Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Little Engine That Could?

by Carmin Iadonisi, N.D, E.P.
                                                   Adjunct Professor, School of Health Sciences

Remember the old story about the "The Little Engine That Could"? His mantra was, "I think I can.", "I think I can."  This story reminded me of a conversation I recently had.   I was talking to one of my students and he told me about how he was able to lose almost 100 pounds by himself in high school.   This was an impressive feat for anyone let alone a high school student.  That was a few years ago and now the student is again overweight.  We talked about losing weight and he looked at me and said, "I know I can lose the weight, because I have done it before."  Although he had gained most of the weight back, I knew he could again lose weight because he had strong "Self-efficacy" in regards to losing weight.

What is self-efficacy?  Besides being one of my favorite concepts to teach in Health and Wellness, it is the belief in oneself that you can accomplish a specific goal or achieve a certain outcome. Despite all the media coverage about the challenges of weight loss and the statistics that say that over 66% of the country is overweight or obese, my student has a belief and confidence in himself that will help him to succeed in his weight loss goals.   Why do I know he has a great chance of being successful? His past mastery of his experience has given him a confidence that will greatly increase his chances of  success.  In a nutshell, he has done it before and he will do it again. But don't take it from just me, research confirms that those individuals with the highest self-efficacy are normally the most successful in achieving their goals.

So how do you gain self-efficacy in something you have never had success in? What if you have never been able to lose weight? You can still gain self-efficacy if you can think of any other change in your life  you have been successful accomplishing. Maybe you have never lost weight, but you have been able reorganize your life. You can use the same steps you used to change that aspect of your life and apply it towards your new goals. The point is success builds success. If that does not help, then modeling people with similar situations who have accomplished the goals you want is another way to build self-efficacy.  Pick someone you relate to and follow the steps they took to help you reach your goals.  My take home message is that everyone has the ability to increase their self-efficacy, so either look to your past or find someone to inspire you - just do something and you could start seeing positive changes now. 


Behty said...

This is great, self-efficacy... I like the idea of reaching back to something we've accomplished and using that success to accomplish current and future goals. I am putting that into practice today.

Thanks Carmin.

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