Self Efficacy

Self-efficacy is the belief that you can perform tasks well and achieve desired outcomes. Albert Bandura, the psychologist who originally proposed this concept, defines self-efficacy as “people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise their influence over events that affect their lives” (Bandura, 1994). Put simply, it is the belief that you can control and shape your future based on your own actions and decisions.

Self-efficacy has been shown to influence how people think, feel, and act. High self-efficacy, in addition to other factors such as optimism, coping strategies, and strong social relations, strengthens one’s resilience—the capacity to recover quickly from adverse situations. Scholars have found that self-efficacy influences both the power one has to face challenges and the choices made. Having high levels of general self-efficacy may protect against stress at work, and health behaviors can be altered by self-efficacy interventions. [1]

You can enhance your own self-efficacy though various practices: [2]

Set goals, especially simple goals (i.e., look at one resource to help manage my wellness each day/each week)

  • Your goals become more manageable and attainable when you strive to meet small goals daily. This allows you to enjoy each success & build confidence along the way.
  • Create a roadmap of smaller goals that lead to a primary goal.

Take a “big picture” approach

  • It is easy to get bogged down in the stressors of the present, particularly during a pandemic and while engaging in difficult, and even dangerous, work.
  • Reflecting on other goals you hope to achieve through your work can help improve self-efficacy & allow you to refocus your energy.

Complete the “Three Things” Exercise

  • List three things you did in the past week that went well.
  • How did they make you feel?
  • What are three things you hope to accomplish in the next several weeks or months?
  • How will you feel once accomplishing those things?

Engage in positive self-talk

  • Set aside several minutes each day to “check-in” with yourself—recognize your accomplishments & reflect on what is going well or not well.

Reflect on your achievements—gather evidence of your achievements daily

Practice self-awareness through journaling

Consider taking the “Who I Am” assessment—aims to enhance self-efficacy by increasing your awareness of self

Have the courage to speak up and speak out

Intentionally employ coping strategies

  • Put into practice strategies that have worked for you in the past during times of stress. These can include getting enough rest and finding respite time during work or between shifts, eating meals (ideally, healthy food, on a schedule), engaging in physical activity and staying in contact (with appropriate social distancing) with family and friends.2

Support your colleagues and find inspiration in their stories (stories which may highlight experiences similar to your own) 

Realize that perceived failures are due to insufficient knowledge or resources and NOT level of ability 

Remember that experiencing success in smaller tasks builds confidence and seeing others accomplish related tasks builds confidence that you, too, can complete the task (so be a cheerleader for others!). Lastly, the way we perceive and interpret our emotional reactions (as opposed to focusing on the intensity of the reaction) can assist with stress and build self-efficacy.


[1] Warner, L., Perceived Self-Efficacy and its Relationship to Resilience, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-4939-3_10.


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