The 4 Stages of Conscious Habit | CircuitComplete

If you’re like most people, you start out new experiences being unconscious that you are unskilled. This is part of a normal 4 stage process everyone must go through in order to not only learn a new skill, but to make it a habit that happens unconsciously.

Stage 1:  At the very beginning as we encounter a situation where we don’t yet have the skills necessary to succeed, we run around bumping into people and facing obstacles around every turn. It’s human nature to look at this and say “It’s because everyone else doesn’t know what they’re doing”.

But here’s the rub – if you find yourself blaming other people over and over again, this is a good indicator that you are unskilled in this area without being conscious of it – or unconsciously unskilled. This is stage 1.


Stage 2: Finally, you have an awakening, and you become conscious that you unskilled in this one particular area – and that is the cause of the continuous problems. You stop blaming it on other people and external factors and realize “Wow, I’m actually just not good at this one little tiny area.” This is where you become consciously unskilled.

This is an ugly, uncomfortable moment at first. It can be a painful realization and sting the ego a bit. However, this is an incredible growth moment where you become empowered to change bad habits holding you back and acquire a valuable new skill.

Many people can be so uncomfortable with this process that they go into denial and return to blaming everyone else. Yet, if you give yourself permission to go through this process, you will be able to continuously become more skilled and valuable than those who stay stuck in Stage 1 – scared, prideful, and stagnant.


Stage 3: Now you start consciously working on a skill. This can be a clunky awkward process. It’s just like learning to ride a bike. You have to make yourself work on it. You have try, fail, get up, and try again. That’s how you learn. In this stage, you’re giving this new skill a lot of time and energy. You’re focusing on it, putting in a lot of effort, and consciously developing this new skill – but you realize you can do it, and that fuels you to keep pushing.


Stage 4: Then you move to the final stage where you become unconsciously skilled. This new skill that you’ve been working on becomes a habit, now taking significantly less time and energy while preventing you from running into the same old problems you faced before.

Again, it’s like riding a bike. It takes a lot of effort to learn in the beginning. There’s a lot of scraped knees and wobbly falls. But because you went through that process, when you jump on a bike now, you don’t even have to think about it – you find your balance and just go.

This is something the human mind does quite naturally. Your brain moves things that require a lot of energy and are repeated regularly into habits. Your brain says “This is clearly something we’re going to do again and again, I need to reduce it to a habit that occurs in the background” – because it takes far less energy for the unconscious mind to fuel action than it does for the conscious mind.


This exercise is known as the “unconscious conscious sandwich”.

Unconsciously unskilled

Conscious of our unskilled

Consciously working on a skill

Unconsciously skilled

What you do is all about your habits. It’s all about being in the place where you don’t have to think about stuff – exercise, weight loss, success in business, etc. These things have to be unconscious. If you’re constantly thinking about them and putting concious effort into them, you’re going to burn out. Building habits one skill at a time and making these new skills part of your subconscious is the key to peak efficiency and success.

As you go about your day today, try to be conscious of any problem patterns that you notice. Ask yourself “Is it possible this problems continue to reoccur because I am not yet skilled in this one specific area?” Make a list of the new skills you want to learn and start to consciously work on them. Once you learn how to make skills needed to achieve your goals a habit, you put yourself on the fast track to incredible success.

Leave a Reply