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By Arizona Daily Star

No matter how resolute you are,the key to success is making a start, and that first step can be a doozy. How to begin?

That's the first question we face in everything we would do in this life. It might be asking for a first date with a desired sweetheart. It might be starting a new business. It might be climbing a mountain, giving up smoking or, come to think of it, writing a newspaper story.

To reach the goal, you must begin - somewhere, somehow. You've got to get off the dime. But getting in gear - actually beginning something - is often the most difficult step of a new endeavor.

This week, when many of us are making grand resolutions for the New Year, might be a good time to learn some ways of putting them in motion.

Psychologists, motivational experts and entrepreneurs say the secrets to starting something include creating the right environment, getting in the right mood and "following your dream."

"The greatest difficulty in starting something new, or enacting a resolution, is that we tend to try it without making any arrangements in our environment to support that new beginning," says Alfred Kaszniak, head of the psychology department at the University of Arizona.

"Our environments, our surroundings serve as cues for us," Kaszniak says. "People trying to break unhealthy habits, like alcohol or tobacco consumption, tend to continue with the habit when they're in certain places or around certain people."

The way to begin breaking such habits is to "rearrange environments and get away from those cues," he says.

Kaszniak, the author of five books on psychological topics, says another key to beginning something is to avoid biting off more than you can chew.

"One way in which we defeat our intentions is by trying to make too large of a change," he says. "If I tell myself I'm going to write five chapters of a new book by February, I've set myself up for disappointment.

"But if I say I want to get the first three pages of one of those chapters written by next week, I might be able to do that. Breaking things down into smaller chunks is one way to get started and keep yourself moving toward the larger goal."

Kaszniak has another piece of information for those who want to take the first step toward something new: Your mood matters.

"Many of the things that people would desire to change," he says, "are the sorts of behaviors that are driven, at least in part, by our mood state."



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