Believe to Succeed: 9 ways to boost your Self-Efficacy

Are you a confident person or do you have doubt? The term “self-efficacy” best describes how people’s beliefs about their abilities to effectively perform and achieve desired outcomes are often the decisive factor determining the actions they take.

The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.” —William Jennings Bryan

Do you have a strong belief in your abilities to be successful and overcome any situation to get the job done?

Or, do you struggle with a lack self-confidence and self-belief that holds you back from pursuing success in life?

Do you often find yourself doubting your capabilities to rise to and overcome a challenge?

In business we are often told we need to have confidence to succeed. Believe in yourself and you can do anything! However it’s not always that easy.

We have a lot of pressure on us. We try to present an image that we all have it all under control. Yet the truth is that all of us struggle in some way, some of the time. Our confidence will waver. Fear may grab us and not let go.

Lack of confidence and belief has been an area of my life that has previously held me back.  Fear of failure and self-doubt have raised their ugly heads on a number of times limiting my potential to move forward in a positive way.

Knowing this the key question worth exploring is how do we overcome these fears and doubts that are holding us back?

Confidence equals Trust

Self-trust is the first secret of success.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The word “confidence” comes from the Latin ‘fidere’. It means “with trust.” To have confidence in yourself is to trust yourself – trust yourself to handle life’s challenges, and trust yourself to get things done.

Confidence seems a simple concept to understand, however in reality it can be complex. It is affected by a number of factors. It is influenced by the way we think, feel and behave about a situation or task. It relies on us drawing assurances or beliefs from varying experiences, and interpretations.

‘Confidence’ in this context means having a strong belief. Believing you can accomplish a task is the first step to doing so.

To better understand the concept of confidence when it is situation specific the world of Psychology use a different term: self-efficacy.

What is Self-efficacy?

If self-efficacy is lacking, people tend to behave ineffectually, even though they know what to do.” -Albert Bandura

Think about a time when you tried to improve your fitness through exercising.

Would you have been confident to follow through on these goals if you didn’t believe you could effectively use your skills to accomplish your health goals?

Self-efficacy does not relate to your abilities, but to how strongly you believe you can use your abilities to work toward your goals. It reflects your confidence in your ability to apply control to your motivation, behaviour, and social environment.

The concept of self-efficacy was first introduced by Albert Bandura in 1977.

According to Bandura Self-efficacy comprises of a person’s attitudes, abilities, and cognitive self-evaluations. These attributes greatly influence how we perceive and respond to situations. Self-efficacy can play a role in not only how you feel about yourself, but whether or not you successfully achieve your goals in life.

Low Self-Efficacy compared to high Self-Efficacy

It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” –Sir Edmund Hillary

What could be more demotivating than believing you don’t have what it takes to succeed?

People who don’t believe they have the ability to bring about change in their lives tend to be more passive when faced with a problem or when placed in a new situation. They pull away from new experiences because they assume they are unequipped to meet the challenges that the new situation will bring.

People with low self-efficacy:

  • Procrastinate and run to distraction.
  • Avoid accepting challenges as they fear failure.
  • Believe that they are not capable of performing complex tasks.
  • Focus on failures and adversities as shortcomings.
  • Are less confident about themselves.
  • Lack a sense of commitment.
  • Have a hard time recovering from setbacks and lack of achievement.
  • Expect results without putting in efforts.
  • Are highly susceptible to depression and anxiety about facing failures.
  • Focus more on their weaknesses and less on their strengths.

 People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

  • Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate
  • Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities
  • Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments
  • View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered

Self-efficacy is clearly one of the foundations of a successful life. So how can we develop greater self-efficacy and so build true confidence?

How Does Self-Efficacy Develop?

Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.” –Peter T. McIntyre

Our sense of self-efficacy develops in early childhood through the experiences we encounter. As we evolve into adulthood our self-efficacy continues to grow as we gain new skills, experiences, and understanding.

Bandura identified four key antecedents for on-going development of self-efficacy:

(E)Mastery Experiences- Throwing ourselves into a task provides us with the clearest feedback whether we are likely to succeed.

(M)Social Modelling- Seeing others succeed or fail affects how we see your chances. By modelling ourselves on successful people, we increase the belief we can accomplish things too.

(P)Social Persuasion- When we are told we can be successful in something, or someone believes in us, we will make an effort and keep going despite obstacles.

(R)Psychological Responses- Regulating our emotions helps us stay task focused. Our own responses and emotional reactions to situations also play an important role in self-efficacy. Moods, emotional states, physical reactions, and stress levels can all impact how a person feels about their personal abilities in a particular situation.

9 Ways to Build your Self-Efficacy

One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” –Arthur Ashe

Fortunately, self-efficacy is a psychological skill that you can develop. If you feel like your self-efficacy needs a boost, consider some of the following strategies to incorporate into your life.

1. Celebrate Your Success (E). Mastery experiences play a critical role in the establishment of self-efficacy. Bandura actually identified this as the single most effective way to create a strong sense of self-belief. Success builds a powerful belief in your ability. Establishing a growing numbers of meditators followers in groups I facilitate was a big confidence boost for me.

2. Observe Others (M). Bandura also identified vicarious experiences obtained through peer modelling as another important way of developing self-efficacy. Seeing others putting in effort and succeeding can increase your belief in your own ability to succeed. I have found it useful following experts in my field that I inspire to emulate their success.  

3. Seek Positive Statements (P). Hearing positive feedback from others can also help improve your sense of self-efficacy. For me receiving referrals or testimonials from clients was a big positive.

4. Awareness of Thoughts and Feelings (R). If you find yourself getting stressed before a challenging event, you might not feel confident in your ability to cope with the task at hand. Look for ways to create a new habit to help you manage your thoughts and emotions. I always set aside time before events to focus and calm the mind with breathing techniques.

5. Get to know yourself (R). Get to know yourself well. Start listening to your thoughts. Start writing a journal about yourself, and about the thoughts you have about yourself. Analyse why you have negative thoughts. What are the triggers? I have been recording my thoughts and feelings to daily events on a daily basis to better understand my internal world.

6. Increase competence (E). How do you feel more competent? Practice, practice, practice. Throw yourself into opportunities and experiences and fine tune your skills. When I was trying to build an audience for my meditation groups I offered my services for free to practice and build my confidence. It can be challenging but it’s worth the effort.

7. Set achievable small goals (E). People often make the mistake of making their goals too big and then when they fail, they get discouraged. Target something more achievable. Small prepared steps are the key to success. You’ll feel good about that. The more small goals you achieve, the better you’ll be at it, and the better you’ll feel.

8. Get out of the comfort zone and do something you’ve been procrastinating on (E). Get in the habit of writing a to-do list at the start of the day. Pick one item to knock off the list before you move on.  You’ll feel great about yourself.

9. Get a coach (P). Having a coach in your corner will help you overcome those blind spots holding you back and make you accountable for action. When we feel lonely and lacking in confidence you need that person to pick you up and guide you through the obstacles. A coach will keep you moving forward rather than giving up.

Understanding your level of Self-efficacy

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

Can you think of ways your own self-efficacy beliefs play a role in your daily life?

In which areas do you have strong self-efficacy?

In which areas would you like your self-efficacy to be a bit stronger?

 How could you increase your self-efficacy in those areas?

Believing in our abilities is crucial for personal development.

It is our belief that we are capable of doing what needs to done for the task at hand. It is our belief that we can coordinate or adapt our skills in challenging situations.

With positive efficacy beliefs we can have a more positive attitude. It results in enthusiasm, vitality, optimism and enjoyment. All of which can enhance our level of motivation and engagement.

What do you do to boost your own self-efficacy in your life?

Let us know in the comments below.

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