When tackling a new challenge or learning a new task, it can be easy to feel discouraged by the complications and failures that you inevitably face. How can we prevent burnout and build resilience towards such failures? A 2015 study by Reeve indicates that self-efficacy, or the belief in one’s abilities to successfully accomplish something, could play a key role. Individuals with high self-efficacy attempt difficult things by increasing their effort, modifying their strategy, and staying committed until successfully completing them. On the other hand, if people doubt their own abilities (have low self-efficacy), they see challenges as threats, give up quickly, and lose faith in developing their capabilities further. Notice how individuals with high self-efficacy aren’t necessarily avoiding failure. Instead, they are simply more willing to persevere until they find a successful solution.
So, we know that having high self-efficacy is generally a good thing when attempting to meet goals. However, how do we actually increase our self-efficacy? According to Reeve’s study, an individual’s perception of self-efficacy is influenced by a variety of factors, including past experiences, role models, verbal persuasion (from the self or from others), and one’s physiological and psychological state. In order to build self-efficacy, consider trying out some of the following:
- Seek out a role model or mentor and consider what qualities make them someone that you respect, and what qualities make them so successful.
- Make sure that you are practicing healthy habits such as hydrating, eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep; if you’re not feeling physically well, it’s a lot harder to feel motivated and optimistic!
- Try giving yourself a pep talk (or recruiting a friend to do it for you) or listen to some motivational speeches.
- If you are feeling especially overwhelmed or hopeless, it could also be worthwhile to reach out to a counselor or other mental health professional for additional guidance.
Most importantly, remember that setbacks and failures are not inherently negative things. Instead, they can help you to grow, create innovative solutions, and lead you towards the path of success.
Reeve, J. (2015). Understanding motivation and emotion. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.