Self efficacy -what does it mean?
- The extent or strength of a person’s belief in their own ability to complete tasks and reach goals.
- The capacity to persist and to succeed with a task. (For 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.
Here is a short and sweet self efficacy assessment. I used this for myself to find my own general self efficacy score. (Directions: Choose your answer to each statement then press the score the exercise button to get immediate feedback.)
How does it relate to walking?
Self efficacy is a relatively new term coined in 1977 by psychologist Albert Bandura. As a young term in a very young field of study, it still stumps psychologists today. Why do some people seem to have a lot and others not so much?
People with high self efficacy feel empowered to master challenges and brush off hardships. Those with less, have a tougher time achieving goals. When a person doesn’t have a strong belief in their ability to succeed, feelings of helplessness, anxiety and depression can further complicate or inhibit their success. Here is a link to some more information on the topic.
The good news is – we can all enhance our feelings of self efficacy. With exercise, it boils down to a feeling of mastery.
Ask yourself a question, am I able to go for a walk? Yes, I can do that. Then, as nike says “just do it.” Go for one short 10 minute walk and there it is… mastery. A baby step towards success. You are building your self efficacy as well as your health in one 10 minute bout. Today, you are a master! Day 1 = goal met.
Day 2? Ah…this may be when the problem comes up.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine “sometimes exercise comes with negative effects on one’s quality of life – sweating, muscle and joint soreness, injury, time constraints, feelings of fear or embarrassment, or threats to personal relationships.” These negatives can become barriers which inhibit our regular exercise success. “I feel sore. I don’t have time. My family gets mad when I go out. I don’t want my neighbors to see me.”
At this particular point in time, it’s important to believe in yourself – push through the negatives to make a positive. Remember…you are a master. Keep building your exercise self efficacy with another baby step. Get out and take another 10 minute walk. There it is – success, one more time. Day 2 = goal met.
After the second walk, jump up and down, twirl, and loudly shout “woo-hoo” because you did it! Still the master…you are persisting, you are succeeding. Guess what? You are overcoming challenges!
As you keep trying, your self efficacy builds and gets stronger. This is how it’s done.