When faced with difficult situations do you rise to the challenge or raise the white flag of surrender? Are you more like the famed engine from the classic children’s story, The Little Engine That Could, telling yourself, “I think I can, I think I can! I think I can!!”? Or do you find yourself stuck at the station, doubting your abilities to face life’s challenges?
According to the American Psychological Association, self-efficacy is “the confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment.” Self-efficacy plays a big role in our self-image and belief that we can accomplish our life’s goals. It’s the fuel in our engine to make us believe that we can do it, and take the steps to get there.
People with high self-efficacy tend to be highly motivated because they’re focused on positive outcomes, are passionate about their activities, and easily rebound from setbacks. It’s a necessary characteristic for success.
How do you build self-efficacy within? Psychologist Albert Bandura identified 4 key sources of self-efficacy to help you keep your momentum going when facing life’s challenges.
The next time you find yourself doubting your abilities remember the Little Engine That Could, add some high-octane fuel to your tank, and tell yourself, “I KNOW I can, I KNOW I can!”
Habitual lateness. Extreme disorganization. Not following up sales leads. Self-sabotage takes on a variety of guises and affects people of all ages, professions and economic levels. But it always leads to our not living the life we want for ourselves.
Take this Self-Quiz to see whether you might be working against yourself in some areas.
1. It takes me at least a half hour to locate a document I need to send to someone.
2. I can be indecisive and fearful; as a result, chances often pass me by.
3. I tend to start projects with great gusto, but have great difficulty finishing them.
4. My financial situation is chronically chaotic.
5. My actions often jeopardize my relationships, my job and/or my financial stability.
6. I worry a lot about what others think of me.
7. I tend to give in to compulsive behaviors to overeat or partake excessively in unhealthy substances or activities.
8. I seem to be always struggling.
9. I’ve been told I have a problem expressing anger appropriately.
10. I often put off the things I need and want to do. Procrastination and reliability are problems for me.
11. I’m still not living the life I truly want, and I’m starting to lose hope that I ever will.
12. When I really want to do something, I frequently have the thought that I can’t or shouldn’t do it.
13. My relationships tend to eventually fall apart, or I stay in unhealthy relationships.
14. When I think about working out, I immediately start thinking about all the other things I “should” be doing instead. Exercise rarely wins.
15. I’m often late to work and late with assignments; this has hurt my career.
16. I avoid confrontation and/or fawn over others in order to be liked and win their favor.
17. I repeatedly make self-deprecating, belittling comments about myself.
18. I know I have the potential to do more with my life, if I could just get out of my own way.
Self-defeating behaviors often mask a fear of change and growing; when we deliberately hamper our own efforts, we get to avoid the knowledge that our life is up to us, and that we do, indeed, get to choose. Just imagine the life we could be having if we put as much energy and creativity into manifesting our goals as we do avoiding them. It’s not easy to change self-sabotaging patterns, but with time and practice—and a good dose of self-love—it is possible to end a self-defeating cycle and live the life we truly want for ourselves.
Yellow Brick Road Coaching, LLC used under license, © 2008 Claire Communications
Imagine the space this article fills as blank.
Imagine the time and energy it might have taken someone who procrastinates to:
1) think about doing the article,
2) put it on a list of “to dos,”
3) talk about doing it,
4) promise to start it tomorrow,
5) promise to definitely start it tomorrow,
6) promise…well, you get the point.
As the deadline for the article draws near (it’s midnight the night before the article is due), imagine the stress the writer must feel as he or she brews a pot of coffee and sets up for a couple of hours to research the topic, organize the information, create an outline, come up with a dynamite opening line, write the article, rewrite the article, rewrite it again, print it out and rewrite it one more time. And, of course, the whole time he or she is beating their self-up for waiting so long to start and telling their self they’re not good at this job anyway and the article will be a bust.
This is procrastination in full, weedy flower. Delay. Broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. Feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Worry. Fear. Stress. Overwork and probably not as good an end product as the writer would have produced if they’d tackled the job in a timely, reasonable, professional manner.
Procrastination isn’t good for anyone, anytime. So why do so many do it? Not just around such matters as filing income tax and completing holiday shopping, but with everyday tasks such as cleaning off the desk or straightening up the garage or starting a project at work.
The more difficult, inconvenient or scary the task is perceived to be, the more procrastinators procrastinate. They come up with semi-convincing self-talk that makes the delay appear reasonable, but in the end it’s a self-defeating behavior that causes all sorts of problems, not the least of which is stress.
Following are a few remedies to overcome procrastination:
1. Set goals. Decide what you want and what needs to happen to get it. Be specific. Create a realistic timetable.
2. Commit. Make a contract with yourself. Tell a friend or co-worker or family member your plan. Ask for help when you need it.
3. Set priorities. Make a list of things that need to be done in order of their importance.
4. Get organized. Have the right tools and equipment to do the job. Make lists. Keep a schedule.
5. Think small. Don’t let the whole of the project overwhelm you. Stay in the present and do what you are doing.
6. Break tasks into parts. The “Swiss cheese” approach to getting any major project completed is to break it apart and work on one piece at a time. Reward yourself when you complete one step.
7. Use positive self-talk.
8. Replace excuses with rational, realistic thinking.
9. Realize there is no such thing as perfection. Begin the thing knowing it can never be done perfectly. You’ll do your best. You always do.
10. Reward yourself. Often and generously for accomplishing the smallest of tasks. Celebrate. Pat yourself on the back. Enjoy your accomplishment.
Like many other self-defeating behaviors, procrastination can be overcome. The place to begin is where you are.
The time to start is now.
Terri O'Donnell is a certified Life Coach. She is an honest, straight shooter who is dedicated to using her training and experience to help people live the life they desire.