As the new year rings in, it is time to remind ourselves of all the goals we want to pursue, things we would like to change, and milestones we would like to reach. However, to put these plans into actions is not quite as simple as just wishing. How successful we get in pursuing them a lot depends on our psychological resources. Our positive psychological capital or PsyCap determines how confident we are in approaching all of these in general.
In past two years, staying safe became a constant effort, and this in a way also negatively impacted our psychological and emotional well-being. Rising above risks, constant uncertainties, and challenges required a stronger resolve and more hope at a personal level. Acting out of external pressures, or stress always lowers one’s self-esteem and self-belief. When you lack positive psychological resources, you cannot make things happen or turn your goals into a reality.
Paradoxically, building on your positive psychological capital or PsyCap, you can do just that irrespective of your external stresses. Our confidence will fluctuate when we haven’t yet learned to self regulate and manage and govern ourselves. People who don’t feel secure and strong within themselves tend to have low PsyCap. They have a negative view of themselves and so is their belief in their ability to complete a task or achieve a goal. Perhaps one way to feel more in control this year is to choose to enhance your PsyCap.
What is PsyCap?
Your PsyCap is your overall resourceful state with all your potentially meaningful things clarified, organised and reflected upon. It includes four psychological resource capacities—hope, (self)-efficacy, resilience and optimism( The HERO within). This framework is developed by Fred Luthans for the purpose of managing human behaviour in organisations. It is mainly attributed to work-related attitudes, behaviours and performance.
However, this also can be applied to various dimensions of individual productivity and well-being. People with high PsyCap, put more effort into a task, are tenacious, have realistic expectations of future success and respond positively to setbacks or difficulties. It is a common resource connected to many positive outcomes such as job performance, psychological well-being and boosting your self-esteem. Here are its core components in detail.
Hope. (The will and the way)
Hope in general means to look forward with expectation, or to feel that something desired may happen. We often confuse hope for wishful thinking. However, in terms of positive PsyCap, hope is considered as something very different than just mere wishing for the best.
It is more about the choices you make today for your future success. And is made up of two aspects—agency and pathways. Agency is the willpower and motivation to succeed in a specific task or a goal. This provides a reasonable confidence to persevere in order to succeed.
Pathways is the way in which a particular task can be accomplished. Identifying your valuable goals and generating multiple pathways helps you to consider required resources to pursue them. Hope is thus combination of strong will power with openness to different pathways to get the results needed. For instance, people with high hope put more effort towards their goals than those with less hope. They come up with alternative realistic pathways while discarding unrealistic pathways that no longer work. Hope makes you flexible to come up with multiple solutions to a problem.
Self-efficacy (Belief in self)
Self efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation. It includes having confidence to control their behaviour, exert an influence over their work environment, and stay motivated in the pursuit of their goals. Our beliefs significantly influence how we feel, think, and motivate ourselves.
If you are someone who has belief in self, and have positive expectations for the future success, you probably have a high degree of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy paired with Will component of hope, enables you to perceive and respond to difficult situations more constructively. You challenge yourself to keep on going even in the face of obstacles.
This even impacts everything from what goals you pursue, how, and what you accomplish. For instance, having strong sense of self-efficacy helps you to stick to your health goals, like giving up on unhealthy habits, sticking to an exercise schedule, discarding regimes and diet that no longer serves you, eating healthy and manage your stress. It thus has o positive impact on your outcomes, commitment, well-being, and motivation.
Resilience ( Bouncing back)
It is the ability to sustain difficult situations and bounce back from problems to even better state of being. People who are more resilient accomplish their goals inspite of difficulties, uncertainty, risk or failure. They have ability to adapt themselves to unexpected changes coming their way and handle stress effectively. Rather than avoiding or dodging responsibility, they ensure ownership of their goals.
The truth is that there will be obstacles to virtually any goal you want to pursue. But being resilient allows you to retain strength instead of making excuses to avoid challenges, risks and failures. As a result, you make an effort to improve your situation by overcoming them. Resilient people come out stronger as they work through challenging situations and are better learners from their experiences.
Related: How mentally tough are you?
Optimism (Realistic and flexible)
Optimism is to have positive expectations for future success. It is characterised by confidence and belief in a possible future outcome. People who are high in optimism believe things are going work well in the end. They are motivated to work towards things that are within their control and accept those things that are not. Optimists attribute success to their strengths, and consider failures or challenges as something temporary.
Greater optimism enables you to draw connection between the successful completion, and your goal-directed efforts. This creates constructive thinking patterns of believing that there will always be opportunities to make things better tomorrow. When you are high in optimism, you are less stressed, cope better, and persevere through unfavourable situations. You are always looking for ways to improve and see challenges as opportunities to learn.
Why improve yours?
High PsyCap is attributed to better employee performance, job satisfaction and to positive organisational behaviour. It helps in building essential personal psychological resources such as self-esteem, being in control and emotional stability. People with high PsyCap,
- View challenges or problems as something to overcome or as tasks to be mastered.
- Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments.
- Show a strong sense of commitment towards their goals.
- Focus on their strengths over their weaknesses.
- Positively influence to improve overall effectiveness of a workplace.
How to enhance yours?
If something is presented as an accepted truth, alternative ways of thinking do not even come up for consideration.Ellen J. Langer
Here are some ways to overcome inadequacy attitudes and learning to practice hope and optimism.
Raise your individual self-awareness.
Self-awareness and understanding your needs is an important key to unlocking more pathways that move you closer to achieving your goals. Accept your strengths and weaknesses. This lets you express yourself clearly and helps in asserting your needs with others effectively.
Avoid generic positive affirmations.
You can tell yourself you’re great, but if you don’t really believe it, your mind will reject such affirmations. Just telling yourself ‘you can do it’ isn’t enough. Your affirmations should be based on your true strengths. Use constructive and positive statements to avoid negative self talk and to control your inner dialogue. List out your valuable goals and devise realistic pathways based on your true strengths.
Open yourself to feedback.
Self esteem is not fuelled by —‘I’ll be successful any day now’ — or by false beliefs — ‘I am the greatest.’ It is fuelled by authentic experiences of demonstrating ability, competence, and learning from mistakes. True estimate of your ability helps you to make necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks. You can attempt to make yourself better by being open to feedback.
Avoid self-deprecatory thoughts grow into mental monsters. Do not build up obstacles in your imagination. Difficulties must be efficiently dealt with to be eliminated, but they must be seen for only what they are. They must not be inflated by your fear thoughts. Always remind yourself that, the worst-case scenarios you imagine aren’t true. Have positive expectations about future.
Practice cognitive reframing.
Sometimes, it’s easy to get into the mindset that your outlook is the only way to look at a problem. By using cognitive restructuring, you can shift your mindset so you are able to look at a situation from a different perspective. It can change the way you think, feel and respond. Ask yourself, Is there another way to look at this situation? Or What are some other possible ways to deal with it? Reframing points you to evaluate the evidence that supports or disputes your anticipation of negative outcomes.
Remain flexible in the face of obstacles.
Never be too stubborn to change. Seeking out unconventional solutions to problems and keeping an open mind helps you in making your own decisions in the face of problems. Think outside the box to develop tolerance for ambiguity and maintain an openness to change.
How do you perceive your HERO within?
What has been your biggest challenge so far while managing unexpected changes?
Did you ever let go of working on a project because of not willing to risk it?
Do you view challenging tasks as part of your learning process or as roadblocks?
Are you flexible enough to consider alternate perspectives to help overcome a problem?
What role do you play in increasing others’ PsyCap in your workplace?
One way to realise your goals this year is to choose to strengthen your HERO within. The aim of developing positive psychological state is to build best qualities, to get things going of your own accord, before you are forced to by external pressure and internal stress. This builds a firm foundation for good self-worth and self-esteem that in turn spreads to every aspect of your life. You are the captain of your own ship; the more you act from this perspective, the better things will go for you. This increases your ability to stay committed and do things that actually make you feel accomplished, and empowered.