Apr 162013


Failure will never overtake me if my desire to succeed is strong enough.

Og Mandino

When I have conversations with people about something they would love to do but haven’t started yet there is often an underlying theme. Whilst outwardly people will say ‘I don’t have the time’ or ‘I don’t have the money’, inwardly they’re thinking ‘I could never succeed’.

Psychologists use the word ‘self-efficacy’ to describe our belief in our ability to achieve the goals we set ourselves. Research shows that when people have a high level of self-efficacy they are more likely to succeed in achieving these goals.

No surprise there. The self-fulfilling prophecy comes into full affect. You want to start an online business but you don’t quite believe you can succeed, that is to say – your self-efficacy is low. You put up your site and get little traffic. You immediately take this as a sign. ‘I knew I’d be no good at this’, or ‘I knew this wouldn’t work’. Chances are, those thoughts will make you feel quite helpless, like you have no control over the situation. As a result you are less motivated to try other things to attract customers to your site and so you enter this downward spiral that will take you further and further away from the success you desire.

The good news is that we can spin this on its head. If we look at what creates a sense of self-efficacy within us we can carefully apply these to any project we undertake. Read on to find out how to triple your chances of success.

There are 4 key things that can increase our self-efficacy. Let’s look at each one in turn and see how we can use it to our advantage.


1. Experiencing a sense of mastery

We feel this when we overcome a challenge successfully. This sense of mastery gives us the confidence and encouragement we need to keep striving.

Apply it by:

Break down your project into smaller manageable challenges. If you set yourself challenges that can be accomplished in an hour, a day, or a week you will get frequent bursts of positive reinforcement that will keep you going


2. Seeing others succeed

When we see others succeeding it increases our own self-efficacy as it gives us the message that ‘this can be done’. This is especially effective when we see ourselves as similar to the person who has succeeded.

Apply it by:

Spend time with people who are following a similar project. Find people who are a few steps ahead of you. Talk to them about their experiences. Consider starting a mastermind group. (A word of caution: Watch out for comparing yourself to people who are years ahead of you in their project as this could end up discouraging you. Remember to avoid comparing the seed of your idea to the fully grown plant that has had years to develop in someone else’s hands).


3. Surround yourself with supporters

Once again this has to do with the people you surround yourself with. When people encourage us and believe in our ideas we feel a lot more confident, capable and motivated to succeed.

Apply this by:

Avoid the ‘nay’ sayers. Be protective of your dreams and ideas. Only share them with people who will support them. If a partner or a loved one is not being supportive make a request. Tell them that what you need now above all else is their support, not their advice.

When someone puts down your dreams and ideas there could be a million reasons behind it. It is often about their own fears, pre-conceptions, assumptions, bitterness, lack of knowledge, world view, BUT RARELY about your idea. Please remember this.


4. Interpretations of your physiology

When you’re doing something challenging you are likely to experience ‘butterflies in the stomach’. How you interpret these will have an effect on your levels of self-efficacy.

 Apply this by:

Instead of interpreting butterflies as fear, impending doom, and a sign that you can’t succeed, look at them as excitement, a normal reaction to leaving the comfort zone and a sign that you are stretching yourself and moving forward. Physiologically there is no difference between fear and excitement, your interpretation is what creates it.


I hope you find these tips useful in helping you believe in your ability to succeed. Now that you how to increase your self-efficacy what BIG thing will you start?


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  3 Responses to “4 tips that will triple your chances of success”

  1. Thanks Karen! I certainly struggle with self-belief and tend to think I’ll probably fail rather than succeed, particularly when trying something for the first time. It was like that with my blog, now my book… The thing is I’m aware of it and try to forge on despite the negative self-talk; I’m trying to get enjoyment out of the process and let go of outcomes a little. Great tips, thank you.

    • Hi Sarah.

      It’s amazing what havoc that little voice in our head can cause when we’re putting ourselves out there.
      What a great strategy – focusing on the process and not the outcome. LOVE that!

      Good luck with your book – can’t wait to read it! :)

  2. Another great article. I will be using these tips!

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