Now that you’re starting over and getting a second chance to live your best life, you probably wonder if you can do it. Well, the short answer is “of course you can!” But there is more…
In order to live well and be successful in your life, you must be competent. Competence means possessing these three traits: skill, experience and confidence. So naturally, when you are first starting over, you don’t have all three. But if you understand The Competence Model you will have a better understanding of what you need and when – and you can give yourself both a break for not knowing everything and a pat on the back as you progress.
Here are the four stages of The Competence Model:
Stage 1: Unconscious Incompetence
Unconscious Incompetence means you don’t understand or know how to do something and you don’t necessarily recognize the deficit. In other words, you don’t even know what you don’t know.
This is like your first day on a new job, your first sexual experience, when you become a mother for the first time or the first time you are living on your own. Remember when you were a kid and were learning how to drive? You didn’t know the first thing about what to do behind the wheel of a car. But you really wanted wheels, so you were motivated to learn.
Some people can stay at the unconscious incompetence stage for a long, long time.
In order to move to the next stage, you have to recognize that there is something that (1) you “don’t get” about your current situation and (2) you have to learn. How long you stay at the unconscious incompetent stage usually depends on how motivated you are to be competent in your situation and/or how fast you get frustrated.
The best way to move out of this stage is to decide on a goal or set a milestone in your life. And, if there is someone you trust, ask them if they notice something that might be one of your blind spots – you know, something that you can’t see but others do. When you do, you automatically shift into the next stage….
Stage 2: Conscious Incompetence
Here you know something’s missing. You might not know what or you don’t know what to do to fill in the gap – but you know it’s something. You are consciously aware that you are incompetent in a situation. Remember how it was after you had your first driving lesson? Weren’t you suddenly aware of how much you didn’t know about driving? Who knew you had to think about all those things?
When it comes to their future well-being and success, some women choose to stay at the conscious incompetence stage. They know, for example, that they can’t handle their finances but decide that it’s too much time, trouble, or energy to learn. Or they know they’re not in charge of their life but would rather follow someone else – maybe because less scary to let someone else do it or maybe being a victim is just easier.
This is where you have a great opportunity for a victory stretch. A victory stretch happens when a woman chooses to love out of the comfort zone of this stage and onto the next stage - even when it’s challenging. The victory stretch is what makes the difference between a victim or surviving woman and one who is savvy and victorious.
Stage 3: Conscious Competence
This happens when you know you know – the skill or behavior – and you can do it, but it takes a lot of concentration. Remember when you took your driving test? You had to concentrate on every little thing – getting into gear, getting used to how much pressure to put on the gas or brake, how and when to use the turning signal. You can do it but it takes your full concentration.
When you’re starting over, conscious competence could mean getting a new checking account and balancing your checkbook every month, or creating a budget and sticking to it. On a new job, conscious competence could be as simple as getting a new phone system and having to look at the printed instructions every time you want to get into your voicemail. Conscious competence takes thought at every stage. But in time you
Stage 4: Unconscious Competence
Finally – you’ve had so much practice with a skill that it’s “second nature” and can be performed easily. Remember the days when you were just a “conscious competent” driver? Back then you probably couldn’t imagine that you could drive and do other things . . .eat, talk, yell at kids, etc. Now driving is like walking. . . you are competent without even thinking about what you are doing. As a result of unconscious competence, you can teach you daughter to drive or, at work, you might be the person chosen to mentor the new manager or teach a professional development class.
Throughout our lives we are always in one stage or another. Recognizing your level of competence when you are starting over can be a huge help in moving from lost and scared to confident and successful. Like anything, once you can name what’s missing and claim it, you can change it.
What is the Victorious Woman Project?
Founded by Annmarie Kelly, the Victorious Woman Project is a female empowerment resource containing articles, classes, books, podcasts and other tools for women over 40.