What Is Self-Efficacy and 
How Is It Controlling Your Life?


What is self-efficacy? The answer to this question has a powerful determining effect on life that very few of us fully appreciate. With strong self-efficacy in place - many things are possible. Without it, real possibilities wither into pipe dreams. Awareness of this quality is central to any positive life change you intend.

What Is Self-Efficacy?

Let's look at some central ideas from Wikipedia's definition of self-efficacy (emphasis added - not in the original):

"Self-efficacy is the extent or strength of one's belief in one's own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.


This can be seen as the ability to persist and a person's ability to succeed with a task. As an example, self-efficacy directly relates to how long someone will stick to a workout regimen or a diet. High and low self-efficacy determine whether or not someone will choose to take on a challenging task or "write it off" as impossible.

Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavor. By determining the beliefs a person holds regarding his or her power to affect situations, it strongly influences both the power a person actually has to face challenges competently and the choices a person is most likely to make."


What is self-efficacy and how's it controlling your life? The self-efficacy definition above gives us some clues to start. To summarize, self-efficacy is that within you which determines the following three things...

  • The extent of belief in your ability to complete a task or goal.

  • The likelihood that you will follow-up on a task or goal you've already started.

  • The likelihood that you'll start a challenging goal to begin with.

To better understand what self-efficacy really is, let's take a look at these three aspects in a bit more depth...

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Self-Efficacy As Inner-Belief

Self-efficacy is nothing more, or less, than an inner belief. It's the belief in your own personal power - in your power to do. It's internal expression can be summed up in four words:

'I can do this!' 

[showing that self-efficacy is strong]

'I can't do this!'

[indicating low self-efficacy]

Self-efficacy will either hold you back from achieving your intentions (when it's weak) or propel you towards them (when it's strong). With this perspective it would be easy to see the importance of self-efficacy in entrepreneurship as well as many other self-directed evolutionary endeavors. 

Two Ways to Experience a Belief

There are two ways to experience a belief...

One way is to experience a belief as an idea in the mind. The other way is to experience belief as an inner-knowing. The latter way of experiencing belief is what determines your self-efficacy more than anything else.

To say to yourself, for example, that "I can do this!", isn't necessarily a reflection of self-efficacy built strong. After all, it wouldn't be the first (or last) time we ever tried to convince ourselves of something that wasn't yet really true for us, now would it?

This is a belief that is an idea in the mind.

Not that there's anything wrong with a belief that is still just an idea in the mind. It can be a great precursor to developing the real thing. And what is the real thing? What is self-efficacy in its essence?...

It's not only saying to yourself "I can do this!" - it's actually knowing it. It's to know, down to your very marrow, that you can. This is the epitome of self-efficacy, defined.

Self-Efficacy and Your Motivation

How to tell if you're connecting with a true inner-knowing, rather than still just experiencing belief as an idea in the mind? How do you know you've crossed the border between wishing to believe and actually believing? How do you know you're building self-efficacy strong?

Your body holds the key.

When you truly believe you can succeed at something - you'll know it. You'll know it because you'll have the motivation, determination and perseverance to match.

You'll take action. You'll be moving towards your goal. And you won't give up - because you know that you can. The achievement is so real to you that you can already taste it. 

Self-efficacy and initiative are intimately connected. The inner-knowing "I can!" and the motivation to take action are inseparable.

The Struggle to Achieve

If you don't truly believe you can - if you suffer from low self-efficacy regarding the particular task at hand - you'll struggle. You'll struggle to find the motivation, determination and perseverance to even begin - let alone follow through to completion.

Challenge and struggle are a significant part of any evolutionary path leading to meaningful life change. However there's an essential difference - like night and day - between struggling to achieve something and struggling to believe something.

Struggling to achieve something builds character, inner-strength and resilience. It's a process - an inspired path to follow. Belief, on the other hand, isn't a process - it's a decision. We're either ready to believe (make that decision) or we aren't. "Do, or do not - there is no try", as Yoda's wisdom would tell us.

Yet, how to arrive at such a bold decision? How to cross the chasm between wanting to believe (no matter how strong our desire may be  - it isn't enough) and finally believing? How do you come to truly believe you can, when you currently just don't?

This is a matter of increasing self-efficacy, which is a topic that will be covered in follow-up inspirational articles on this site. Hope you enjoyed exploring the question 'what is self-efficacy?'. Stay tuned for more!

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