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Published on July 3, 2019

What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours

What Is Self Efficacy and How to Improve Yours

I wont lie Self efficacy is not a word I usually use, but when I looked it up to check its true meaning, I was happy to see that it’s basically what I do for a living.

How had I missed that!

Self efficacy according to the Oxford English Dictionary says:

• A personal power or capacity to produce an intended effect (rare).
• A person’s belief in his or her ability to effect change in his or her life, achieve goals, or produce desired results.

So can you say you truly believe you will get the results you want?

Do you have faith and trust that you are going to get where you want to go?

And why does it even matter?

In this article, we will look into the definition of self efficacy and how you can improve yours.

What Is Self Efficacy?

Let’s start by looking at 5 signs that you don’t have the right level of self efficacy.

  • You stop taking action and procrastinate over things.
  • You don’t like to set goals.
  • You fear failing.
  • Your internal dialogue is always moaning at you.
  • You don’t do anything about the things you hate in your life.

Self efficacy is really about what you believe. And when you appreciate how powerfully your beliefs impact on your actions and results in every area of life, it can be enough to make you never want to think again!

Improving your self efficacy is critically important to your success, happiness and even your health. If you don’t believe it is going to work, why would you bother to take any action?

Self efficacy also means that even when things go wrong, you still believe it can go well. As Michael J. Fox said,

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.”

He’s right, when your self esteem and self respect remain in tact no matter what, you will find a way to get what you want.

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A lack of self efficacy can be the difference between failure and success. Take the client I am working with at the moment, (I’ve their permission to talk about them) who wanted to work with me to grow their business.

We started by looking at their strategies and plans, and even their goals, but ultimately the biggest Eurekas that have led to the biggest sales and successes came from boosting what they thought about themselves:

  • How can a thought make you sell more?
  • How can a thought help you get your dream job?
  • How can what you think impact on your time management?

Scary, right?

How to Improve Your Self Efficacy

So now we are starting to see why self efficacy is so important for us all, how do we improve it?

1. Check What You Currently Think

It’s no good improving something unless you have a bench mark to compare it with!

So ask yourself honestly on a scale of 1 to 10 these questions (10 being awesome and 1 being awful);

  • How much do you believe in your ability to get the result you want?
  • How much do you believe people respect you?
  • How likely are you to get where you want in life?

You don’t need to be scoring 10 across the board, however, if you gave yourself consistently low scores, then the key to being more successful could lie in improving your self efficacy.

It’s worth remembering a little doubt is good for you. If you score 10 for questions like these, it’s possible that you haven’t really appreciated what is involved or what is going on.

A little healthy doubt is good for you because it means you worry about the outcomes. You want things to go well and you want to apply yourself.

There’s a big difference between being a little nervous about chairing your first meeting (7 out of 10) and being petrified and assuming its going to be the worse experience of your life (1 out of 10).

A little drop in your scores makes you work harder, learn more and practice. All things that mean you then have more control over the result any way.

2. Learn to Love Yourself

You don’t need to go around the streets shouting “Hello, I’m awesome.” However, you do need to internally believe that you are wonderful just the way you are.

A good tester is to say to yourself these sentences (which are highly likely to make you squirm) and see how you feel:

  • I love being me.
  • I’m fabulous.
  • I’m great at what I do.
  • People adore me just the way I am.

Was that an unpleasant experience?

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The thing about self efficacy is that if you lack it, then your self confidence takes a nose dive. And of all the questions I get asked even more than “how do I make more money” is, “how do I build my confidence?”

While most of understand a lack of confidence can impact on your happiness, health and success – few truly invest in building it up.

Not all dips in confidence are obvious. A lack of confidence does not mean you are shy. Plenty of extroverts lack confidence. It’s not about what’s on the outside it is about what is happening on the inside.

The quickest way for me to build someone’s confidence is to help them see who they really are. It’s only in a coaching session do people really get challenged to notice the facts and not the emotive thoughts and beliefs that tear you down. The reason for this is often because you are on this automatic way of thinking that you’ve developed over many years.

And remember, lots of people who have oodles of confidence in some areas of their life can still feel completely exposed and un-confident in other areas of your life. So watch out for that too.

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre said,

“I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself.”

Challenge how you perceive yourself.

Is it true what you believe or are you holding onto a belief that you feel will keep you safe?

3. Challenge Your Comfort Zones

Comfort zones feel good because we feel safe in them. The issue is when we are not safe but trapped by them.

As with a dip in confidence, it can be hard to spot a comfort zone. Successful people will often tell me they have no comfort zone and then as we work together, it becomes obvious that they have an automatic no thought way of thinking and working; that means they have not pushed themselves in that area for years.

The successful professional speaker who told me that they never picked up the phone because “in their industry,” everything is done via email. Guess what happened when we challenged that!

The point was that through the coaching process, we discovered their self efficacy was taking a heavy hit because they believed that if they phoned people, then they’d say the wrong thing and lose out on the contract – far better to email and be able to pose what you want to say, right?

However, what was happening is that their emails were getting lost in a very busy office. The phone call pushed them out of their comfort zone but with coaching so, they believed in the results. Practised what they would say and knew the outcome they wanted, they were able to confidently make the call and stand out for the right reasons.

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Challenge your comfort zones. In my experience, some people like to jump out of their comfort zones and do something scary; and others like to break it down and do tiny little moves that get them out of their comfort zone. Look for clues in your past to advise which would work best for you.

4. Get the Evidence Flowing

One of the reasons we lack self efficacy is because we believe things that aren’t true. We don’t want to look at the evidence that says that no matter how scared we are, we can achieve great things. It feels better to hide from the truth – it’s easier right?

Take at leat 10 minutes to write down on paper all of the amazing things you’ve done.(We want evidence.) This is a confidential document. It’s not showing off, it’s giving yourself proof that you have the skills, attributes and tenacity to get the results you want.

I was working with a person who felt they were not reaching their true potential at work. There were some very formidable people in the work place that they felt they could never live up to. Helping them see that they didn’t need to be someone else and that to do that, they needed to get the evidence at the front of their mind. And then, they could push themselves out of the comfort zones and into the goals they aspired to had a massive impact on their results.

Marilyn Monroe said it beautifully,

“Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.”

So get the evidence that proves you really are that good.

5. Let Other People Build You up, Not Tear You Down

We all know someone that could sap the joy out of a theme park; and we know why we need to keep them away from us. When you build self efficacy it doesn’t matter who you are around, they can’t hurt you any more.

As you become more aware of how you talk to yourself and how you let other people’s words impact on you, you will be able to keep negative people away.

For one client, every time they were with this happiness vampire, they would in their head sing their favourite song. Their favourite song reminded them of the perfect holiday — sunsets that don’t look real, powdery pink sands and palm tree fronds clacking in the distance. It was hard to get any negative energy into that person’s mind when they sang that song.

Know how you will keep other people’s negativity out of you life and know the people who you can rely on to help you improve your self efficacy.

The good people will help to inspire, motivate and support you to see how awesome you are; and that builds faith in what you can do and achieve.

6. Visionary

Lastly, to really improve your self efficacy, you need to challenge what you want;

  • Are you thinking big enough?
  • Have you set big goals?
  • Have you created a plan of action to get you there?
  • Have you drawn a time line to show what will happen by when?
  • What tiny bite size actions need to happen to make your goals a reality?

I’m often told I’m lucky to have achieved what I have.

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Really? Luck?

Could it not be a plan?

If you ask anyone that has achieved what they wanted to in life, yes, there was an element of luck but it was far more about the plan of action. I was lucky to have one of the UK’s top non-fiction publishers ask me to write a book, however, I had spent 3 years positioning myself as a thought leader and ensured the content I got out there mirrored the ultimate goal.

Don’t rely on luck to achieve big. Work out what matters to you most and, then plan how you will get there.

And if you are struggling for ideas on what you really want, take a tip from Da Vinci, Steve Jobs and Einstein all who famously believed in day dreaming. Day dreaming allows us to play with our thoughts and explore the seemingly impossible.

Don’t take my word for it. In this Lifehack article, Judith Fleyshgakker explores 10 reasons why day dreaming is good for you.

Listen out for the quality of your day dreaming and if it’s helping you explore your true potential. This then enables you to clearly define what you want.

As I tell my clients, you don’t need to know how you are going to get there but, you do need to start by knowing where you wish to go. Building a plan of action is easier when you know the destination.

And building a destination helps you to break this down into a workable and actionable set of tasks. That way, instead of seeing a monumental task in front of you, you are able to see little steps. This means the ability to believe you will get there is broken down too. If you fail, you’ve not failed at your big goal, you’ve just stumbled on one small action. That’s far easier to come back from.

Final Thoughts

Self efficacy may not be a word that springs to mind when we want to achieve more and be happy with our lives, but ultimately learning how to improve yours could have multiple implications.

As Mark Twain shared,

“The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.”

So take a moment to ask if you are truly comfortable around you. It’s the starting point to achieving what you really want to.

Featured photo credit: Marcelo Matarazzo via unsplash.com

More by this author

Mandie Holgate

Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside

7 Things To Remember When You Feel Broken Inside

I have been broken many times in my life. I have had life deliver blows that have knocked me to the ground. The pain and the feelings of hopelessness and despair have consumed my life for many months. I wondered if I would ever survive this, or if I would live a life where I felt happy and safe. Slowly, over time, my life got better and I got stronger.

Now when I look back, I realize that these events, though they were painful at the time, were the catalysts for me to change my life. Now I am living my life doing what I love – writing, speaking and coaching.

For us to live our lives to the fullest, the only way we can achieve this is by overcoming the challenges that life throws at us. We have to experience the pain, the betrayal, the adversity, the feelings of hopelessness and the despair in life, because how else do we learn about who we are?

There is no other way for us to learn how to be resilient, courageous, hopeful and optimistic about life and our future.

Though we do not like it, everyone feels broken at some point in their life journey. Often when we find ourselves at this place of despair, we do not know what to do and so we can end up living our life through our fear, regret, pain, disillusionment and sadness. This is not the way our lives are meant to be lived.

When you are feeling broken inside, remember these 7 things as they will help you discover your courage and build your resilience so that you can step out and embrace the joy of living a life you love.

1. Remember to Accept and Anticipate Change

“It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.”  — Dr Leon C. Megginson

In today’s world of constant change, it is hard to hold on to who you are and manage the complexity and unpredictability of life. The one constant thing in our lives today is change.

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Instead of fighting the inevitability of change, learn how to accept it. Embrace change and know that by doing this your life can only get better.

Resisting change will fuel the negative energy that keeps you feeling broken and discouraged about life.

2. Remember to Embrace Your Power Of Choice

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” — Kevyn Aucion

Using your power of choice will enable you to change your approach to life from one where you languish in pain to one where you flourish with joy and hope.

Using your power of choice empowers and strengthens your ability to take action and to make decisions.

Your power of choice is a gift that you have within you that if you choose to use, will transform your life.

3. Remember to Ask For Help

“Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.”  Anne Wilson Schaef

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. When we are feeling so broken inside, we want to hide away from the world. Sometimes, it is because we feel embarrassed, or we believe that people won’t understand what we are going through.

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The support, advice and encouragement from others helps us to overcome adversity and solve problems in our life.

It is the energy and wisdom from friends, family and supporters that fuels our courage and our desire to take action to change our lives for the better.

4. Remember to Be Present

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” — Mother Teresa

Your thoughts fuel how you feel about your life. When you feel broken in your life, it will be your negative thoughts that dictate your feelings of sadness, disillusionment and unhappiness. When you feel joy and happiness, your positive thoughts of hope and self belief will support more of these feelings.

The key to managing your negative thoughts is to practice trying to distance yourself from these thoughts and observe them rather than react automatically to them.

Identify those thoughts that will draw you in and create confusion and inertia within you. Accept that these thoughts do not serve you well and work towards having more control over them.

Label the type of thought you are having rather than paying attention to its content. Observe your thoughts and if you notice a thought that is judging (how good or bad the situation is), label it “judging”.

If you are criticizing yourself for doing something wrong, then label that thought “criticizing”. Then, ask yourself how long you want to spend criticizing and blaming yourself. My suggestion is that you spend zero time doing this activity.

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Some tips for you: How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying

5. Remember to Focus on What Brings You Joy

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain” — Joseph Campbell

When you are feeling despair, frustration and hopelessness, it is easy to forget the good things that are happening in your life. In fact, if you are consumed by negativity, you will start to believe that there is nothing good in your life.

Focusing on what in your life is good and what brings you joy is an important step to you changing your life. The more you focus on the good in your life, the more hopeful you become.

Positivity and hope are contagious and the more you celebrate this, the better you will feel about your life. Here’re some inspirations for you: 32 Things You Should Be Grateful For

6. Remember to Be Hopeful about Your Future

“The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time” — Abraham Lincoln

It is understandable that when you feel broken in life, you can become consumed by the concern that this is what your life will be like forever. It is very hard to be hopeful about the future when you feel so much pain and heartache. However, your pain and heartache will not heal you and deep down inside, you want to be healed – you just don’t know how.

For me, when I felt  broken in my life, the one thing that helped me on my journey of healing was to try and keep hopeful about my future. It was important for me to keep perspective on the fact that what was happening in my life at the time was not a part of my future life. That tiny bit of hope I had about my future was enough for me to slowly start to heal — step by step.

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7. Remember to Accept That Life Is a Mystery

“The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved; it is a reality to be experienced” — Jacobus Johannes Leeuw

Life is a funny thing and the more we fight and resist it, the harder it is to live our life. Accepting and embracing the mystery of life allows us to heal and look at our pain as only one chapter of many chapters in our life.

Life throws us curve balls. It tests us and challenges us. We survive and thrive in life by embracing these challenges so that we can grow and live courageous and resilient lives.

When we feel broken inside, we need to remember that this is part of our journey and that there is no escaping the pain. We just have to work our way through the pain and despair.

Instead of fighting and questioning life and blaming yourself for how you feel, take a deep breath and remember that life is a mystery. Do not make the moments of despair and unhappiness in your life as foundations for how you will live your life forever.

Your role in life is to embrace it – the good the bad and the ugly and to live your life to its fullest – so go live it!

“Ester asked why people are sad. “That’s simple,” says the old man. “They are the prisoners of their personal history. Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams.”  – Paul Coelho, The Zahir.

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Featured photo credit: J’Waye Covington via unsplash.com

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