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by Donna Bennett
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June 2009 Archives

Self-Efficacy and Change

Self-efficacy, the perception that one can achieve a goal, is at the core of choosing a new path or beginning anything that is unknown.

You may have a dream or want to pursue a passion that will give you purpose and meaning. While dreams and passion are terrific, and finding purpose and meaning are noble and necessary, there is also yourself to consider. If you fail in your heart and soul to believe that you can make something happen, you may find yourself running headlong into a wall of self-made barriers.

You may not recognize the wall since self-made barriers are easy to miss. They often sound like this: "I don't have the time; "I don't have the money"; "My partner (or boss, friends, parents, etc.) will never support me!"; "Not now, but maybe when...."; "What! In this economy?!?" These are all reasons that, in our minds, are easy to justify. Our minds can be the great gatekeepers that hold our tender hearts and souls from realizing fulfillment.

A cycle of dreams battling barriers often begins when our guard is down - when we are vulnerable and stressed and yearning for something new. We may take a few steps in a new direction - such as signing up for a class or workshop, searching the Net for ideas, or perhaps talking to a friend or counselor for encouragement. Then things snap back to normal, and "heart and soul" take a back seat to "mind." The old barriers move back to the surface and reason wins over dreams. Yet feelings of vulnerability always return, and the cycle begins again.

What does it take to believe - really believe - that you can do what you dream of doing?

Some take a reactive approach. They reach a point where they cry out, "Enough!" and jump in head-first. Others move only when a catalyst gives them permission to move. And still others take the procrastination approach, waiting and waiting for the "sure thing."

Belief in yourself may mean taking time to go deep inside to see what beliefs need to be changed, mourned, and released to make room for the new. Beliefs that no longer work can be changed. Look for ways that work best for you, and proceed slowly. New beliefs are likely to take hold when you are deliberate and intentional. Some things to consider include relying on positive personal history and experience, reality testing, working with a counselor, or the support of friends who are nonjudgmental, who will keep you accountable, and cheer you on.

When all is congruent - when mind, heart, and soul are working together, there is a greater chance for self-efficacy to work in your favor. Your ideas, passions, and dreams will have a chance to go past the inevitable barriers and win the battle of change.