The Four Stages of Learning a New Skill

The Four Stages of Learning a New Skill

Learning a new skill is investing in your future. As humans, we grow in life only through continuing to learn. Therefore, it is very important to be aware of the stages of learning a new skill so you can recognise and work with them rather than against them in your life.

The first stage is unconscious incompetence. At this stage, you may not realise that there is a reason for learning the new skill. You do not see how learning something new would improve your life. You may be in denial about how useful the skill may be. This can be a very negative stage. By being aware of it, you can take steps to value learning and want to take on the new skill.

The second stage is conscious incompetence. At this stage you recognise that the skill is important to learn, and you want to learn it. As you begin to attempt to integrate knowledge of the skill into your life, you will most likely make a lot of mistakes. Therefore, it is important at this stage not to get discouraged. Keep working on the skill, knowing that making mistakes and the process of trial and error is often how we do our best learning. It is also important to keep up the skills we already have so that confidence in our general abilities does not diminish.

The third stage is conscious competence. You now understand and are able to use the skill in your life, but it does not come easy. The skill is still like a weak muscle that you need to practice using to build up strength. Doing tasks which require this skill will call for increased vigilance and concentration. However, as you continue to spend time practicing the skill, no matter what it may be, both your confidence and proficiency will increase. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

The final stage is unconscious competence. You are now able to use the skill without even thinking about it; it has been integrated into your daily life. It does not require high levels of concentration or effort to use the skill. You have successfully learned the skill and may even be in the position to teach it to others.

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