How To Improve Self-Efficacy – 2 Exercises For High Self-Efficacy


What feelings and thoughts come up when you are facing a challenge or problem? Do you say to yourself “No problem! I can do that” or are you doubtful and think “I’ll never manage that?”. The answer to this question is an indicator of your level of self-efficacy.


What Is Self-Efficacy? (Definition in Psychology)


Self-efficacy is a person’s belief that they can successfully overcome difficult situations and challenges on their own. Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and abilities. A low degree of self-efficacy often keeps people from tackling tasks and taking action.

People with high self-efficacy believe in their abilities and skills. They approach new challenges with confidence. The term self-efficacy was created in the 1970s by Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura.

Almost everyone has habits they want to change or goals they want to accomplish. But planning things and actually implementing them are different things. Putting plans into action takes more than good intentions. A person’s degree of self-efficacy plays a crucial role in whether and how challenges and goals are tackled.



High And Low Self-Efficacy – Effects And Examples


People with a low sense of self-efficacy…

  • avoid challenging tasks.
  • often believe that difficult tasks and situations are beyond their abilities.
  • often focus on their weaknesses and negative results.
  • are quickly discouraged and lose confidence in their abilities.


People with high self-efficacy…


  • develop a deeper interest in the activities in which they are engaged.
  • approach new challenges with commitment and motivation.
  • are more resilient. They recover quickly from setbacks and bad experiences.
  • are possibility thinkers. They see problems as tasks to be accomplished.


Self-Efficacy vs. Self-Esteem vs. Self-Confidence


Self-efficacy is sometimes used as a synonym for self-esteem or self-confidence, but there are important distinctions between these terms. What is the difference between self-efficacy and self-esteem? Self-efficacy refers to how we feel about our ability to succeed in different situations, while self-esteem or self-worth is defined as the emotional assessment of one’s worth. It is the subjectively felt value that we ascribe to ourselves.

Self-confidence and self-efficacy are very closely related and are often perceived as the same thing. People with high self-efficacy tend to have high self-confidence and self-esteem.


Do I Have High Self-Efficacy? The General Self-Efficacy Scale Helps Measuring


Answering the following questions gives a good overview of the degree of self-efficacy. They are based on the GSE (General Self-Efficacy Scale).

These questions are a great resource at the beginning of coaching. They help to evaluate if the client’s self-efficacy level is high or low:


  • Do you feel like you can overcome challenges?
  • Are you convinced that you can achieve your goals?
  • Do you feel like you can handle unexpected events?
  • Do you feel like you can perform well under pressure?
  • Do you keep trying again and again, even when things seem difficult?
  • Are you able to bounce back relatively quickly after stressful events?
  • Do you feel like you can find solutions when you are facing a problem?
  • Do you manage to stay calm even in stressful situations?
  • Do you tend to focus on your progress rather than feeling overwhelmed by all you still have to do?
  • Do you believe that hard work will eventually pay off?


How To Increase And Improve Self-Efficacy

People with high self-efficacy perceive difficult tasks as challenges and tackle them with confidence and determination. Self-efficacy helps implement and sustain new habits and behaviors. There are several ways to increase and improve self-efficacy:


Observing the experiences of others

Our self-efficacy tends to increase when we observe how another person successfully masters a certain task. This observation is especially helpful when that person is very similar to us. Typical thoughts that come up are:
“If he or she can do it, then I can do it too!”

We see that it is possible to accept the challenge and overcome it.



Encouragement from others can also improve self-efficacy. Especially people close to us can make sure that we believe in ourselves by motivating us. The good feeling that others trust our abilities and skills often increases the trust in ourselves.


Positive physical and emotional feelings

The better our state of mind and the more positive our emotions, the higher our self-efficacy. When we are sick, tired, or depressed, we trust our abilities less. On the other hand, as soon as we feel good and motivated, we trust ourselves much more.


Overcoming limiting and negative beliefs

Most of us carry around these unconscious beliefs that come from past experiences and that affect our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Often they have been developed over years and some even come from our childhood. Many of these beliefs are so familiar that we don’t even realize them.

Thoughts and beliefs like „I don’t have time for that…“ or „I’m too old/young/lazy/stupid for that“ create our reality. We will experience what we already knew before. Limiting and negative beliefs act like a perception filter. In this vicious cycle, we will experience exactly what we believe in and low self-efficacy is the result.


How to get rid of negative thoughts and limiting beliefs in three steps:


  1. Self-Reflection and self-evaluation: Becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
  2. Uncover negative thought patterns and limiting beliefs and dispute them
  3. Control your thoughts better and replace negative thoughts/beliefs with positive ones


The Ultimate Mindset Change and Thought Control Toolkit with its 7 Worksheets are a great help on the way to a higher self-efficacy.


Personal experience

The ultimate booster to high self-efficacy, however, is our own experience and sense of achievement. Ultimately, there is no substitute for them. A sense of achievement is the experience of having mastered a challenge or task through one’s effort and ability. Repairing the car by ourselves will give us a real sense of achievement.

Positive experiences and a sense of achievement are the best way to increase self-efficacy. After all, we have experienced firsthand that we can successfully handle challenges or worthwhile tasks. The more experiences we have over time, the higher becomes our self-efficacy.


These Two Exercises Help Improving and Increasing Self-Efficacy

As already mentioned, our own experiences are the best way to increase self-efficacy. Here are two useful exercises that can be easily implemented in your everyday life.


Consciously Try New Things

Try out new things regularly. This could be done by finding new ways to complete tasks at work or to look at them from a different perspective. Trying new things can be as easy as experimenting with new recipes or finding new hobbies. Try not to overwhelm yourself and start slow. Every experience and a small sense of achievement will increase your self-efficacy. Ask yourself questions like:

What could I try out today? Where could I experience something new today?


Write A Success Journal

Many of our positive experiences and feelings of success get lost In the hustle and bustle of everyday life. A success journal brings awareness to the things we have mastered and accomplished throughout the day. Writing down successes and positive experiences ensures that they stay present, and that increases self-efficacy over time. Try to start by writing down the answers to the following two questions every evening. Do this at least for four weeks and see how it works:

What was my biggest success today? In which situation was I positively surprised by myself?


Here are 10 professional Coaching Tools that will help you to increase your self-efficacy, silence their inner critic and walk through life with confidence: