The 4 Stages of Learning Something New

Whether you’re learning a new sport, craft, or skill, you always go through four unique stages of learning.

Stage 1

In the first stage our skill level is very low, but our motivation for learning is often very high. This is when we’re excited, but we’re stupid. We’re eager, but we don’t know what we don’t know.

My son was in this initial stage when he first wanted to learn how to play the violin. He was three years old and I had showed him YouTube videos of children playing the violin. He thought that he could pick up a violin and immediately sound just like all of the kids on the videos that he had seen. He was excited, he didn’t know what he didn’t know.

Stage 2

In the second stage of learning we become aware of the need for knowledge. Our skill level is still very low and this is when our motivation can take a plummet. As we try something new and we actually start to experience doing it—we start doing that new craft, that new hobby, that new activity, that new skill, that new sport, that new career—we find it’s actually a lot harder than we thought it would be.

We get challenged, we get rocked, we get frustrated because our skill isn’t very strong. We aren’t very good at what we’re doing. This can be the stage when people are most likely to give up. It’s when they want throw in the towel because they don’t see themselves getting better. This is when people need reminders that it will get better, but it will take a lot of work.

Stage 3

In the third stage of learning, we are increasing our confidence in our new skill and our motivation also starts to come back. When we’ve been practicing, when we’ve been learning, we become better, we become consciously competent. In this stage we have to be deliberate and aware of what we’re learning and what we know and what we don’t know. We are striving to improve our learning.

Unfortunately, a lot of people get stuck at this third stage of development. This is when people get comfortable and think they’ve reached their potential in learning, thinking I’m pretty good. Even though their confidence is higher as their skill level increases, their motivation can level off because they aren’t challenging themselves as much. This is when people often need to be challenged so that they don’t become complacent, or else they never make it to stage four.

Stage 4

The fourth stage of learning is when we’ve developed mastery of the new skill, craft, hobby, sport, etc. When our confidence is extremely high, our skill level is equally as high and we truly become experts at what we’re doing.

The important thing is that we can’t skip steps, even though all of us want to skip steps, cut corners and shave time off when learning something new. All of us get frustrated with the feeling of ignorance, the feeling of not being good at something right away. We want to fast forward through stages 1 and 2, we could be tempted to get complacent in stage 3, but understanding these stages of learning is a first step to having mastery over them in stage 4.

Are you wanting to learn something new? Not sure where to even start? You need a coach! Learn how you can utilize a coach to help you move through the stages of learning here.

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