In desiring to add a new habit, pasttime or virtue to my life, whether to honor the new year or to spin the tires out of the mud rut I've gotten myself into, I go awry even before I pencil in a motivational quote, set my alarm or convert my Amazon wish list of helpful productivity books or gadgets into purchases: I assume space when there is none. "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion." -Cyril Northcote Parkinson (Parkinson's Law, one of the best axioms arising from social science in the last century)
I fail to take into account the cruel zero sum of time; that is, if I want to study Romans this year, I can't withdraw more hours from my ATM. They must come from somewhere in the current 24: mindless internet surfing, zoning out in a cab, sleeping in (my top three candidates). And as of now, there's not enough outward inertia to not do those things, else I would've already replaced them with something that made me happier, richer, or less susceptible to premature graying (thanks, Dad). I'm either actively satisfied or passively satisficed by all that fills my day. The first-mover, then, is not what I should add, but what I have to cut off at the knees. It's push-pull, and the double motion is what makes habit formation exceedingly difficult.
Vacuums exist in entryway closets and outer space, not the human personality. I don't have neutral hours, a hammer pining for nails. I'm always building something, but is it plumb and level? To recognize the encroachment of the mindlessly urgent and then to raise both your elbows to escape from its half-nelson: that's first. Lists and lofty goals come after, always after.