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Why developing self-efficacy should be your priority in 2023

Self-efficacy refers to a person's belief in their ability to achieve a goal or handle a task to completion in a particular situation. Like a psychological fight or flight instinct.

Why developing self-efficacy  should be your priority in 2023

The internet is awash with words like self-esteem, self confidence, self-worth, self-control, among others. They all describe an aspect of the self's mechanism to survive and thrive. One can't help but wonder if, like the self is central to experience, there's one word (trait) that actively combines all the above mentioned words.

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Enter self-efficacy. It includes a person's confidence in themselves to control their behaviour, exert influence over their environment and sustain motivation in pursuit of their goal.

According to psychologist Albert Bandura's social cognitive theory, this trait combines one's attitudes, abilities and mental skills. Since he published his paper in 1977 "Self Efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioural Change" the subject has dominated studied topics in psychology.

It takes stock of actionable personal aspects to drive success. It can be general or show up in different situations and territory for different people, including school, work, relationships, among others.

While self-esteem, self-confidence, and the like are highly concerned with how one feels about themselves in a situation, self-efficacy is concerned with what one can 'do' in a situation while also taking stock of how one feels.

It is easy to identify what goals one wants to accomplish, things to change and those to achieve. Matching action to these plans is the hard part. Self-efficacy is the driving force behind this action.

  • It impacts mental states, behaviour and energy (motivation).
  • It determines what goals one pursues, how one accomplishes those goals and how one reflects on their own performance.
  • It dictates how one feels about their place in the world

It starts from childhood, as one deals with various experiences, situations and tasks. But it does not end there. It evolves throughout life with new skills, understanding and experiences.

Here are four sources of self-efficacy according to Bandura

Performing tasks successfully is a source of validation that strengthens a sense of capabiliry. The opposite, failing to deal with a task, undermines that sense of self-efficacy.

"The most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences," Bandura explained.

Watching others successfully complete a task is also an important source. "Seeing people similar to oneself succeed by sustained effort raises observers' beliefs that they too possess the capabilities to master comparable activities to succeed," he said.

He asserted that it is possible to persuade people to believe that they possess skills and capacity to succeed. Such things as verbal encouragement from others can help people overcome self-doubt and instead achieve focus on their best efforts.

Environmental stimuli is important, but personal responses and emotional reactions can impact how one feels about their abilities. Mood, stress levels, physical reactions, emotional reactions can weaken or strengthen self-efficacy in a particular situation.

Interestingly, Bandura notes that learning to manage and minimise psychological challenges and elevate moodc, alone, during challenging tasks and situations also improves the sense of self-efficacy.

Depending on individual levels of self-efficacy, looking at hardships as either challenges or threats can affect how tasks or situations are handled. High self-efficacy in a person shows up in interest in a task. In such a person, difficulty and failure mean finding new perspective and increasing effort.

"A person struggling to manage a chronic illness feels confident that they can get back on track and improve their health by working hard and following their doctor's recommendations."

"A student who feels confident that they will be able to learn the information and do well on a test."

"Someone who has just accepted a job position in a role they have never performed before but feels that they have the ability to learn and perform the job well."

"Maintaining a weight loss plan, managing chronic pain, giving up alcohol, sticking to an exercise schedule, and following an eating plan can all be influenced by a person's levels of self-efficacy."

As we grow, certain experiences are easier to handle than others, so it is hard to attain self-efficacy to deal everything. However, it is possible to develop self-efficacy in particular areas that can offer cushioning

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