make sure that you remain on the right path.

5. How To Follow Through 


“There’s a six-word formula for success: Think things through, then follow through.” – Eddie Rickenbacker

Here you will find certain principles you should have in mind; that will help you follow through your  New Year Resolutions.


Making small continual improvement every day will be compounded over time, and give them desirable results. That is why you should focus on the day that’s ahead of you, and improve just 1%.

There will be days where your circumstances will not allow you to commit to your goals, but you can still do just a small step to ensure that you remain consistent.



Even though we should strive not to depend on external validation, being acknowledged for your goals is crucial to sustaining your habits and gain motivation.

Let me give you my example.

My article “A 5-Step Plan That Landed Me A Promotion And 40% Raise…” got me 436 views in total.

I spent more than a week writing it. I felt so demotivated that it took me over two weeks to get back to writing.

On the other hand, my article: “13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful” had over 5 million views. Which gave me the biggest drive I have had in my life.

In between, there were more than ten articles that got me acknowledgement, and help me maintain motivation.


Social Pressure

Once you state your goals and projects publicly to your family and friends, in the moments when you want to quit or postpone something, this will keep you going, because you will not want to go back on your word. However, it should not be the only thing you rely on.

Support System

To set yourself for success you need to let people close to you know that you will need their support. It is like having a spotter in a gym. Someone who will make sure you are accountable for your goals.

Evaluate and adapt

As mentioned earlier, stopping every once in a while to see where do you will help you see whether or not you are on the right track.

Ideally, you would want to do this once a week, to see progress towards your goals.


Celebrate successes

We live in a dynamic environment, and because things move rapidly, we do not stop to see what have we are accomplished. That is why its important to celebrate your successes between milestones. Don’t wait for the goal to be finally completed;

Be grateful 

No matter the positive or the negative things you encounter on the way, it will shape you.

For the positive, you should be grateful for, for the negative you need to find a way to learn from them because they might be a blessing in disguise, which will you help you in the future goals.





No matter where you are right now with your New Year Resolutions. Whether or not you are still on track, or you feel like you failed, it does not matter.

As the quote in the beginning by Dr. Roberta says each day allows for a new beginning, and hence it is a reset.

So today you can decide to start over again, and now you have a strategy that will help you set yourself for success.

Focus on the present, and what you can do today to get closer to the person you want to become, and the goals you want to achieve.


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Author: Zdravko Cvijetic

Zdravko Cvijetic, the founder of Zero To Skill, creates practical content, ranging from articles, e-guides, and courses, that will help you become a top performer, by gaining clarity on your life path, mastering your habits and becoming 3x more productive. With a degree in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, he was able to create content that has influenced more than 100.000 people.

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A Guideline To The Perfect Closure Of The Year

The great philosopher, Alan Watts once said:

“…tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.

The second half of the December, somehow naturally puts us in a reflective mood. Some questions appear that help us decipher how did the year go, and did we make the best out of it. However, we rarely utilize this reflective mode, we just kind of ease into the year, and then the momentum kicks in, and before you know, it feels like we hibernated the entire year.

That is why, this year, you should invest a couple of hours to reflect, and look back at everything you have experienced, achieved and discovered during the last 12 months so that you can have a perfect closure.

These couple of hours just might turn out to be the most valuable hours for the year 2017, because you will have a perfect direction on what needs to be improved.

First, there some things you should have in mind, to be fully prepared. 


Keep your schedule for these couple of hours clean. Finish everything for the day, including work, meetings, and try to detach from everything that happened that day.

Find a journal, a piece of paper or you can just use your phone, although I suggest that you turn off the phone and internet, so it does not disturb your focus.

You can stay at home, or go someplace quiet. In either way, have some food and drinks, get in your comfortable clothes, and relax.

Turn on some music, something that resonates with you, let it play in the background, and slowly start looking at the questions I have added below, think about them, and then write.

Write whatever comes to your mind.

Remember, this will help you build a perfect foundation for the next year.

General Reflection About The Year

Before we go into specifics, let’s talk about your feeling for the entire year.

What are your thoughts about this year? What’s your current mood when you look back?

Even if you skip something, you can come back later and add it.

The final question in this point:

If you had to describe these previous 12 months, in a sentence, what would that sentence be?

Important Events

First, list down everything that you can remember, both positive, and negative.

There’s no need to keep it structured, but keep on writing.

Your subconscious mind has already processed most of them, but sometimes you have to verbalize it or put it down on a piece of paper before the internalization happens.

Ask yourself, what one event, big or small, is something that you will still talk about in 5 years?

Now pause, and reflect on how you feel currently.

What Was Awesome This Year?

In case you set goals at some point, this is the time to see which ones did you accomplish. For now, don’t focus on the things you did not.

What successes, accomplishments, wins, great news and compliments happened this year?

It can be anything from relationships, family, career, finances, health, or personal growth. Try to imagine each one of these in detail.

How did you feel?

Notice how thinking about them brings out the smile on your face (if it did not, this will).

The last question for this point is:

What single achievement are you most proud of? Moreover, why?

What Challenges Did You Face This Year?

So, what wasn’t so great this year? What ideas, goals did you have that did not happen? Why?

What were the three or four biggest challenges you have faced, both in personal, and professional life?

Did something prevent you, or you used the “Excuse Card” too much?

This point is not as pleasant as the last one, but it is important to be aware of biggest challenges, and mistakes you have had this year.

Because it will help you get the big picture.

If you feel like skipping this, go ahead, but I strongly suggest you come back to it, and list down at least one specific thing.

Learning Lessons

At this point, not only that you should have realizations about things that went great, but also the ones that didn’t.

This is a gold mine. Which leads to a question:

What are the most important lessons you have learned in 2016? Not only that but how did you grow? How did it make you wiser?

Also, my personal favorite.

Which of your personal virtues, or qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?


Pause, and think about people that played a significant role in this year. Don’t limit yourself to how much time you have spent with them, or how close they are.

Maybe you have had an amazing conversation with a stranger, which elevated your growth, or someone helped you when you needed it the most.

This point will let you understand, that even though today, social contact is reduced to a minimum, things like an authentic connection with a human being, have a power of making your entire year better.

As per usual, one question to close the point:

Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?

Once you have this in mind, your relationships with that person and any other in your life will drastically improve. Because you will be grateful, and, it will reflect in your relationship with them.

Most Common Mental State This Year

I know, it is like a rollercoaster.

You go up, and down. Sometimes several times a month.

And you feel beaten down. This is natural and will happen throughout the life.

Sylvester Stallone, in his role of Rocky Balboa, had an amazing speech:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place, and I do not care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. However, it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That is how winning is done!”

That’s life I suppose.

However, try to focus on the mental states that were positive.

What was it? Excitement? Curiosity? Enthusiasm? What triggered them? When were you euphoric?

Try to think about little details, because this will help you anchor this moment, so whenever you are down, you can always get back to one of this life changing moments.

Me on 1st of January 2016 vs. Me Right Now

If you were to write a short biography about yourself right now, what would you say?

How would you describe yourself? What the best thing about you?

Think about that for a moment. 

How about one year ago? What are the main differences?

Sometimes it will be difficult to find something positive you think about yourself. Especially if you had a rough year.

However, I know that you can find at least one thing, that is better today.

It can be as simple as that you became a better friend or a listener. Alternatively, that you learned to dance salsa, play the ukulele, or learned three words of a new language.

Appreciate every single thing.

What are you grateful for?

Momentum kicks in, and it gets hard to keep track of the things that are important.

That is why every once in a while, you need to stop and remind yourself of everything that you are grateful for.

Since the year is going to end in a span of a couple of days, this is a perfect moment.

Just one question for this point:

What, or who, are you most grateful for?

Final Takeaway

At this point you will probably feel a bit overwhelmed, that is quite natural. Try to embrace the feeling.

This article was made so you discover what are the events that shaped you this year.

These things might be positive, which is great, I hope there’s more of those. Some will be negative, and you might feel a bit down, but just the fact that you are reading this, means that you are willing to expand your awareness, and do it better next year.

My final suggestion is that you do not go right away into setting New Year Resolutions, at least not yet.

First, for a couple of days think about these realizations so that they can be internalized.

Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” – Alan Watts (its only fitting that this article started with Alan, and ends with him)

Plus, in a couple of days, when it has settled, there will be an article about how to set new year resolutions, with your new insights from the past year.

Like a sequel to a good story.

It will first appear here  Zero To Skill.

Learn How-To Triple Your Productivity In The Next 7 Days!

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Author: Zdravko Cvijetic

Zdravko Cvijetic, the founder of Zero To Skill, creates practical content, ranging from articles, e-guides, and courses, that will help you become a top performer, by gaining clarity on your life path, mastering your habits and becoming 3x more productive. With a degree in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, he was able to create content that has influenced more than 500.000 people.

The Most Powerful Way Conquer Your New Year’s Resolutions

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A Guideline To The Perfect Closure Of The Year

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13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

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Your Ultimate Guide For Waking Up Early

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How To Maintain Your Habits When Travelling

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13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

“Somebody once told me the definition of hell:

“On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.”

– Anonymus

Sometimes, to become more successful, we don’t need to add more things, we need to give up on some of them.

Even though each one of us has a different definition of success, there are certain things that are universal, which, if you give up on them, you will be more successful.

Some of them you can give up today, while it might take a bit longer for some.

1. Give Up The Unhealthy Lifestyle

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

Everything starts here, if you want to achieve anything in life, first you have to take care of your health. And there are only two things you need to keep in mind:

1. Healthy Diet
2. Physical Activity

Small steps, but you will thank yourself one day.


2. Give Up The Short-term Mindset

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”Mae West

Successful people set long-term goals, and they know that these aims are merely the result of our short-term habits that they need to do every day.

And those healthy habits shouldn’t be something you do; they should be something you are.

There is a difference between: “Working out to achieve that summer body” and “Working out because that’s who you are.”

3. Give Up Playing Small

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frighten us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”



Marianne Williamson

If you never try and take great opportunities, or allow your dreams to become realities, you will never realize your true potential.

And the world will never benefit from what you could have achieved.

So voice your ideas, don’t be afraid to fail, and certainly don’t be afraid to succeed.

4. Give Up Your Excuses

“It’s not about the cards you’re dealt, but how you play the hand.”
― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Successful people know that they are responsible for their life, not matter their starting point, weaknesses, and past failures.

Realizing that you are entirely responsible for what happens next in your life, is both frightening and exciting.

But it’s the only way that you can reach the success because excuses limit us and prevent us from growing personally and professionally.

Own up to your life; no one else will.

5. Give Up The Fixed Mindset

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.” ― Robert Greene, Mastery

In a fixed mindset, people believe that their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits and that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

And successful people know this. They invest an immense amount of time on a daily basis to develop a growth mindset, acquire new knowledge, learn new skills and change their perception so that it can benefit their lives.

Remember, who you are today, it’s not who you have to be tomorrow.

6. Give Up Believing In The “Magic Bullet.”

“Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better” – Émile Coué

Overnight success is a myth.

Successful people know that making small continuous improvement every day, will be compounded over time, and give them desired results.

That why you should plan for the future, but to focus on the day, that’s ahead of you and improve just 1%.

7. Give Up Perfectionism

“Shipping beats perfection.” – Kahn Academy’s Development Mantra

Nothing will ever be perfect, no matter how much we try.

Fear of failure (or even fear of success) often prevents us from taking action and putting our creation out there in the world.

But a lot of opportunities will be lost if we wait for things to be right.

So, “ship,” and then improve.


8. Give Up Multi-tasking

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” ― Winston S. Churchill

Successful people know this. That’s why they choose one thing and then beat it into submission. No matter what, business idea, a conversation, raising kids, or a workout.

Being fully present and committed to one task, is indispensable.

9. Give Up Your Need to Control Everything

“Some things are up to us, and some things are not up to us.” – Epictetus, Stoic philosopher

Differentiating these two is important.

Detach from the things you cannot control, and focus on the ones you can, and know that sometimes, the only thing you will be able to control is your attitude towards something.

And remember, nobody can be frustrated while saying “Bubbles” in an angry voice.

10. Give Up Saying YES To Things That Don’t Support Your Goals

“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.” — James Allen

Successful people know this that to accomplish their goals, they will have to say NO to tasks, activities, and demands from your friends, family, and colleagues.

On a short-term, you might sacrifice a bit of instant gratification, but when your goals come to fruition, it will be worth it.

11. Give Up Toxic People

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
― Jim Rohn

People we spend the most time with, add up to who we become.

There are less developed people, and more developed people than us. If you spend time with less developed people than you, your average will go down, and with it your success.

But if you spend time with people more developed than you, no matter how challenging that might be, you will be more successful.

Take a look around yourself, and see if you need to make certain changes.


12. Give Up Your Need To Be Liked

“The only way to avoid pissing people off is to do nothing important.” – Oliver Emberton

Think of yourself as a market niche.
There will be a lot of people that love that niche, but there will be individuals who don’t, and no matter what you do, you won’t be able to make entire market love you.

This is entirely natural, and there’s no need to justify yourself.

The only thing you can do is continue being authentic, and know that growing number of “haters” means that you are doing important things.

13. Give Up Your Dependency on The Social Media & Television

“The trouble is, you think you have time” – Buddha

Impulsive web browsing and television watching is a disease of today’s society.
These two should never be an escape from your life or your goals.

Unless your goals depend on either, you should minimize (or eliminate) your dependency on them. And direct that time towards things that can enrich your life.


Learn How-To Triple Your Productivity In The Next 7 Days!

Enter Your Email Now To Get The Free "Ultimate Productivity Cheat Sheet" and Join My Private List.

Author: Zdravko Cvijetic

Zdravko Cvijetic, the founder of Zero To Skill, creates practical content, ranging from articles, e-guides, and courses, that will help you become a top performer, by gaining clarity on your life path, mastering your habits and becoming 3x more productive. With a degree in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, he was able to create content that has influenced more than 100.000 people.

The Most Powerful Way Conquer Your New Year’s Resolutions

Read More

A Guideline To The Perfect Closure Of The Year

Read More

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

Read More

Your Ultimate Guide For Waking Up Early

Read More

How To Maintain Your Habits When Travelling

Read More

Your Ultimate Guide For Waking Up Early

It took me four years of experimenting, and a lot of excuses, to finally reach a point where this habit is under my command, but it was worth it.
I presume the reason why you are reading this article is that you’ve tried to develop a habit of waking up early (probably more than once) and for some reason failed.

Luckily, you don’t need to go through this again by yourself; you have me and my learning lessons.

Without a doubt, the habit of waking up early had the biggest impact on my life, because it allowed me to focus several hours on myself and my primary goals, which had an incredible influence on every area of my life.

And if you develop it, it will have the same result on you and your life.

The importance of waking up early has been acknowledged by many successful individuals, such as:

  • Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo CEO – 4:30 AM
  • Richard Branson, founder, and chairman of the Virgin Group – 5:45 AM
  • Michelle Obama, FLOTUS – 4:30 AM
  • Jack Dorsey, Twitter Co-founder – 5:30 AM
  • Tim Cook, Apple CEO – 4:30 AM (not waking up, he starts sending emails at this hour)
  • Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO – Before 5:00 AM

And many other incredible people.

“I’m here to tell you, Number one, That most of you say you want to be successful, But you don’t want it bad, You just kinda want it. You don’t want it badder than you wanna party. You don’t want it as much as you want to be cool. Most of you don’t want success, As much as you want to sleep!” – Eric Thomas

Before we get to the meat of this article, please stop for a moment and be honest with yourself:

Is this one of the blog posts that you will bookmark and get back it when you have the time?

If the answer to this question is YES, go ahead bookmark it and skim the article, you will probably find a useful tip or two.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” – Karen Lamb

But if you are ready to commit and establish a habit of waking up early, then I’ve got you covered.

So called, 5 AM Club was over glorified in the last couple of years, but waking up early doesn’t mean waking up at 5 AM.

I am not saying you cannot do it, but I am saying that maybe you shouldn’t.
At least, not before you consider your current lifestyle.

One of the reasons why it took me four years to stabilize this habit, is because I didn’t bear into consideration my way of life (then as a student), now as an entrepreneur.

Deciding an hour when you want to wake up depends on your current activities and responsibilities. Such as work (or university), family (do you have kids, a spouse or not), social circle, hobbies, traveling (flying) and other.

Getting up at 5 AM or 6 AM is extremely challenging if you are working night shifts as a doctor, or if you are a student that has to pull a lot of all-nighters and has a lot of parties.

Or if you are flying a lot, and you spend most of the days jet lagged, that its physically painful to consistently wake up at the same hour.

So, to determine when would be the ideal time, ask yourself following:

Based on my current activities, both in personal and professional life, when would be a perfect wake-up hour?

Now you have a number in mind, let’s go to real strategy.

As you know, waking up early as a habit has nothing to do with the alarm clock, but it has everything to do with these elements:

  1. Your Goals & Mindset
  2. Your Evening Routine
  3. The Quality Of Your Sleep
  4. Waking Up & Your Morning Routine

Let’s go one at the time.

1. Your mindset & your goals

“Mind over Mattress” – Robin Sharma

We, humans, are creatures of instant gratification.

And because of that, you will try to find any possible excuse to sleep in. Especially in the first several days of the habit.

The biggest thing you need to know is that you will have to sacrifice a lot, particularly in the first month. And you have to be prepared for it.

You will have to pass on a couple of parties, you will experience energy drops and your productivity will suffer, at least in the beginning.
And you will need to lose the idea that you are a not a morning person, that’s just a myth.

You need to put yourself in the first place. And you do that by setting goals.

There are two reasons why goals are important:

Goals Motivate Us

Having goals gives us the boost, whenever we want to surrender to the infamous snooze button.

The more emotion you add to your goal, the bigger the leverage will be.
Not only for waking up but for everything else in your life.

Goals Dictate Your Activities

There are goals, and there are systems.

Each one of your goals has a set of activities that need to be done, to achieve your goal.
Take a look at this article about systems.

An example would look like this:

I have lost 5kg (10pounds) by 1.4.2017

1. Eating less than 2000 healthy calories a day (without sweets, snacks, and junk food).
2. Cardio 2x week (swimming or running) + weight lifting 2x week + yoga for stretching.

I can go more into details, but now it’s your turn.
Set top 3 goals for the next year, and for each one of them what systems do you need to follow.

Once you have them, let’s get down to how to create your evening routine, and optimizing your sleep.

2. Your Evening Routine

Most people think that waking up early begins in the morning, which is far from the truth.

First, you need to set yourself for success the night before. And there are several ways you can do that.

Stop using technology before your sleep time

Exposing yourself to too much blue light (from your smartphone, tablet, or computer) before bed has a negative influence on the quality of your sleep.

That’s why 1-2 hours before you go to bed, go into so-called “Amish Hour,” turn off everything, and focus on yourself.

Prepare for the next day

Instead of having to decide on these things in the morning and losing precious willpower and decision-making ability, decide on it the night before.

Here are three things you should think about:

  • What are your top priorities for tomorrow?
  • What clothes you will wear tomorrow?
  • What meal can you plan for tomorrow?

Evaluate day and picture your ideal morning

Time goes by fast, and if you don’t stop and reflect on things that are important to you, you will miss a lot of them.

That’s why always ask yourself what worked today? What kind of progress did you make? What are you grateful? What made you happy?

And then picture your ideal morning. This alone will influence your motivation to stay awake and stay away from the snooze button.


With our busy schedules, it’s challenging to find enough time to read, but when you eliminate technology, you will easily find 30 minutes you can dedicate to reading. Whether or not it’s for personal or professional growth.

3. The Quality of Your Sleep

Most of us go through life without knowing what affects our sleep and what can we do about it to make it better.

To maximize your sleep quality, these are the things you should have in mind:

Stop The Stimulants
At least six hours before you go to sleep, you should stop drinking coffee and alcohol, because it will mess with your sleep.
You can drink green tea and water, which are a much better substitute.

Avoid Eating Big Meals
They’ll burden your digestive system and lower your sleep quality.
Instead have a small snack, like nuts and glass of milk, so you don’t wake up hungry.

Drink One Glass Of Water
Since you are about to sleep for 6-8 hours straight, your body will need a lot of hydration; that’s why you should drink at least one glass of water.
If you have been drinking, make that at least two (and one when you wake up).

Avoid Exercising Before Sleep
Exercising less than 4 hours prior bedtime can keep you awake.

Set Right Conditions
Find a quality mattress and pillow.
Sleep in a dark and silent room (you can wear a sleep mask and have Melatonin as a supplement).
And pay attention to the room temperature, preferably you would want to sleep in a colder room (which for me in Malaysia is close to impossible).

Go to bed at the same time
At the beginning going to bed at the same time will be challenging because your body will operate on the old rhythm, and that’s why you should go to sleep when you are tired.
After several days you will start to feel tired towards the end of the day, and then you can sleep more consistently.

Optimize your sleep

By “optimizing sleep,” I mean that you should find the perfect time you should go to bed each night, and discover the ideal time you should get up to maximize energy and health.

While you sleep, you go through cycles of sleep states. The first state in a sleep cycle is light sleep, followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM-sleep. A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes (1.5 hours) and is repeated several times each night.

It would look something like:
1.5 hours > 3 hours > 4.5 hours > 6 hours and so on.

Of course, you will not be able to hit it exactly to the minute, but over the time you will get better.

4. Waking up and your morning routines

At this point, we’ve covered almost everything that’s indirectly related to waking up early.

Now you have to decide which of these two strategies you want to try:

1. The “Dive In” Method
As the title says it, you go directly to desired hour, and you try to maintain it from there.
This strategy is possible, but you have to keep in mind that sudden changes will affect your energy drastically.

2. The “Gradual” Method

The most efficient method for changing the time you wake up is to do it gradually — 10-15 minutes earlier for 1-3 days until you feel used to it, and then lower it down. If you get up at 8 a.m. generally, don’t suddenly change it to 6 a.m. Try 7:45 a.m. first. Maintain for a couple of days, and then go to 7:30.

This will take some time, but the effects on your energy will be minimal, plus it’s the most enjoyable and it has a lower chance of failure.

Just have in mind one thing, if you tend to change time zones often, it might be more challenging for you.

Once you decide which one is right for you, there are several things you should keep in mind.

Find an alarm that suits you

“To snooze or not to snooze that is the question” – By Everyone

Your day shouldn’t start with a melody that scares you or annoys you; that beats the whole point of this habit.

You should find a song that has a slow transition, and that brings out positive moods (note: it might happen that you end up disliking the melody).
My personal choice is the motivational speech from the video “Rise and Shine” – which you can find here.

Note: in the first couple of weeks, set the alarm clock away from the bad, so you have to stand up to get it.

Get Accountability
There is probably someone you know; that already has a habit of waking up. Ring that person up and ask them whether or not they can help you out.

All you need to do is send them a message or give them a call 10-15 minutes after you wake up.

That’s it.

Gamify The Process Using Seinfeld method.

The famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld said for his writing:
“I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days, you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is not to break the chain. Don’t break the chain!”

His net worth is an estimated 820 million dollars; that tells you a lot.

This method works, and its fun, especially when you keep it up for a while.

Have a Sudden Waking Activity

You need something that will throw you out of your sleep mode.

First, drink a glass of water. Then go, wash your face and brush your teeth (you can floss as well if that’s your thing).

Stretch, and make your bed. Open your window and let the light in (this won’t work if you are getting up at 5 AM, but some fresh air will do you good).

WARNING: Don’t check email, news, social media, blogs – zone out.

There will be plenty time later on to do this, but morning belongs to you.

Have something you are looking forward to.

For me it’s making coffee (specifically bulletproof coffee – not an affiliate).
It became somewhat of a ritual, that after I am done making the bed and brushing my teeth, I make the coffee and sit on the balcony, think about my goals and read a book.

Morning Routine Activities

What you will do in the morning depends on your goals and the systems you need to follow to accomplish them.

But the main rule is: whatever your activities are, focus on one hour at the time.

Trying to establish 3 hours of habits in the morning (for working out, reading, watching a course, painting, and working on your passion projects), even though it might be possible, it will overwhelm you, and it can lead to failure.

Here are some of the suggestions:

  • Setting and evaluating goals
  • Physical activity (working out, running, swimming, yoga)
  • Meditation
  • Reading (or watching courses)
  • Working on your passion project or your primary business/career
  • Spending time with your loved ones (partner, kids)
  • Preparing food (that you planned out day before)

But if you are looking for more, take a look at this article.

Note: you might experience energy drops in the first couple of weeks. But that’s normal until your body adjusts to the new schedule.

Pro tip: if you experience a sudden drop of energy, take a 20-30 minute nap during the day.

It will happen that sometimes you don’t wake up when you planned, and it usually happens that we are disappointed and it destroys the rest of the day.
Don’t worry, be happy for the extra sleep and focus on the next important thing, tomorrow just improve.


Frequently Asked Questions

What about weekends?
This depends on your personal preference. In the beginning, when you are still developing a habit, I would be consistent and wake up on the weekends.

Later, when your practice becomes stronger, you can indulge in one or two additional hours.

How many times can I skip waking up early?
When you are trying to develop this as a habit, be careful with how many times you skip, because if you go 2-3 days in a row, it will be difficult to go back to waking up early.

But at the moment you go 30 days with consistent behavior, you will see the full benefits of it, and then even if you miss 2-3 days, it will be easy to go back, because you’ve gained the leverage over yourself and you know how important this is to you.

What happens when I travel or change the environment?
This is always tricky.

First, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Try to stick with your habits, but if you can’t just do your best to do the activities you want.

Here you can find an actual guide on how to maintain your habits when traveling.

What about a sudden party?

Those are the best. Just have fun. Don’t force yourself to wake up at the exact hour, and just sleep how much you need and improve tomorrow.

Final Takeaway

If you are reading this, congratulations for sticking with me till the end.

The next step is for you to try it out. And remember, this is a long game, so start small. Just 1% better every day, and soon it will compound itself.

Good luck!

Learn How-To Triple Your Productivity In The Next 7 Days!

Enter Your Email Now To Get The Free "Ultimate Productivity Cheat Sheet" and Join My Private List.

Author: Zdravko Cvijetic

Zdravko Cvijetic, the founder of Zero To Skill, creates practical content, ranging from articles, e-guides, and courses, that will help you become a top performer, by gaining clarity on your life path, mastering your habits and becoming 3x more productive. With a degree in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, he was able to create content that has influenced more than 100.000 people.

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13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

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Your Ultimate Guide For Waking Up Early

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23 Things Everyone Can Do To Create A Life-changing Morning Routine




Imagine a door in front of you.

As you open them, you find yourself in a room with only a desk and a chair.

You approach towards, you see a book, which has your name on it.

For the first couple of seconds, you are struck in awe.


And questions start appearing:

What is this? Do I read it, or not?

After debating with your inner voice, you decide to sit down.

And you open it.

The title Of the book is: “My Unfulfilled Dreams.”


Now you are baffled.

As you open the second page, you see a list of your dreams. The ones that never happened. Some of them being repeated year in, year out.

And right below each dream, there’s an excuse that you used not to go for it.

Dream: Chasing your passion
Excuse: But there’s no money in it.
Dream: Travel
Excuse: But I don’t have the time.

And as you go through this book, you start to remember what each one of those dreams meant to you.

Tears start sliding down your face as you reach the end.

Suddenly you stumble upon on one page that has your age on it and following written:

Yes, you haven’t chased them. Yes, you’ve used excuses. But right now that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you are alive now and you still have time left to go after them.


The only thing that is left is for you to decide whether or not you will use an excuse now?

I’ll let you think about that for a moment.

If you are similar to me, you probably think it’s time to start creating a life that will help you achieve those dreams.

To do that, you need to learn how to master your time, use it in a way that will help you get results.

The first step is to discover how to use those first hours of your morning because they set the tone for the entire day.

That’s why it’s important to crush the beginning of the day because it will reflect on rest of it.

The morning routine is nothing more than several habits.

There are two types of habits you would want to form:

1. Habits that can improve quality of your life in the present
2. Habits that can improve the quality of your life in the future

Ideally, you should focus to form habits that give you both.

Such as an exercising.

By doing so, you will start seeing a mighty change; that will influence and drastically improve every area of your life:

  • You will reach optimal health
  • Your energy will be high and vibrant
  • Your will unleash your creative life
  • Your financial situation will improve
  • You will have a chance to grow and learn more
  • Your relationships will become better
  • Your emotional life will find its equilibrium
  • You will be made more productive than ever

Trust me; I can go on with listing what results you will achieve.


Before we proceed with the actual things, have you ever heard of The Marshmallow Experiment?

The Stanford marshmallow experiment was a series of studies on delayed gratification in the late 1960s and early 1970s led by psychologist Walter Mischel, then a professor at Stanford University.

In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards (i.e., a larger later reward) if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.)

In follow-up studies (10 years later), the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.


Trying to make significant changes in your life will be difficult.

But if you manage to delay gratification, and establish the desired habit, your life will grow exponentially.

The way you can achieve that is to focus on the present moment and try to enjoy every single thing you do.


There are five things you would want to achieve in the morning:

1. Become Alert
2. Take care of your emotional state
3. Take care of your intellectual state
4. Take care of your health
5. Work on an activity that supports your long-term goals


And here are the ways how you can achieve these.


23 Things You Can Do To Create A Life-changing Morning Routine

1. Get Up Earlier

I firmly believe that everyone should develop a habit of getting up earlier. Even if you don’t think, you are a morning person.

But in the modern world, they have us belief that we are a failure if we don’t wake you at 4:30 AM or 5 AM in the morning.

Which is far from the truth.

I think it would be foolish to assume that everyone should wake up at 5 AM. I believe that it’s an excellent idea, but whether or not you should get up that early depends on your lifestyle (a student who studies until early morning and a person which has to be at work at 7 AM, cannot form the same habit).

What you need to do is optimize your sleeping/waking up, so you can be fully rested and healthy, and that it supports your goals.

Don’t make drastic changes.

If you want to get up at 6 AM, but you’re at 8 AM.
Start with 7:45 AM. And do that for two days.

Then go down to 7:30. And so on.

This will help you create a slow transition, and once you reach 6 AM, just try to keep up the momentum, until it becomes a habit.


2. Drink 16oz (500ml) water

Your body just went 5-8 hours without hydration. So you need to make up the difference.

Water kickstarts your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins, gives your brain fuel, and may even make you eat less.


3. Make your bed

Doing this in the morning is going to be the first thing you will accomplish. So it will give you a small sense of pride, and a boost in motivation to focus on other things.

As Tim Ferriss says, it teaches you that it’s the little things in life that matter.

Tim also says: “no matter how sh**ty your day is, no matter how catastrophic it might become, you can make your bed.”

Simple, yet powerful.


4. Stretch

Stretching can help improve flexibility, which can enhance your performance in physical activities or decrease your risk of injuries while enabling your muscles to work efficiently.

This takes 2 minutes, but it will have a big effect on you.


5. Engage In A Physical Activity

Depending on your lifestyle, goals and personal preference this can be anything:

Gym, Yoga, Zumba, Walking, Running, Jumping on a trampoline. Swimming.

Whatever it is, just get your body moving.

According to research, having a constant physical activity:

  • Helps you control weight
  • Improves health conditions and battles diseases
  • Improves mood
  • Boosts energy
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Improves sex life
  • It’s fun

6. Take a Cold Shower

This will not only give you energy and feeling of freshness, but it will drastically improve your physical and mental well-being, it improves your immune and digestive system, plus it can help with weight loss.

Plus, right after the exercise, there’s nothing better than a nice shower.

7. Drink either Coffee or Tea

This is an entirely personal preference, but both of these have benefits for the body and promote alertness, which is more than welcome in the morning.

And there is also the idea of having your peace in the morning while drinking something warm.

8. Establish a Healthy Diet

Think of your body as a vehicle. If you want it to go great distances, you have to take care of it.

The biggest problem is that people think only short-term.

When it comes to dieting, it shouldn’t be something you do once in a while.

But it should be part of who you are.

So educate yourself on the topic, and create your perfect diet.

Basic math is simple:
If you cut unhealthy food and Add healthy food  = Healthy Body

9. Reflect On The Day Before

We had a saying back at home that “Morning is always smarter than the night.”

The reason is that you go through a lot within one day. Decision making, interactions, physical activity.
This depletes your capability to see things from a fresh perspective.

So reflect on the day before, see what you did the right (and how can you continue doing that), and what you did that can be improved?

Draw the lessons, and apply them right away.

10. Be Grateful

Once you’ve closed the chapter of yesterday, focus on the present.

What are the things that you have in life that you feel truly grateful for? People? Experiences? Love? Health? Progress? Growth?

And just remind yourself about it, because it will give you a sense of humility, and a good starting point to do more.

11. Journal

Dear diary,


It doesn’t have to be a cliche.

But the act of letting your mind wonder and channeling it to a notebook is incredible.

The amount of ideas and realizations that will happen will astonish you.

Whatever comes to mind, just let it be.

This can truly be a therapeutic experience.

12. Establish a Centering Activity

We live in a world that doesn’t stop, and its rare to find a peaceful moment.

That’s why you need to find a way to be more in the present and calm your thoughts.

What you want to do here, is to create a grounding effect.

Meditation and prayer are just one of the ways you can achieve that, but not the only ones.

You can create a mix of different things, depending on what suits your needs.

13. Set and review goals

This is important because if you know what you are striving to achieve, you will be able to direct your attention to it.

Goals work like a lens of a camera.

If you set the lens and focus correctly, you will be able to take a clear picture.

If it is out of focus, your picture will be blurry.

Focus on one year ahead, and set from 3–5 primary goals, for the most important areas of your life (work, health, social relationships, personal growth, travel, etc.)

Make your goals specific, and phrase them in a way as if you’ve already achieved them.

And once you have set your goals, come back to them every day and do a review, to see can something is improved or adapted.

14. Visualize Your Goals

Once you have your goals in place, a direction in life, you need to visualize your path towards accomplishing them.

By adding details, a clear path, and emotion of how would it feel if you already achieved it, you trick your mind into believing that it is already capable of achieving it.


I want to be quite clear; this is not the Law of Attraction type of a thing. Where you imagine a Ferrari, and tomorrow it magically appears next to your mansion.

It doesn’t work like that.

Visualization is one side of the coin.

Hard work and dedication is another side of the coin.

These two together can give you a Ferrari.

15. Develop A Strategy

Goals set. Path envisioned.

Now you need to create a simple strategy that will help you get there.

What are the things you need to do to make your goals happen? What are the milestones? When is the deadline? What are the possible roadblocks?

When you have this in place, you need to break it down further.

16. Set Priorities For The Day

Your priorities should be derived from your strategy.

High leverage activities that you should focus on that day that will bring you closer to your goals.

Ideally, you would want to set 3-5 activities and determine the hierarchy of importance for each one of them.

17. Read Books

No matter what genre you are reading, the real immersion in the topic will spark your creativity and unleash your imagination.

Each book has at least one good idea it can offer you; that can help you grow personally or professionally.

So whenever you open a book, look for just one idea, and you will see how soon they will start lining up.

Take a look at this article on Comprehensive Reading, if you are interested in improving your efficiency and reading speed.

18. Learn Something New

To achieve your goals, you will need to develop yourself personally and professionally regularly.

This can be accomplished through different mediums, such as books, podcasts or courses.

And its the same as habits, you should focus on skills that can give you both value in the present and in the future.

Try to make learning as interactive as possible, to motivate you to persist.

Here’s a how-to guide for acquiring skills rapidly.


19. Work On Your Long-term Goal

Whether you are a student, or you are pursuing a career, or you have your own business.

This is the time of the day where you dedicate yourself and put full focus on the most important activity.

You want to focus on high-leverage activities that will give you the best results.

Remove all distractions, find a spot where you are comfortable (but not too much, so you don’t fall asleep) and just sit down.

Finish the most important task of the day, and then you can move on.

20. Check Emails, Social Media & News

Once you’ve finished with the big chunk of your work, you can then check notifications.

Scan through important things, and declutter the rest.

Be sure to stay focused, because the internet does a pretty good job with distracting us from the useful.


21. Work On Your Passion Project

As a reward, find something that’s close to your heart.

Something that “turns you on,” that can unleash your potential and maybe even help does around you.

Whatever it is, don’t forget to nurture that part of yourself.

22. Kickstart Your Day With Inspirational Content

Here you can create a final touch to your ritual, something that will give you the boost for the day.

It can be your personal mantra, or motivational video, a workout song or some inspiring article.

An example of a personal mantra might be:
“Every day in every way I am becoming better and better.”

Maybe that will give you some ideas.

23. Spend Time With Your Family (or partner)

Spending quality time with your family or the partner can be so rewarding.

Even if it is just for 30 minutes, try to be present and dedicate them your undivided attention.

Then again there are those (including me), who live alone and are single, in which case you can maybe have an early time with your friends.
Or just have alone time to enjoy after well done morning ritual.

There are just a couple of notes you should have in mind:

* Take it easy on yourself (this is supposed to be enjoyable process)
* Don’t start everything at once, focus on the habits within the first hour until it becomes a habit
* Be flexible (sometimes you will stay out longer, go for travel and you should adapt your routine accordingly)
* You will need to sacrifice certain things (establishing a morning ritual takes time, and you will need to choose to do the hard thing instead of sleeping an extra hour, or skipping working out)


There is something special about being awake early, and knowing that you are working on improving the quality of your life, and as a result of it, you will improve the lives of people around you.

Whatever becomes a part of your morning routine, be consistent. You will notice how fast you will grow and how everything around you start’s to align.

Implementing these things will change you and your life.

You’ll be happier and more energetic. Your productivity will skyrocket. Your relationships will be healthier and stronger. You will be more motivated and inspired to do more. Your financial life will improve.

You will be better. And you will do better.

The most amazing thing about it is that you will accomplish all of this by improving a couple of hours of your day, imagine what you could do with the rest of it?

You know what you need to do. Go after it.

Impossible is waiting for you.


Learn How-To Triple Your Productivity In The Next 7 Days!

Enter Your Email Now To Get The Free "Ultimate Productivity Cheat Sheet" and Join My Private List.

Author: Zdravko Cvijetic

Zdravko Cvijetic, the founder of Zero To Skill, creates practical content, ranging from articles, e-guides, and courses, that will help you become a top performer, by gaining clarity on your life path, mastering your habits and becoming 3x more productive. With a degree in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning, he was able to create content that has influenced more than 100.000 people.  

The Most Powerful Way Conquer Your New Year’s Resolutions

Read More

A Guideline To The Perfect Closure Of The Year

Read More

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

Read More

Your Ultimate Guide For Waking Up Early

Read More

How To Maintain Your Habits When Travelling

Read More