Don’t stop believin’
Believing that you are capable of doing something has been shown to be a major determinant of success. Albert Bandura is a psychologist who introduced the term “self-efficacy” to describe the psychological phenomenon that enhances goal achievement. According to Bandura, a self-efficacy belief is:
“The belief in one’s capabilities to organize and execute the courses of action required to manage prospective situations.”[i]
In other words, if you believe you can do something you are much more likely to achieve it and if you don’t believe you can achieve it you are more likely to fail. This means that as well as setting life goals that are important and meaningful to you, you also need to believe that they are achievable.
People who have high self-efficacy also develop higher emotional resilience – the ability to bounce back from failure, mistakes or set-backs. They also see failures as a learning opportunity and use their past experiences to achieve success.
Thomas Jefferson, Walt Disney and J.K Rowling are well-known high achievers with high self-efficacy because they experienced significant failure on their route to achieving significant success.
To increase the chance of your goals becoming a reality you can use the following techniques:
- Break your goal down into a series of smaller, more achievable, milestones and celebrate the success of reaching them.
- Find a mentor, friend or colleague to give you encouragement and support.
- Picture how your life will be when you have achieved your various goals, and what they will mean to you. The more you can paint a picture in your mind of your future self, the more you’ll be motivated to do what it takes when the going gets tough.
- Cultivate happiness and a positive outlook by integrating as many things into your life which lift your mood and help you to remain positive, such as music, exercise, comedy, hobbies or social interactions.
- Be pragmatic when you start to doubt yourself. Accept you are only human and not perfect but don’t let it dominate your thinking.
- Focus on progress towards your goal, not achieving perfection.
You might want to review your goals to make sure that they are still important to you and then recommit to achieving them. Whenever you think you are starting to doubt yourself I suggest you listen to Journey’s classic song - Don’t stop believin’. Just make sure that you have it really loud!
[i] Bandura, 1995, p.2