smart swapsA smart swap is when you substitute a positive or neutral behavior for a negative behavior. At its simplest, a smart swap is the smoker who starts chewing gum or the worker who signs up for evening volleyball to break a pattern of happy hour drinking. The essence of a smart swap is the understanding that

1.   Every behavior serves a purpose
2.   A choice between something and nothing is a lousy choice
3.   So have a new positive behavior ready to substitute, to break the pattern of the old

If you wish to break a pattern, self-awareness is vital. Learn the triggers, the people, the situations, the time of day, the emotions, the thoughts, the needs (perceived or real) that are the precursors to the behavior. Schedule in advance, prepare, arrange, book an alternative, something that will break the pattern, give you something else to distract you, draw you into another activity, another arena. Visualize the new, better you, the benefits, the payoff. See yourself enjoying the new activity, reveling in it, relaxed, confident, happy, content.

For me, smart swaps are carrots in the refrigerator (I like the crunch) so when the munchies come, good books and magazines by my chair at home, bookmarks to inspirational sites on my laptop, all as alternatives to television vegging.

Closing quotes:

“The secret to your future is hidden in your daily routine.”  — Mike Murdock; 1946–

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be”  — Lao Tzu; 570-490 BC, founder, Taoism

“Every moment is a moment of decision, and every moment turns us inexorably in the direction of the rest of our lives.”  — Mary Balogh; 1944–