Why Self-Efficacy Matters and How to Achieve It

04 October 2021
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By Ben Schoelzel
Steward at Samaṇa

Imagine you’ve adopted the habit of taking a daily run.

One day you notice a sign that says there will be a marathon in your city. Would you see it as a fun challenge or something out of your reach? Suppose you do sign up and the marathon ends up unexpectedly difficult: the hills feel steeper than you thought and the day is warmer than forecasted. Would you quit or keep trying? If you kept going and made it to finish line in 6 instead of 4 hours, would you hold that timing against you or give yourself a pat on the back and train harder next time?

All your answers to these questions are directly related to what it means to have self-efficacy.
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Self-efficacy involves believing in our ability to make a difference in the world.

Definition of self-efficacy

Self-efficacy involves believing in our ability to make a difference in the world. It also includes how well we can actually cope with a given situation and its outcome. For instance, a student with high self-efficacy is one who believes they can pass an exam, balances their emotions during the exam itself as to not become overwhelmed with the stress, and handles the result well — whether that is celebrating a good score or being self-kind if they don’t pass.

Benefits of high self-efficacy

Working on our self-efficacy matters because it comes with great rewards.

It makes us more likely to set higher goals for ourselves and stay committed to them. Difficult situations become more of an exciting challenge rather than a scary threat. And even if we fail, high self-efficacy helps us realize that things went wrong not because we are a failure, but because we were not ready or didn’t put enough effort into it.

Self-efficacy helps us develop our skills or get us closer to our goals, making us feel good and get a self-esteem boost. It has also been linked to benefits such as:

  • higher resilience
  • healthier habits
  • better work performance
  • academic success
  • reduced stress
  • lower chance of depression
Additionally, feeling more capable can lead us to take smarter risks and be more confident in facing current challenges... but how to get there?

Achieving high self-efficacy

You may have heard the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and according to renowned psychologist Albert Bandura, high self-efficacy can be built that way. Strange as it may sound, failing is good. It teaches us that getting to our goals takes effort and consistency. Basically, when we make it through difficult times, we prove to ourselves that we’ve got what it takes. Of course, this doesn’t mean we should aim to fail, but that we should be open to learning from it. On the other hand, succeeding helps us prove ourselves and reassure our sense of self-efficacy.

Another way to increase our self-efficacy is by finding successful peers to look up to. Watching people similar to us “making it”, boosts the belief that if they can, so can we. So it’s good to surround ourselves with others who are somehow similar to us and who work hard towards their goals. Similarly, having people close to us who believe in our skills and cheer us on can help us boost our sense of self-efficacy.

Finally, there’s managing our attitude towards stress. This means that if we think of stress as a force that pushes us forward instead of something that weakens us, we can reach high levels of self-efficacy and success.

It’s good to keep in mind that success doesn’t necessarily just mean to reach our goals. Progress is also an accomplishment in itself and it can even be measured thanks to tests specially designed for that.

Improving self-efficacy is a journey, not a destination. Yet, it can be tricky to get started. If you need some help with taking the next step, feel free to book a free discovery call with one of our Stewards! Samaṇa can support you in #AlifeWellLived. You can find out how it works here.
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The information in this article is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult a professional for guidance about a specific condition.