By Caroline Smith and the Mind Tools Team
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How Self-Confident Are You?

Improving Self-Confidence by Building Self-Efficacy

Test your self-confidence

© iStockphoto
FrancescoCorticchia

Do you feel energized about life?

How self-confident do you feel? Are you full of it, or do you wish you had more of it?

Whether someone demonstrates self-confidence by being decisive, trying new things, or staying in control when things get difficult, a person with high self-confidence seems to live life with passion and enthusiasm. Other people tend to trust and respect these confident individuals, which helps them build even more self-confidence – and so the cycle continues.

However, it’s not always easy to initiate that cycle. So, where do you begin?

A good place to start is to look at how effective you believe you are in handling and performing specific tasks. This is termed 'self-efficacy,' and it plays an important part in determining your general levels of self-confidence.

Albert Bandura is one of the leading researchers into self-efficacy. His self-efficacy theory explains the relationship between the belief in one’s abilities and how well a person actually performs a task or a range of actions. Bandura says that 'self-efficacy' and 'confidence' are not quite the same thing. Confidence is a general, not a specific, strength of belief. On the other hand, self-efficacy is the belief in one's capabilities to achieve something specific.

If people have high self-efficacy in an area, then they think, feel, and behave in a way that contributes to and reinforces their success, and improves their personal satisfaction. They're more likely to view obstacles as challenges to overcome, so they aren't afraid to face new things. They recover quickly from setbacks, because they view failure more as a result of external circumstances than internal weaknesses. In general, believing in your abilities affects your motivation, your choices, your toughness, and your determination.

Therefore, self-confidence – by way of self-efficacy – often affects how well you perform, and how satisfied you are with the choices you make. This is why it's important to understand your current level of self-efficacy, particularly in the context of your belief in your ability to perform in a variety of situations. In so doing, you will be able to identify areas where you can improve, and make a plan to do so.

Does your self-confidence affect your ability to perform? Take this short quiz and find out.

How Self-Confident Are You?

Instructions

For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the 'wrong direction'. When you are finished, please click the 'Calculate My Total' button at the bottom of the test.

Your last quiz results are shown.

You last completed this quiz on , at .

14 Statements to Answer

Not at All Rarely Sometimes Often Very Often
1 I do what I think is expected of me, rather than what I believe to be "right."
2 I handle new situations with relative comfort and ease.
3 I feel positive and energized about life.
4 If something looks difficult, I avoid doing it.
5 I keep trying, even after others have given up.
6 If I work hard to solve a problem, I'll find the answer.
7 I achieve the goals I set for myself.
8 When I face difficulty, I feel hopeless and negative.
9 I relate to people who work very hard, and still don't accomplish their goals.
10 People give me positive feedback on my work and achievements.
11 I need to experience success early in a process, or I won't continue.
12 When I overcome an obstacle, I think about the lessons I've learned.
13 I believe that if I work hard, I'll achieve my goals.
14 I have contact with people of similar skills and experience who I consider successful.
Total = 0

Score Interpretation

Score Comment
14-32

You probably wish you had more self-confidence! Take a closer look at all the things you've achieved in your life. You may tend to focus more on what you don't have, and this takes time and attention away from recognizing and using your skills and talents. Read this article for everyday tips on building your self-confidence. (Read below to start.)

33-51

You're doing an OK job of recognizing your skills, and believing in your abilities. But perhaps you’re a little too hard on yourself, and this may stop you from getting the full benefit of your mastery experiences. Review our tips to find out how to improve your self-confidence. (Read below to start.)

52-70

Excellent! You're doing a fabulous job of learning from every experience, and not allowing obstacles to affect the way you see yourself. But you need to nurture your self-confidence, so use the tips below to ensure that your life remains full of validation and success. (Read below to start.)

Building Self-Confidence

No matter what your self-confidence level is right now, you can probably improve it. But you need to believe in yourself and your capabilities before anyone else will.

Bandura's theory of self-efficacy is a great place to start looking for ways to improve the way you see your abilities. According to the theory, there are four sources of self-efficacy:

  1. Mastery experiences – things you have succeeded at in the past.
  2. Vicarious experiences – seeing people who are similar to you succeed.
  3. Social persuasion – hearing from others that you're capable.
  4. Emotional status – staying positive, and managing stress.

Three of these sources (the first, second, and fourth) are within your control, so we'll look at them more closely. However, while we can’t force people to say good things about us (the third source), we can increase the likelihood of receiving positive feedback by being more confident in general.

Developing Mastery Experiences

(Questions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

The more success you experience, the more success you're likely to enjoy in the future. But if success comes too easily, it probably won't contribute to your self-confidence. Mastery experiences are those achievements where you know that it was your hard work and effort that brought about success.

To enjoy these types of experiences, work on motivation, toughness, and determination.

Motivation and self-confidence are connected. When you have more of one, you'll probably have more of the other. You can generally increase your motivation by doing the following:

To examine your motivation level, and learn specific ways to improve your self-motivation, take our quiz How Self-Motivated Are You? For a great general discussion about resiliency and determination, read The Breaking Point by our contributing author Bruna Martinuzzi.

Another area to examine is your locus, or central point, of control. To develop mastery, you must believe that your effort led to your success. As such, you need to believe generally that you’re responsible for your success – not some outside force, like luck or fate. Learn more about your locus of control .

To begin to develop mastery experiences, do the following:

  • Ask for assignments that will be challenging, but that you can succeed in.
  • Assess your skills and abilities. A personal SWOT analysis is a useful tool.
  • Improve your problem solving and decision making skills. This will help create a general feeling of confidence in the choices you make.
  • Commit to personal and professional development to stay current and informed.

Read Building Self-Confidence for more tips on developing a strong belief in yourself.

Observe Others

(Questions 9, 10, 14)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

An interesting part of Bandura's theory is the idea that seeing other people's success improves your belief in yourself. If you view yourself as similar to someone else, and you see his or her accomplishments, you're likely to apply that to yourself, and believe that you can achieve similar success.

The more alike you think you are, the greater the influence. So, if your boss has a similar education and work background, it can improve your confidence. If you see others working hard and succeeding, that can also motivate you and build your confidence.

The opposite may also be true. If you see people make great efforts and not achieve anything, that can hurt your confidence – especially if you think your talents and abilities are similar to theirs.

Try the following tips:

  • Network , and surround yourself with accomplished, successful people.
  • Seek a mentor who has a background similar to yours.
  • Learn from those around you. Note what they do that's successful.
  • Choose to work for companies and industries with growth potential.

Manage Stress

(Questions 3, 8)

Your score is 0 out of 0  

When stress takes over your life, the results can be harmful. Being good at managing stress, however, can be a source of confidence: if you believe you can handle anything you might reasonably face, this can give you energy and a feeling of power. You can build this kind of positive emotion when you learn how to control the sources of stress in your life.

If you let stress control you, chances are you’ll feel very negative. You may interpret the stress as failure, which can lead to more stress and negative thinking.

To be confident, you must be positive. Face stressful situations directly, and learn strategies for managing them.

To manage stress better, try these ideas:

Key Points

Self-efficacy is an important part of self-confidence. The theory of self-efficacy says that high levels of it lead, by way of improved effectiveness, to greater success and personal satisfaction.

Some people seem to be naturally confident, but most of us need to improve our confidence – and we have the power to do so.

Focus on the experiences in your life where you were successful. This can give you the ability to see the positive side of your mistakes and setbacks. Choose to believe in yourself, and surround yourself with other positive and confident people. The more you see the success of others whose skills and abilities are similar to yours, the more likely you are to believe that you can also achieve that success. Combine all of this positive energy with great stress management strategies, and you’ll soon improve your levels of personal confidence.

This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!

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Comments (36)
  • Over a month ago Yolande wrote
    Thanks for sharing this with us SarafPrateek. It sounds as if you fear failure. So you're probably thinking, "What if I fail?" I wonder if you've ever tried to change that to, "What if I succeed?" Shift the focus from negative to positive.
    Come and visit us on the forums and share some more of your thoughts and ideas with us - that's where we all help and learn from one another.
    http://www.mindtools.com/forums/

    Yolandé
    Mind Tools Team
  • Over a month ago SarafPrateek wrote
    My problem is with my self confidence,I really afraid to face any challenge and to face the outcome of any examination. Example -- This days, I am preparing for MBA and i know that i can score quite good in test....
  • Over a month ago Midgie wrote
    Hi Nwadialor and Ivorycalthorpe,
    Thanks for that feedback and hope you enjoy more of our resources related to confidence and much more.

    Midgie
    Mind Tools Team
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