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I don't know what I'm doing

Do you ever stop and wonder if you know what you are doing?

Often when we start to learn a new skill, we are filled with confidence which sees us through any of the initial mishaps.

Then there comes a point when you get that one set back too many and your confidence drops and you start to wonder if you know what you are doing.

What if I tell you that this totally normal?

Let me introduce you to the Dunning Kruger effect and Imposter Syndrome.

Duning & Kruger looked at how people of low ability in a specific area often over estimated the level of their abilities. This is almost the opposite of the Imposter Syndrome where an individual doubts their own abilities.

Whilst the key message of the Dunning-Kruger effect is that the less someone knows about a topic, the more likely they are to be confident in that small amount of knowledge, it may also help us understand why we sometimes get those 'I don't know what I'm doing' moments.

When we start off on a new initiative, where it's a business venture, learning a new skill or say starting to knit, we are born through the initial set backs by our confidence that what we are doing is worth it, so we keep going.

Then, as our initial excitement starts to dwindle, we hit the same setbacks but now they are shocking to our system and we enter in to the 'valley of Despair' where we start to wonder why are we doing this?

In Psychology, the Hierarchy of Competence talks about the when we start on a new task as being Unconscious Incompetence where we don't know that we aren't good at the moment.

Then as we start to progress we understand just how much we don't know and go and do things to fill the gaps, and it is that action that takes out of the Valley of Despair into the Stop of Enlightenment.

Remember when you learnt to drive? I do. I would say aloud; 'mirror, signal, manoeuvre', this was me in conscious competence. I knew what I needed to do and I am consciously doing it.

Then one day, I caught myself just looking, signalling, and making the manoeuvre without saying it. Now I was into unconscious competence.

As you learn new things, those moments when you sit up and think 'I don't know what I'm doing' you are moving through learning and gaining skills which will help you also gain confidence.

So, simply, stop, have a cup of tea and carry on, you've got this.

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