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What is behaviour change?

If you want to make a behaviour change, it means you're hoping you can change something or make something different about yourself and your actions.

You can define behaviour as: "The way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others."

And you can define change as: "Make (someone or something) different; alter or modify."

Reasons for changing your behaviour

You may have specific reasons why you want to change your behaviour. But you may be wanting to do this for the good of:

  • Your health - you might want to lose weight to improve your health
  • Your friends - to spend more time with them and act as a support network for them
  • Your family - so you can have more energy to run around with your children and grandchildren
  • Your community - you want to cycle more rather than drive to protect children walking to school
  • The environment - to help protect it by recycling more

Our motivations to change our behaviour alter at different times in our lives.

Your age, if you have children, or your financial situation can be reasons why you want to make a change.

This site can help you change an action or behaviour. We hope it leads to a positive and sustained behaviour change that lets you be happier or healthier.

But this site is not designed to change how you feel about the behaviour you are trying to change.

Why are some behaviours difficult to change?

It can be difficult to change some behaviours. It's especially true if they're something you've done for a long time, or you do automatically.

These behaviours can form into habits and habits are more difficult to change.

Some examples of positive long-term behaviours that become habits are:

  • Looking both ways before crossing the road
  • Strapping your seat belt on in your car
  • Brushing your teeth twice a day

Have you tried changing your behaviour before?

You may have been unsuccessful in the past with attempting a behaviour change. There can be many reasons why an attempt to change a behaviour may not work.

Often people say they don't understand why it didn't work as they had the motivation to try in the first place.

It's easy to go back to what you think works, or that has worked for a short period of time. But you should adapt your approach and think about why you were unsuccessful in those previous attempts.

The influences around you shape your decisions and motivations. While you'll have motivation in your behaviour change journey, often you experience a slip-up that's out of your control.

It could have a link to your capability to complete the behaviour change. Or it could involve the opportunities around you that influence your motivation.

The most important thing with slip-ups is to know they're likely to happen at some point and prepare for them. Find out more about planning for potential problems.

The COM-B model and behaviour change

People interested in making a behaviour change often use the COM-B model.

It can help you understand where to put your focus and effort for the best chance of success in changing your behaviour. The model splits into 4 areas:

  1. The 'C' in COM-B refers to 'Capability'. These are reasons why you might be unable to do a particular activity.
  2. The 'O' refers to 'Opportunity'. These are reasons within your environment that might stop you from being able to do an activity.
  3. The 'M' refers to 'Motivation'. These are reasons within your mind which can stop you from being able to do a certain activity.
  4. The 'B' refers to the end 'behaviour' or activity we're interested in changing. For example, losing weight.  

What's next

If you're ready, you can now look at understanding and changing your own behaviour.  

COM-B model diagram shows capability and opportunity feed into motivation. Capability, motivation and opportunity feed into behaviour and vice versa.
The COM-B model, which is used to see where the best chance of success is for you to change your behaviour.

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