October 22, 2021 by Amanda Reill
With all the challenges life throws at us, forward momentum can be difficult to find and even tougher to maintain. We can have a whole list of worthwhile goals, the resources to pursue them, and the desire to attain them. But if we lack motivation, we can sometimes stay stuck on the sidelines, watching the race instead of taking part. One of the biggest obstacles in pursuing our greatest dreams and goals is a What If mindset: What if it doesn’t work out?
Facing the future with a lack of confidence is like standing at the starting line unable to get moving when the starting gun fires. No amount of wishing and dreaming can make your feet move if you’re paralyzed by a fear of failure.
So how can we break through the paralysis and take that first step across the starting line? By utilizing a powerful tool available to everyone: a positive mindset. And when it comes to a more positive outlook, two key players in setting and achieving goals are self-efficacy and optimism.
We all have an Inner Critic that often pops up when we set a goal we’re really excited about. You know the voice; it’s the one that gives you every single reason you can’t accomplish your goals in bold, italics, and underline. But when we face our goals with that negative, self-sabotaging mindset, we can end up complaining about the steps we need to take to get there. All too often, we fail to engage our resources and support systems, or think “what’s the point?” and give up on the difficult stuff before we even start.
Self-efficacy and optimism are two similar aspects of positive psychology. They work hand in hand, and both have their benefits. However, distinguishing between the two can help you pinpoint what is getting in your client’s way so you can make sure to recommend the right tools to address it.
Self-efficacy is a belief in your own abilities. It gets you out of bed to train for the race because you know that if you work hard, you’ll build muscle, and that every time you do something hard, it adds to your repertoire. Each goal is its own reward. Self-efficacy makes you hopeful of a good outcome because you believe in you.
Optimism, on the other hand, is the broader belief that everything is going to turn out okay. When you approach your goals with optimism, you’ll get out of bed to train, and you’ll do what you need to do to get ready for the race. Ultimately, the journey is the adventure. People who face their goals with optimism may struggle to get there, but they keep going because they enjoy the ride and they believe everything will work out in the end.
As a life coach, your clients will come to you on a whole spectrum of motivation. Some are one year away from their literal or metaphorical marathons, debating about whether to even sign up. Some are still standing on the starting-line, while some are halfway down the track and have completely forgotten how they got there. Your job is to come alongside them, help them rediscover that sense of motivation they lost, and rekindle their desire to run the race in front of them.
A client lacking self-efficacy might:
On the other hand, a client lacking optimism could:
The good news is that if your client is coming to you for help, then they already recognize that their mindset needs work. That’s half the battle!
To build self-efficacy in your client, consider the following:
While building self-efficacy has its focus on your client’s perspective of themselves, building optimism has more to do with your client’s perception of the world around them. If your client’s issues stem from low optimism, here are a few suggestions:
We all have to stand on the starting line and go. The alternative is to sit still and do nothing, and that’s not how life works. Motivation is easily thwarted by a lack of confidence in ourselves and in the world around us. It’s easy to fear the unknown future, but when we build a sense of self, and sense of joy in the journey, the path forward feels more transparent. Life coaching is the business of clearing the obstacles to let your clients run the race in front of them without fear or shame. It’s time to start. Ready, set, go!
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