In academic literature, this general process is called the “three-stage model” of skill acquisition,4 and it applies to both physical and mental skills.
The three stages are;
1. Cognitive (Early) Stage—understanding what you’re trying to do, researching, thinking about the process, and breaking the skill into manageable parts.
2. Associative (Intermediate) Stage—practicing the task, noticing environmental feedback, and adjusting your approach based on that feedback.
3. Autonomous (Late) Stage—performing the skill effectively and efficiently without thinking about it or paying unnecessary attention to the process.
The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast! by Josh Kaufman