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Last Updated on April 22, 2020

You Can If You Think You Can: 4 Ways to Build Self-Efficacy

You Can If You Think You Can: 4 Ways to Build Self-Efficacy

When you face an obstacle or a setback, do you sit back, throw your hands up, and cease to fight for your goals or do you rise to the challenge that has come your way? Are you like the little engine that could constantly telling yourself, “I think I can, I think I can!” or do you allow self-doubt to control you? Do you persevere through difficulty believing that something is better on the other side or do you feel you are incapable of achieving success?

“They are able because they think they are able.” — Virgil

Questions like these are central to our understanding of self-efficacy. Who we become and what we accomplish in life are largely a result of what we choose to believe in regards to our ability.

Pop psychology teaches that belief in one’s self matters. However, it is not just a statement randomly applied in self-help books and pep talks. Psychologist Albert Bandura in his social cognitive theory, defined self-efficacy as the belief a person has in his ability to succeed at a task or to achieve a goal.[1]

Believe in Your Ability

According to Bandura, our attitudes, cognition, beliefs, and abilities are central to the system of the self. This self-system helps to determine how we perceive situations and other people. It also helps us to perceive how we will behave, respond, or react to these different situations. Self-efficacy then is a part of this system in that it is our belief in our abilities to take a certain course of action in order to reach a desired result or goal.

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Since Bandura published his groundbreaking discovery in the form of the paper, Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change,[2] the subject has become highly studied and used among psychologists and educators as a way to demonstrate its impact on mental states, behavioral process, and even human motivation.

All people have a goal or dream they want to achieve in life, but “easier said than done” as they say. Self-efficacy shows how we are able to achieve these goals.

Make the Effort

Self-efficacy affects behavior choices, motivation, thought patterns, situational responses, choices in behavior, productivity at work or in academics,[3] as well as one’s idea about destiny.

People with a high level of self-efficacy view challenges and problems as opportunities to learn and grow whereas people with a low level of self-efficacy aim to avoid problems. Those with a high level of self-efficacy are confident in their ability to achieve while those with a low level of self-efficacy lack a good deal of confidence, are unsure of themselves, and doubt their abilities.

People with a high level of self-efficacy are more likely to make an effort to complete a project and persist through until it is finalized than those with a low level of self-efficacy. Bandar also believed that self-efficacy has a strong correlation to one’s worldview as well.

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People with a high level of self-efficacy believe that they are in control of their lives and that their own choices and action determine the outcome of their lives. On the other hand, people with a low level of self-efficacy see their lives as outside of their control, in the hands of someone else, or completely uncontrollable by anyone.

While we stop growing physically and over time, some of our beliefs come set in concrete, self-efficacy does not really end. It evolves throughout the various stages of life. Recently in a developmental psychology, we discussed self-efficacy and how it can be developed in our lives. Here are 4 ways we can build our level of self-efficacy for greater achievement:

1. Build One Success on Top of Another

All successful people started out small. Don’t despise the small success, the small achievements or accomplishments. These set the foundation for what is to come next.

Success is not automatic. It begins with the belief that you can be and then taking one small step at a time to get there. Every little task you are faced with, mastery its process, do it to the best of you ability and allow yourself to grow with it no matter how difficult it is.

2. Observe the Endurance and Success of Other People

Watching other people complete a task or reach a goal successfully is an important point of self-efficacy and also serves subtly as a motivator. You’ll think to yourself, “If he can do it, so can I” or “If she can get there from where she was, so can I.”

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Seeing other people’s success through effort raises the belief in ourselves that we too can make an effort to succeed as well.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Believe You Can Succeed

Social persuasion is powerful. Surround yourself with people who believe you can succeed.

There are some people who will even persuade you to believe that you are capable of succeeding. Sometimes, they come in the form of a parent, a coach, a teacher, a mentor, or even a close friends.

Verbal affirmation from other people can help in overcoming self-doubt and focusing on putting your best foot forward.

4. Work Through Your Own Psychological Responses

Our own responses and reactions to situations are developed largely by unseen psychological processes. Emotional states, stress levels, and moods impact how we view ourselves and what we believe about our abilities.

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By learning how to minimize stress (not by avoiding the situation or challenge) and increase mood to a positive level, you can improve your level of self-efficacy.

“Ability is what gives you the opportunity; belief is what gets you there.” — Apollo

Research has shown that self-efficacy is a much stronger predictor of outcomes in behavior and achievement than other aspects of motivation. My professor in development psychology, Dr. Chad Magnuson said,

“Success is not just a matter of capability, but really a matter of how capable we think we are.”

More Tips About Building Self-Worth

Featured photo credit: Ricardas Brogys via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Albert Bandura, Stanford University: Self Efficacy
[2] Albert Bandura, Stanford University: Self-Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change
[3] Teach the Earth: Self-Efficacy: Helping Students Believe in Themselves

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Daniella Whyte

Psychology Researcher

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Last Updated on October 16, 2020

12 Ways to Get Back on Track When Things Don’t Work Out

12 Ways to Get Back on Track When Things Don’t Work Out

Life can be complicated. A few months ago, you felt like you were being extremely productive. You would visit the gym regularly, stick to your healthy eating habits, make achievements at your workplace, and were even getting quality sleep each night. You felt motivated enough to take on any task that came your way and even executed it to perfection.

But all of a sudden, everything is dull and bleak. You got too tired of the hectic schedule and you slipped, making you go down a rabbit hole of demotivation and procrastination. Maybe you suffered from the loss of a relationship, an illness, an injury, or a significant setback. Now, you only find yourself thinking negatively because you feel as though all the progress you had made is now ruined.

However, when things don’t work out, there are things you could do to get your life back on track. Many religions and traditions state that in the end, you will be happy. If you aren’t happy, then it is not the end.

But how does one find the motivation to start all over again when things don’t work out? Simple: you go back to the basics.

What Is Control?

When things don’t work out, the first thought that comes to mind is how to begin from scratch. But before you start figuring that out, it is important to know what control is.

Does control mean having a good work-life balance? Or does control refer to being a quick decision-maker?

The thing is that control can be subjective. Having ‘control’ over your life is important, but it may not always mean the same thing for two different people.

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Taking control of your life means that you are self-aware and confident enough to embark on new journeys. This control allows you to feel motivated enough to believe that if you invest your hard work into something, you will reap great results.

While it is impossible to control all the external factors around you, it is possible to control how you feel about them. Taking control of your life begins with your thoughts and emotions—internal factors—which later translate into controlling your surroundings or external factors as well.

When things don’t work out according to plan, we feel as if everything is out of control. To avoid this, we must remember that taking control is a choice that we make for ourselves and that we can exercise that control over our lives whenever and however we wish.

12 Ways of Gaining Control When Things Don’t Work Out

So, what do you do when things don’t work out and you feel as though you have lost control? You gain it back.

Here are 12 simple ways you can get your life back on track.

1. Reflect Upon Yourself

A thorough life audit can clear your perspective. Since it enables you to focus on each area of your life separately, it gives you a better picture of where you stand at the moment. While you reflect upon your life, remember to include aspects such as your career, relationships, family, psychological and physical health, fitness, and overall motivation. This gives you more clarity regarding where you are and where you want to be in the future.

While you could carry out this reflection yourself, there are also many tools available to aid you in this life audit process. The Wheel of Life focuses on a diagram method to evaluate your life, but there are also multiple different lists of questions available to assess your situation.

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2. Identify the Cause of Failure

You had your life on right on track—then what happened? Before you restart your pursuit of motivation and productivity, you must identify the cause of what led to your downfall in the first place. This serves as an extremely important factor in the healing process, especially to ensure that you don’t repeat the same mistakes.

If you dig deep enough, you will find that some common triggers led to your spiral of negativity. Once you reflect on these triggers and what causes them, avoiding them becomes much easier. This way, you can easily get your life back on track when things don’t work out perfectly.

3. Be Confident

Confidence is the key to your success, especially when it comes to having control over your life. While showing up for work every day is important, showing up to achieve something is much more important.

When things don’t work out perfectly and continue to spread far beyond your control, it can be because of your lack of physical and mental confidence. To regain your confidence, think about the things that provide you with the most confidence and engage in habits that correlate to that. For instance, if you feel confident when you are physically healthy, go to the gym to retain your fitness.

4. De-Clutter

For a clear mind, you must have a clear plan. On average, every individual has around 70,000 thoughts per day. While it is impossible to keep a close record of every single one, it is highly recommended to list down some of the thoughts that are most important to you.

This may be a thought about cooking pasta for dinner tomorrow or that work meeting you have been constantly rescheduling. Maybe it is a project idea you had right before you went to sleep, or maybe it is about that old friend that you thought of while you sip your coffee.

This method of brain dumping will help you bring important ideas and tasks onto paper while making room for your mind to focus on each item individually.

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5. Condition Your Mind

When things don’t work out, you may think that you need to start building your good habits back again from scratch. However, that is not true. There are many habits and routines that one follows subconsciously—and you can easily make use of your current habits to restart different sorts of healthy behavior to gain control over your life again.

For instance, if your current routine is to come home from work, change into comfortable clothing, and watch Netflix—you can use that to condition your brain into a new habit. By changing into workout clothes instead, you may be motivated enough to head to the gym before getting to that TV series.

6. Start From Little Things

Each droplet makes an ocean. When things don’t work out optimally in life, remember that you still have control over the tiny little things that are around you. This could be as insignificant as organizing your drawer or cleaning your house—but it will surely help you regain control over your life. Remember that even tiny things can accumulate into massive life-changing momentum.

7. Be Patient

When things don’t work out, it can be very tempting to get back on track as soon as possible. As a result, you may find yourself rushing through everything and trying to do too much too fast. However, it is time to slow down and be patient with yourself. If you have lost control over your diet, it is easier to get back on track by starting to track calories again instead of meal prep and strict diets.

8. Remember Your Purpose

Self-awareness is necessary. To regain control over your life after you have slipped once, you need to take a step back and reflect upon the purpose of why you wanted control in the first place. Even in the harshest of weather, trees still stand still. This is because they have strong roots—or a strong purpose.

Magical sayings are essential for reminding yourself that even if you don’t know how what you’re hoping for will appear in your life, everything is possible—something that can be easily forgotten when things are not working out.

When things don’t work out perfectly, go back to finding your purpose and why you started. Let that bring you back to gaining control over your life.

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9. Time Management

This is an important life skill that takes years to master but is necessary for getting your life back on track. One of the possible reasons why you slipped in the first place could be because you were too overwhelmed by your surroundings. If there are too many things on your mind at once, you are subject to a mental breakdown sooner or later.

To avoid that, you need to focus on managing your time more efficiently and stressing yourself out less. While it is okay to engage in multiple projects, remember to be moderate with rationing your time, and be responsible enough to keep some time for your self as well.

10. Create Healthy Boundaries

Regaining control over your life requires you to prioritize the things that are most important to you and discarding the few that only stress you out. To do this effectively, it is recommended to set healthy boundaries around yourself that help you focus solely on the important things in life.

11. Breathe

When things don’t work out, it is okay to feel overwhelmed. One of the easiest ways to relax is by taking a long walk and reconnecting with the outdoors. Don’t focus on your speed, distance, or surroundings—just breathe and focus on yourself for this moment.

12. Give Yourself Time

When things don’t work out and you spiral down that hole of negativity, you could be quick to start blaming yourself for everything. As a result, you may also feel pressured to get back on track immediately.

However, you need to give yourself time. Healthy routines are built through consistency and patience, constant reevaluations, and learning how to do things differently. Since this process may take time, you need to be kind to yourself.

Final Thoughts

While there is no single solution to getting your life back on track immediately, you should know that there are multiple smaller steps you can take towards achieving your ultimate goal. Just follow these 12 ways of gaining control when things don’t work out, and you will eventually feel the improvement in your quality of life. After all, having control over our lives is the key to feeling content.

What You Can Do When Things Don’t Work Out

Featured photo credit: Jamie Street via unsplash.com

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