I work with teens and families all the time on changing habits, making new goals and changing their lives. I often use these stages of self-awareness and understanding to help my clients understand their actions. I thought I should write them out for you to use in your own life.
After reading these stages, I challenge you to think of one area of your life you think you have an ‘incompetence’ or are lacking self-awareness and needs improvement. In this scenario I will use an example
I recently went through with a client about procrastination.
1. Unconscious Incompetence
“I don’t know that I don’t know how to do this.” This is the stage of blissful ignorance and happens before learning and/or self-change starts.
I knew that my client was having trouble getting in assignments on time and saving projects and tasks for the last minute. They refused to see this as a problem and would say things like: “I always get most everything in on-time” “Who cares if it is a few days late anyway?” “My mom just worries too much about it.”
2. Conscious Incompetence
“I know that I don’t know how to do this, yet.” This is the most difficult stage, where self-understanding starts because the person realizes there is a problem or incompetence.
Finally, my client came home and told me that she was embarrassed because she was the only one in her group who did not have her part of the project and when they assigned the next groups, no one wanted to be her partner. She was panicking because she realized she had an issue with assignments and doing her work, but had no idea where to start.
3. Conscious Competence
“I know that I know how to do this.” This is where learning really begins and you find the part of you where this skill comes naturally.
The client and I go over her natural work schedules–optimizing free periods if that is when she works best, avoiding evening studying if that is a trap and figuring out time tables. We start putting it into practice and she realizes that she is not ‘bad’ at time management, she just hadn’t figured out her competence yet.
4. Unconscious Competence
“What, you say I did something well?” The final stage of learning a skill is when it has become a natural part of us; we don’t have to think about it. It becomes second-nature.
The time tables, work habits and study schedule becomes natural and she doesn’t even have to think about avoiding traps or setting special reminders because setting reminders becomes just a part of her homework process.
I challenge you to look at some skills you want to start to tackle. Perhaps you already are at stage 2 and know you have a problem, but do not know how to help yourself. Go ask someone, ask a friend, get a mentor or do some journaling.