It is sad when someone wants to do better but are going about it all wrong. How do I know? Well, I tried for years to find financial independence, improved relationships, and success in all areas of my life, but was going about it all wrong. I am much happier now. Not that everything is perfect in my life, but because I am more competent now and have a plan for success in all areas of my life. One of the key things I learned was that you have to know where you are in order to end up where you want to be. Once you know from where you are starting, and where you want to be, you can put together a plan to get there. One great way to do this is to look at the Four Levels of Competence.
The Four Levels of Competence is a psychological learning model that helps you progress from being incompetent at something to being competent at something. If you can understand these four levels, you can identify which level you are in (regarding a specific area of your life), and then identify ways to progress to a higher level. This can be applied to your career, finances, relationships, health, etc…. This can be applied to anything. Just pick something you want to be successful with, and see where you are from a competence perspective. Read over the following levels (listed lowest to highest) and see where you are and where you need to improve…
This is where you suck at something and don’t even realize you suck at it. Yeah, “suck” may be a strong word, but it applies here. This is where you are bad at something and don’t even realize it. For example, do you suck at finances? You may think you don’t, but if you have no money saved, live paycheck to paycheck, and are hoping that something great happens for you to get rich, then my friend, you are unconsciously incompetent, and your first step is to admit it. Most people in the population fall into this level with many things in their life. It is not until they take a deep look that they figure it out. Once they figure it out, they can move to the next level.
Sort of like the first step in a 12 step program. If you suck at something, the first step is to admit it out loud, “I suck at…”. Once you admit this, you can start to work on the problem at, which point you become consciously incompetent. You know you are being incompetent and need to do something about it. It’s funny…in the Unconscious Incompetence phase, you are considered ignorant if you are not doing anything to solve the problem. In the Conscious Incompetence phase, you now know you are incompetent, so if you do nothing, you are not ignorant. You are just being negligent. But now that you are aware of the problem you can make a change and move to the next level. You can say, “I am broke and I am gonna fix it.”
This is where you are aware of your current skill and competence and can identify ways on improving. You are now taking action to become better at what you use to be bad doing. For finances, you could start to research budgeting techniques, start saving money, and even find more ways of making more money. You begin to make the appropriate changes to improve your situation. Day by day you become more competent and you are aware of it, actively working on improvement. Before you know it, you reach the last level…
This is the Holy Grail of where you want to be. This is where you are so good at something that you don’t even have to think about it anymore. You are just great at something without having to think or even try. For our finances example, you now have a plan in place, you are making money, saving money, and becoming financially independent. And you don’t even have to try any more. It is just unconsciously happening. This is awesome and should be your goal for all areas of your life.
I have said it before and I will say it again, “You have to know where you are and where you want to go, if you want to identify the steps to get there.” You have to have an end in mind and be aware of where you currently are if you want to figure out how to get there. If I asked directions to your house, your first question for me would be, “Where are you coming from?” You can identify where you are coming from using the Four Levels of Competence. Pick an area of your life where you want to improve, get out a piece of paper, and begin writing down where you are and at what level you currently sit. From there, you can come up with a plan to progress. Thinking on paper is great and can help you reach your end game much faster.
I challenge you to pick one area of your life like career, finances, relationships, or health and apply these levels to where you are. Then come up with a plan on improvement. Before you know it, a light bulb will come on and you may find you are unconsciously incompetent and didn’t even know it. You are letting things in this area of your life just happen, rather than making things happen. It’s time to turn that around. Good luck!!!