The Role of Self-Efficacy in Goal Setting

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Self-efficacy refers to strong belief in an individual in regard to his/her innate capacity which enables them to execute behaviors that are vital in the achievement of their goals. Self-efficacy consists of an individual’s attitudes, abilities, and cognitive power and resources. The anticipations of self-efficacy ascertain whether an individual will produce a coping behavior and for what duration will the effort be sustained in the face of an obstacle.  Individuals with extraordinary self-efficacy will maintain sufficient effort which leads to success; whereas individuals with low self-efficacy will cease effort and eventually fail. Self-efficacy moreover, contemplates to the confidence in the potential to regulate one's motivation, behavior, and social environment. There exist four cognitive processes that are dependent on one other and which are required in the achievement of goals. These cognitive processes are self-evaluation, self-observation, self-reaction, and self-efficacy.  Self-efficacy being one of these cognitive processes, it is, therefore, a vital tool in the setting of goals and in their achievement. As such this paper will analyze the niche that self-efficacy occupies as well as the impact of self-efficacy in goal setting.



Resilience is the ability to recover instantly and readily from adversity that is bouncing back from negative circumstances. Resilience is brought about having a positive attitude towards a particular goal, optimism which reduces the impact of stress on the mind and body when one is facing an obstacle, the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback as well as having high emotional intelligence and having the potential to manage emotions effectively. Resilience is usually a characteristic of people with high levels of self-efficacy. These individuals with high efficacy levels are able to access resources from their minds, they are able to rectify whenever they are wrong. Resilient individuals are energetic, able to change their ways of doing things and thus are able to move towards achieving their goals. Moreover, resilience gives people the strength to tackle their problems and overcome adversity. Individuals with low self-efficacy can be guided to development of resilience by:

Being put in a position to mastering their experiences that is what happened in the past that a task that they achieved which increases the belief that an individual can perform in that particular activity and conquer in future.

Social modeling refers to individuals identifying successful people who are like them to be their role models. This helps build confidence and shows them that they can achieve as well. Individuals with high levels of self-efficacy have role models and thus they are likely to succeed. However, for persons with little intensities of self-efficacy, and the reverse is true.

Social persuasion where other people in the same environment mentor others into achieving by encouraging motivating and showing confidence to them that they can achieve and thus they end up being successful. However, people may demotivate others and thus they may end up failing. Hence, the environment in which an individual may be in greatly determines their fate.

Psychological responses: How an individual psychologically determines how they handle a situation when one is happy and not stressed they are likely to succeed whereas when one is stressed, sad and nervous they are more likely to fail. When one is not exhausted they have reduced anxiety, they have increased hope and optimism and they are at a zest to move towards their goals.

Persons who have low self-efficacy levels lack resilience and in failure circumstances as they are overwhelmed and thus use unhealthy coping mechanisms. Thus when one is setting goals they should observe that the individuals that are to enhance their achievement are resilient and if there are cases of individuals with reduced resilience they should be guided by the mechanisms provided above (Frederickson, 2004).


Persistence refers to the ability to persevere despite the fatigue and frustrations in the face of an obstacle. The belief that one can achieve their ever coveted goals when one is in the position of almost giving up. Persons with high self-efficacy levels are persistent and the latter is not.  They usually increase the time that they spend in looking for a way to ensure their goals are achieved as well as increase the energy towards their work. Moreover, individuals with high levels of self-efficacy will work hard, are ambitious, are always eager to succeed and will, therefore, ensure that the goal is achieved despite the challenges. Individuals with low levels of self-efficacy usually give up early and the result is undesirable (Bong, 2004).

 In addition, persons with low self-efficacy levels place themselves in a situation referred to as self-handicapping. Self-handicapping is the situation in which an individual occasionally fails to persist and they give in more rampantly even before looking for another alternative. This results in a failure in most cases. Individuals with high levels of self-efficacy have high self-esteem which increases their confidence and they can easily achieve their goals despite the challenges that they are faced with while those with low levels of self-efficacy have reduced self-esteem and therefore they handle the challenges poorly with negative attitudes and they end up failing. Persistence is also connected to confidence since the higher the confidence the higher the perseverance and vice versa. When faced by problematic circumstances persons with low levels of self-efficacy are more probable to fail as they minimize their efforts or give up completely. Those with higher levels of self-efficacy increase their efforts and dominate the challenge (Stephen P Robbins, 2016). However, when these individuals are guided constant failure may provide a useful inducement for them to improve and move towards their goals. This enables them to recover their motivation. Perseverance is, therefore, an important tool in the achievement of the goals that are set to be achieved in phases since if ceasing happens in one of the phases the greater goal won’t be achieved. Consequently, when one is setting goals they must bear in mind that those people involved in their achievement must be persistent and if they tend to be lax they should be encouraged to ensure the tenacity improves.


It is the set of processes that are required to bring about arousal, direct in and the maintenance of human conduct toward the achievement of a particular goal (Baron, 2008). Maslow 1954 suggests that when one has deep compassion for a particular need in this case the need is the goal, there occurs a progression of motivational strains focused to the accomplishment of that objective. Individuals that have high levels of self-efficacy are motivated towards working hard so as they can achieve their goals whereas if they have low levels self-efficacy the levels of motivation in them are usually low and thus at the face of an obstacle they end up giving up and they therefore fail.

 Achievement motivation is grounded in achieving each and every goal that an individual has set in his/her life and in the accomplishment of success. Motivation greatly influences the way one performs a task, it represents the desire that shows competence which is required for one to achieve their goals. Moreover, motivation exerts pressure on an individual so as they can a strong desire to achieve as well as fear failure. When an individual has high levels of self-efficacy they are motivated and determined to achieve their goals, they direct behavior towards the achievement of their goals, they have enhanced cognitive processing, possess good decision-making skills and they exercise a high degree of control of the direction they take.   Motivation can be conducted in a number of ways such as those individuals who have had outstanding performance towards the achievement of the goal must be recognized and appreciated as this encourages them, improves their self-esteem, confidence and it sustains their efforts towards the achievement of that particular goal.

Performance appraisal is thus important to the individuals with both high and low levels of self-efficacy to make the individuals more aggressive when faced by disappointing situations. Motivation can also be conducted by giving the individual’s time to rest as this enables them to rejuvenate their energy, may enable them to come up with new ideas on the achievement of the goal and improves their production in the cases of firms. It is therefore required that all the persons that are going to be involved in the achievement of a particular goal be motivated.

Psychological well-being of an individual

Psychological well-being of an individual refers to the subjective feelings of happiness that are the high positive feelings and the low negative feelings of an individual. The psychological well-being of an individual, in this case, is the hedonic well-being which is the positive emotional feeling which affects the happiness of an individual. Self-efficacy affects the happiness and cognitive behavior of an individual (Bandura, 2012). Individuals with high self-efficacy their psychological well-being is fit as they; try harder even when faced with challenges, show extrinsic motivation and are less likely to feel dissatisfied when they fail for the first time whereas those individuals with low levels self-efficacy give in when faced with challenges and they finally fail. Individual thoughts and emotions are also inclined by self-efficacy views as for when dealing with problematic tasks individuals with extraordinary levels of self-efficacy create tranquility moods. People with low levels of self-efficacy believe things are tougher than they actually are. Moreover, self-efficacy affects individuals cognitively in the effort one may apply, the duration of persistence. Persons with high self-efficacy levels tend to have strong self-capability to handle difficult tasks, have great intrinsic interests, sustain their efforts and recover quickly after experiencing setbacks (Pajares, 2009). People with equivalence in skill may perform a task differently simply because of their belief in their own ability (Prat-sala, 2009). Guidance and counseling are therefore vital in the maintenance of stability in the individuals who are involved in the attainment of the set goals.


Bandura, A. (2012). Self-efficacy the exercise of control. New York: NY Freeman.

Baron, J. G. (2008). Behavior in organizations. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall.

Bong, M. &. (2004). Academic self-concept and self-efficacy: How different are they really? Educational psychology review,15(1), 1-40.

Frederickson, T. M. (2004). Resilient individuals use positive emotions to bounce back from negative emotional experiences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 86, 320-333.

Pajares, F. (2009). Self-efficacy theory. Retrieved from Self-efficacy theory:

Prat-sala, M. &. (2009). The interplay between motivation, self-efficacy, and approaches to studying. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 283-305.

Stephen P Robbins, T. J. (2016). Organizational behavior: global and Southern African perspectives.

Cape Town: Pearson Holdings Southern Africa.

January 19, 2024



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