Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Are you ready for a smart change?

It is possible to make valuable changes in our lives–I am sure of it after reading this book. Smart Change highlights an easy step-by-step-guide to a better you. In Smart Change, Markman writes about the psychological mechanisms that influence the habits that influence our every behavior. In addition, he offers relatable and compelling advice that every person can easily adapt to if they desire to make positive changes in their life.

All of us have a “go” system that is the basis of our own personal habits; this is the automatic way that most of us live our lives. The go system helps us find valuable goals to pursue in our daily lives by making us more aware of our environment–thus using it to our advantage. The go system teaches us to become more aware of our surroundings so we are better able to recognize the triggers of our habits and adapt our behaviors for positive outcomes. In recognizing these triggers we are then able to pursue valuable goals on a daily basis. We are encouraged to keep a journal on our daily thoughts, actions, obstacles, signs, goals, habits, and anything that will help us to monitor and change our own behavior to further our goals in life. The “stop” system, a parallel to Markman’s “go” system, teaches people how to deal with the different stressors and challenges in life that hinder the creation and development of positive habits. By being aware of our behavior we can make effective changes, which is a smart change in itself.

Chapters in Smart Change explain how we can work to make beneficial and achievable adjustments in our lives. We can utilize behavior changes; sustain good behavior; learn ways to optimize our goals; tame our go system; utilize a harness on our stop system; and learn to manage our environment and engage with others. There are break-out sessions throughout the book that offer smart-change journal questions on how to review our current habits and motivations, and the book gives advice on how to begin a new program on change. The author utilizes scientific evidence to show that change can happen with the right attitude.

In following Markman’s suggestion that exercise is an excellent stress reducer, I used the tips offered in the book to begin a new exercise routine to walk ten-thousand steps each day. I kept the end goals in mind, created new exercise habits to allow the go system to operate automatically, and strove to repeat the same behavior. This worked for about two full weeks. I then stopped working towards this goal and even forgot about it until a friend stated that she was working on the same goal. By using the ideas in the book I was able to start a new routine, but I had to use my own power to keep the routine going, of course.

I think that there is a place for smart change in everyone’s life. However, it is difficult to make any change, even with the best of intentions.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Penguin Group. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.