Seven Keys to Developing Self-Efficacy and Feeling Competent

Self-efficacy refers to the confidence you have in your abilities to achieve your own goals. It's a basic dimension that conditions a good part of the future of plans that you draw up or projects that you undertake.
Seven Keys to Developing Self-Efficacy and Feeling Competent
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

When Albert Bandura (1925-2021) died, we lost one of the most important social psychologists in history. It was through his ideas that we learned how to develop self-efficacy. In fact, he taught us that, in an ever-changing world, believing in ourselves and our ability to achieve our goals is the only way to achieve stability. Nevertheless, this is no easy task.

Self-efficacy is one of the pillars that build the human personality. It gives you the opportunity to be who you really want to be. It was Bandura that first defined this capacity. In fact, he claimed that everything, from your learning to your beliefs, that you can reinforce at any given time, all mediate your well-being.

Trusting yourself, knowing that you’re capable of achieving certain things, and working in tune with your desires, values, and abilities are what allow you to go far in life. In this article, you can discover a series of simple strategies to do this.

“People’s beliefs about their abilities have a profound effect on those abilities.”

-Albert Bandura-

man with glasses thinking about how to develop self-efficacy

How to develop self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is defined as the confidence you have in your ability to implement certain actions and thus achieve a goal (Bandura, 1977, 1986, 1997). Importantly, it’s not just about “believing that you can.” It’s not  simple “self-confidence.”

In fact, self-efficacy is based on the assimilation and application of a series of competencies. It’s an awareness of success via a process that supports your hope of being effective. As you can imagine, it’s particularly decisive in childhood and adolescence. In this regard, the Jaume 1 University in Castellon (Spain) conducted a study concerning the link between self-efficacy and academic achievement.

We know that when students have confidence in their skills and believe that they’ll achieve good results, they’re more likely to obtain them. Furthermore, Bandura himself indicated that it’s a priority to develop self-efficacy during childhood. In fact, your ability to achieve it in adulthood tends to be reduced, However, it’s never too late to make some changes.

Here are seven tips for putting self-efficacy into practice.

1. If you want to be competent in an area, learn and work in it

No one can be effective as a doctor if they haven’t studied medicine. That much is obvious. Therefore, if you want to feel truly competent in any discipline, however insignificant, you must practice and learn. Firstly, this means that you must recognize what you don’t know and be open to change, in order to establish new perspectives and domains.

2. Developing self-efficacy is a constantly evolving process within you

Bandura said that every puzzle is completed piece by piece and in a thoughtful way. The same thing happens with self-efficacy. It’s a process of evolution that involves small advances and daily victories. Of course, there’ll be setbacks. However, that’s what learning is. In fact, you integrate errors in order to solve them. In this way, you’re able to improve your feelings of competence.

3. Remember the experiences of mastery and achievement

A key to developing self-efficacy is to remember all those times when you were successful when you took certain actions. It means relaxing in the knowledge that you were successful then and can be again. We see this phenomenon a great deal in children.

Indeed, sometimes, children doubt themselves when performing certain tasks. However, as they manage to master tasks and achieve success, they trust themselves much more until they eventually become fully autonomous.

4. Regulate your emotions and control your thoughts

If you want to fully and effectively develop self-efficacy, you must manage your emotions. That’s because dimensions like fear or insecurity dash your hopes. In fact, if you fear failure and obsess over mistakes, chances are you’ll fail. Also, if your mind isn’t on your side and you’re experiencing only negative thoughts, your competence will completely fail you.

Therefore, it’s essential that you learn to regulate everything that happens in your mind. Being self-effective means aligning your skills with adequate emotional harmony.

5. Social modeling: look at those who are successful

What do successful people in your industry do? If you dream of mastering a particular discipline, it’s always a good idea to look at those who’ve achieved excellence. Social modeling, the process of learning by observing and imitating experts, is a suitable form of action here.

6. Accept challenges

People who manage to develop self-efficacy and who’ve reached the highest levels in their field will have taken on great challenges. As a matter of fact, intentionally and courageously tackling difficult tasks is a way of challenging yourself. Above all, you show yourself that you can achieve more than you think.

Exhausted woman after running thinking about developing self-efficacy

7. Accept feedback: both positive and negative

Nobody gets very far if they can’t accept advice, or don’t leave room for any external feedback. Nobody is born an expert. In fact, experts are born with the humility of knowing that they don’t know everything. For this reason, you should accept your mistakes and let yourself be guided by someone who knows more than you do.

In addition, it’s also important to accept positive reinforcement. Indeed, a compliment acts as a boost to strengthen your self-efficacy and it lets you know that you’re on the right track. No more no less. As a matter of fact, you should work every day on the dimension of self-efficacy. It’ll improve your life and you’ll be able to go far. In fact, to wherever your expectations (and skills) take you.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Doménech-Betoret, F., Abellán-Roselló, L., & Gómez-Artiga, A. (2017). Self-Efficacy, Satisfaction, and Academic Achievement: The Mediator Role of Students’ Expectancy-Value Beliefs. Frontiers in psychology8, 1193.
  • Yusuf, Muhammed. (2011). The impact of self-efficacy, achievement motivation, and self-regulated learning strategies on students’ academic achievement. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 15. 2623-2626. 10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.04.158.
  • Wilde, N., Hsu, A. The influence of general self-efficacy on the interpretation of vicarious experience information within online learning. Int J Educ Technol High Educ 16, 26 (2019).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.