Efficacy: Are You Eff'ing Strong?
If you find you have trouble getting started on projects or imagining yourself trying new things, low self-efficacy could be a major contributor.
You might feel stuck in your everyday habits and uncertain of what life would be like outside of them.
The good news is that this isn’t something you have to live with forever. Read on to know more about the impact self-efficacy has on your life and habits, and how you can improve it to feel more capable and fulfilled.
What is Self-Efficacy?
Social psychologist Albert Bandura defines self-efficacy as, “an individual's belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments.” It is an important component in decision-making, setting goals, and changing habits.
Internal and external factors contribute to self-efficacy. Of course, it takes time to build it. Some people may have higher self-efficacy given their environment growing up or accomplishments, while others have to put extra work in to build up their foundation.
No matter where you begin with your self-efficacy, know that it can always be improved, providing you with more confidence and resilience.
The Purpose of Self-Efficacy
Self-efficacy helps you get out into the world and accomplish what you set your mind to. It applies to many avenues of life: applying to new jobs, trying new hobbies, and displaying your skills publicly. Self-efficacy gives you the backup you need to push yourself to new heights.
It is also of increasing significance to substance use recovery programs. The same tools that people living in recovery use can be applied to everyday life, from decreasing your screen time to consciously and healthily modifying your diet.
Shifts in Self-Efficacy
Your self-concept will change over time, so it’s important to recognize when this happens and know this won’t be true forever. Your sense of self-efficacy can decrease when difficulties happen, such as losing a job or relationship. How are you to venture out and try new things if you feel you cannot accomplish them in the first place? Thankfully, self-efficacy is not immutable and can be rebuilt after we face hardship.
Tips for Improving Self-Efficacy
Plan Incremental Goals
Take some time to create an inventory of your successes and what you would like to accomplish. These goals should be a combination of potential milestones on the road to improving your self-efficacy and further-reaching goals that you might not be able to see yourself completing right now.
If you find your goals are more mundane than some lofty aim like, “climb a mountain,” be compassionate with yourself. Try to understand where you are coming from right now, and know that you can always list bigger things later on in the list. If you’re concerned about your drinking habits, for example, you could set a goal to decrease your intake by a drink or two a week.
This may be an incremental process for you, and that’s okay--any progress is progress to honor and include in your list of victories.
Studies in self-efficacy have found quantifying this trait difficult and elusive. Part of the reason for this is that in a laboratory environment, people tend to give higher scores for their self-efficacy due to the lack of complexity at the moment. It’s possible you could plan to react in a specific way and find you do something different when the time arises; this is very normal!
Improving your self-efficacy is a process, not a single point to achieve. If you work to build your self-efficacy up, you will likely have an easier time recovering from difficulties.
Share The Journey
As much as the name might imply self-efficacy is an individual pursuit, as mentioned before, self-efficacy is influenced by internal and external factors. You can use this to your advantage by talking to friends and family about your goals and celebrating one another’s accomplishments together.
One way to build self-efficacy according to Positive Psychology is to spend time with people who motivate you. Seeing others achieve what they set out to do can help inspire you to push harder.
Keeping an open dialogue with trusted friends or family about your goals will also give you accountability. If you know that being actively pushed to improve is necessary for you, try and set up a regular time to talk to someone about where you’re at. Are deadlines the only way you’ll make progress? Then you can set these with someone close to you and hold to your deadlines together.
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