I’m not yet ready call it a victory, but I recently made a simple discovery that might be the key I’ve been looking for when it comes to one of my most elusive habits I’ve tried to develop: Waking up on time.

I have long known that my morning dictates the tone for the rest of the day for me (I’m not sure if it is just for me or if it is universal, but I’d recommend that you invest in discovering what your ideal morning is and pursue that on a daily basis). The problem is that especially since my schedule requires me to have early morning starts, it has been incredibly difficult to really develop a consistent routine and turn it into a habit. It has been by far the most desired habit of mine to develop the habit to simply wake up without having to hitting the snooze button or going back to sleep all together.

No matter what I did, I would gain momentum for a while and then everything would crash, and it would take weeks before I could get back to my morning routine. While it is possible that the answer simply is sleep deprivation, I don’t think so. Since the only thing that seems to truly be effected is my ability to wake up and I don’t see any real drop in energy levels or see my health decline. For some reason, no matter how much willpower I tried to muster up the night before, I would go into autopilot in the morning and sleep in until the last minute.

A new theory.

Everything changed a couple days ago, when I recalled one of the overarching themes of my all-time favorite book, Influencer, which talks about how many people are attacking problems incorrectly. We see a bad result and attack the symptom, when we need to be looking at the contributing factors that produce that result instead.

So what is wrong with my habit to waking up on time? IT IS NOT EVEN A HABIT! Waking up on time is a RESULT. I need to be looking at what actions I need to ingrain into my routine that become automatic so that when the alarm goes off, I do something without even having to think about it and without the resource of willpower to produce the result.

Once I had that paradigm shift, I discovered three critical actions that I need to turn into habits that will (hopefully) result in me waking up on time consistently: 26 Push-ups before even turning off the alarm, then immediately walk to the kitchen and drink a glass of cold water, and finally making some delicious coffee.

If I do those three things, I first get my heart rate up from the push-ups, and then having a following action of drinking cold water requires me first to walk out of my bedroom and also the water shocks my system to a more alert state. Finally the kicker in immediately making coffee is a given and probably most obvious: caffeine. What is great about this is each action helps me take one step forward and builds momentum and by the time I’ve taken my first sip of coffee, I have already been up for approximately 15 minutes and the caffeine jolt should be the last step to shaking off any grogginess.

I have to say, I’m writing this pretty early and it is possible that I may be completely wrong about this possibly being the missing link to my quest, but I’ve done it for the past two days and it has worked perfectly. I’ve had the best two mornings in at least two months, and I’ve been having some of my worst in the past couple of weeks.

The main point of this is the discovery that my objective itself was flawed. I was trying to make a result a habit when you can only turn actions into habits that will then lead to the consistent results that you seek. I guess just keep following #TheXavierProject to see if this holds up or I need to go back to the drawing board on what habits I need to develop to reach this result.