Self Efficacy and Motivation

Uncategorized Oct 23, 2016

Because self efficacy has a significant impact on how you approach tasks in your life, it's worthwhile to understand this concept and what affects it.

What is self efficacy?

Your self efficacy is your estimate of what you think you’re capable of achieving in different situations.  It determines the aspirations you have for yourself and the goals you will set in your life.  This is different from self confidence which is more of an appraisal of your self worth and how you approach situations in general.  

You formed opinions of your different abilities based on what you experienced in your life.  Perhaps you had few opportunities to stretch yourself or perhaps you took on very difficult goals and failed so now you’re afraid to go for more. As a result, you don't feel very capable of handling certain kinds of challenges. This limits what you do. However, you can act to change this situation.

Relationship to Goal Setting, Motivation and Performance

Beyond affecting the goals you set for yourself, self efficacy has significant implications for your well-being, motivation and performance.  

Low amounts can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair.  If you don’t think success is possible, why would you be inclined to try?  As a result, such people tend to set easy goals for themselves that they can be sure they can accomplish.  When they encounter obstacles, they are more likely to give up.  By not stretching themselves, their motivation and performance also suffers.

In contrast, people with high self-efficacy tend to tackle challenges because they believe they will succeed.  They are optimistic which is conducive to well being.  They approach tasks because they enjoy using their abilities and improving their skills.  They expect success and are more likely to get it because they focus on the task at hand.  They sustain their effort and persevere when they accomplish obstacles.  By experiencing success, they feel prepared for more challenging tasks thus increasing their motivation and performance.

How can you improve your self efficacy?

The most powerful way is by engaging directly in tasks in which you experience a feeling of mastery.  Feelings of mastery foster intrinsic motivation which increases your engagement with tasks.  You will then be more likely to persist in overcoming challenges and believe you have what it takes to succeed.  You can start with something slightly challenging and build to more demanding ones.  Subsequent positive experiences will continue to fuel your self efficacy and make you more resilient to failure.

Learning from role models that are similar to yourself and are performing similar tasks is also effective, especially if you learn relevant knowledge and strategies that will help you succeed.

Others persuading you that you will succeed, social persuasion, is also helpful, especially when it encourages you to exert effort at tasks.  If you don’t have a supportive other, then try daily affirmations and journaling to remind yourself that you can succeed.  

Persisting at tasks will then help you develop the skills you need and convince you that you can be successful.

Finally, somatic and emotional states play a role by affecting your mood and thoughts.  Feelings of excitement compared to anxiety are conducive to action.  Similarly, positive emotions support feelings of self efficacy and vice versa.  Cognitive behavioral strategies in which you attend to your moods and coach yourself through your thoughts can be useful in this case.

Your Way Ahead

Plan to improve your self efficacy mostly through engaging in mastery experiences; find role models to learn effective strategies; keep your thoughts constructive; believe you can improve your chances of success through effort, persistence and the use of proper strategies; acknowledge your successes to continue to improve and engage in ever more challenging tasks.


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