On this rung of the learning ladder, the individual doesn’t realise they have a negative habit. This could be a gym goer who always does lat pull downs behind the neck without realising the dangers to his or her shoulders or a dieter who skips meals to help them lose weight, not knowing that this behaviour could disrupt their metabolism and stall their fat loss. People who are Unconscious Incompetents would benefit from education and explanations to teach them why their behaviours are not the best way forward in achieving their goals.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try try and try again!” goes the old saying. This sums up the Conscious Incompetent. They know what they should be doing but often fall “off the wagon”. This could be the dieter who just can’t say no to cakes when it’s some ones birthday at work (and there are a lot of birthdays at their office!) despite the fact they know it will hinder their fat loss or the weight trainer who, more often than not, misses their Friday leg workout because the guys on the football team convince him to skip training and have a few beers down the pub instead, despite the fact he knows this will unbalance his weekly training programme. Conscious Incompetents need help with motivation and assurance that the new habits they are trying to develop will be of long term benefit. Tools such as goal setting and decision balance sheets can be very beneficial for this type of person.
To an outsider, those that have reached Conscious Competence may seem to have it easy but the reality is that, despite the fact they eat what they should and exercise regularly, it’s a struggle. They’d love to skip a workout or two or relax their diets and eat some junk food but they just won’t give in to temptation. Periodically the gravitational pull of the sofa, the lure of the pub or the thought of sugary foods can get to the point where they feel like it would be easier to just give up and indulge but they stay focused and stick with it - but it’s not always easy to do the right thing. For this person, positive affirmations can be very useful to help maintain focus and as a reminder that all the hard work is worth it.
At this level, exercise and eating well are a part of everyday life. No external stimuli are necessary as habits are now just a fact of life and it would be unthinkable to not exercise regularly or eat well. For this type of person, adherence to regular exercise and good nutrition are easy which, ironically, can make them less than ideal as mentors to those people who find sticking to their new healthy lifestyle choices a struggle. It’s possible they may lack empathy as it’s been so long since they found exercising frequently and eating well a struggle. Ideally, we should all strive to reach this level of self-mastery but the reality is that very few do which is probably just as well or personal trainers and nutritionists the world over would soon be out of a job!