I talk about self-efficacy a great deal in my classrooms, and it gets mentioned often in my research and today I wanted to write an article explaining what it is and how to apply it in one’s day-to-day life.
“If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” Mahatma Gandhi.
It’s uplifting listening to people describe their vision for the ideal life. A plan of action often seems like a strong statement of intent, it can bolster to what may sometimes seem like a fragile vision but while a plan sometimes makes a vision seem somewhat more achievable, it’s not always enough. Despite a great plan on paper, many people never realise their vision for their ideal life, because along the way their plan becomes unraveled by their lack of self-efficacy.
You can be certain that any gap provided by the lack of self-efficacy will be comfortably filled by its foes, ‘personal insecurities’, and ‘negative self-talk’ in particular; both of which will happily take anyone down a different path that may result in them giving up on their vision! Therefore, if you’ve been trying to realise a vision, and sometimes feel like giving up, just hang on a while because it may well be those same ‘personal insecurities’, and ‘negative self-talk’ getting ready to crush your dreams! The antidote for giving up on a vision we have for ourselves may be as simple as cultivating your self-efficacy.
So, What is Self-efficacy?
Unlike confidence, your self-efficacy describes belief in your own ability, a belief you’ve developed because of real evidence, demonstrating among other things, your ability to resolve challenges, be committed, be resilient, and importantly realise your vision! Self-efficacy should never be underestimated; it serves as a powerful resource for pursuing your life aims, dreams, goals and visions.
“In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.” Albert Bandura.
Self-efficacy was first introduced as a core concept in Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory that deals with mechanisms of self-regulation, self-motivation, behavioural control and community interaction. This theory postulates that individuals are proactive and self-regulating in order to organise and execute courses of action required to attain performances. Research shows that self-efficacy is an important topic in the field of organisational psychology because of its strong relationship with goal commitment, task learning, persistence of effort and performance. The importance of self-efficacy lies in its ability to affect motivation and increase performance.
Self-efficacy is not only important for organisations though; it is also helpful and beneficial for individuals in a wide number of ways. Embracing and raising yours could work wonders in your daily life. Research shows that Self-efficacy has a great impact on our learning process. It is one of the most important factors for student’s motivation, their academic performance, and their expectations.
Building self-efficacy requires strategy. That strategy needs to start with a goal, feedback on progress toward the goal, and then practice (application). Here are a few strategies on how to put this in place for developing your self-efficacy.
Techniques For Developing Self-Efficacy
Set Goals To Improve Your Self-Limiting Beliefs
Goal setting is a key element to building someone’s belief that they can achieve something that has not been achieved before. You have no direction without a goal. The first step in overcoming limiting beliefs is to identify those beliefs.
There are three steps to challenging your self-limiting beliefs and rewiring your inner narrative:
Identify your self-limiting beliefs.
Some of you might be already consciously aware of your inner doubts and fears.
Some of you might need to spend some time digging deeper to identify the
thoughts that are holding you back from taking action. A good way to pinpoint
your self-limiting beliefs is to monitor your emotional triggers. If there are
particular situations that make you feel anxious or afraid, take some time to reflect
on what beliefs are driving those emotions. Being mindful of your inner
narrative over the course of a workday can help you to articulate your
self-limiting beliefs. Notice whether and when you downplay your achievements
or if you attribute your successes to others or luck. Notice also any
comparisons you make of yourself to others. Comparisons are typically biased—we
notice the outward successes of others but fail to see their internal
struggles, insecurities, and limitations. We focus on our own imperfections and
fail to recognise our achievements.
Also, when you consider your goals or dreams and ask yourself what the reasons are that you are currently not achieving those goals, the answers are very likely to be limiting beliefs and not necessarily immovable facts.
2. Challenge your self-limiting beliefs. Once you have identified your self-limiting beliefs – whether in the form of self-doubts, downplaying our achievements, or negatively comparing ourselves to others—we must challenge those beliefs by searching for evidence that contradicts them. Find the counter-argument to your self-limiting belief. If you find this hard to do, try distancing yourself from your self-limiting belief by imagining that you are coaching a friend on how to challenge their self-limiting belief. How would you talk them out of that negative self-talk and convince them otherwise? Then apply that advice to your own situation.
3. Change the narrative. The third step is to replace your self-limiting beliefs with a more rational, reasonable and optimistic narrative.
You might also find this belief changing process useful, you can adapt to your own personal situation: 18 Steps To Running With Positive Belief.
Track progress toward goals
You don’t climb a mountain all at once. It takes a series of checkpoints and milestones to achieve an overarching larger goal. Checkpoints and milestones provide a gradual pathway to success. Every checkpoint or milestone provides critical feedback to the person attempting to achieve the goal and opportunities to celebrate success.
Don’t expect to hit the target every time. In fact, there should be a shared understanding about setbacks and missed targets. Having a Plan-B for setbacks will actually push you to innovate more. The plan B goes into action when a target is missed.
Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy shows that the first and foremost source of self-efficacy is through mastery experiences. Success in a task is the best way to develop your belief in your abilities. If you struggle with developing a growth mindset and remain trapped in a fear of failure, a good place to start building your self-efficacy is to commit to doing one thing every day that scares you. By intentionally putting yourself out of your comfort zone, you are giving yourself opportunities for small success that cumulatively will boost your resilience. Small fails, too, will increase your resilience. Eventually, stepping outside your comfort zone becomes less threatening and natural.
Here is a list of articles and free resources that if you study and apply will help you massively raise your self-efficacy:
Even if the articles are about running, they’ll show you how to apply the same process to other areas of life too. Go boost your self-efficacy today, I think you’ll be pleased you did.
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