Some useful teachings by Ajaan Fuang on this topic below.
Ajaan Fuang teaches not to plan how the meditation would go, or deliberately look out for signs to determine what stage you're at, or to be obsessed about what the next steps should be. Instead, he teaches to go on practising by oneself to find out how things will turn out.
From my understanding, one should not just reach one stage and then rush over to the next. One should instead master one stage, then go on to master the next.
In my opinion, it is also useful to have such a teacher to guide the student when he finds that the student has reached an impasse or is going on the wrong path. Otherwise, if the teacher finds that the student is progressing on the right path, he should allow the student to discover the next steps on his own.
§ When Ajaan Fuang taught meditation, he didn't like to map things out
in advance. As soon as he had explained the beginning steps, he'd have
the student start sitting right in his presence, and then take the
steps back home to work on there. If anything came up in the course of
the practice, he'd explain how to deal with it and then go on to the
Once a layman who had known more than his share of meditation teachers
came to discuss the Dhamma with Ajaan Fuang, asking him many questions
of an advanced nature as a way of testing his level of attainment.
Ajaan Fuang asked him in return, "Have you had these experiences in
your own meditation yet?"
"No, not yet."
"Then in that case I'd rather not discuss them, because if we discuss
them when they're not yet a reality for you, they'll just be theories,
and not the real Dhamma."
§ One meditator noticed that his practice under Ajaan Fuang was making
quick progress, and so he asked what the next step would be. "I'm not
going to tell you," Ajaan Fuang said. "Otherwise you'll become the
sort of amazing marvel who knows everything before he meets with it,
and masters everything before he's tried his hand. Just keep
practicing and you'll find out on your own."
§ "You can't plan the way your practice is going to go. The mind has
its own steps and stages, and you have to let the practice follow in
line with them. That's the only way you'll get genuine results.
Otherwise you'll turn into a half-baked arahant."
§ "Don't make a journal of your meditation experiences. If you do,
you'll start meditating in order to have this or that thing happen, so
that you can write it down in your journal. And as a result, you'll
end up with nothing but the things you've fabricated."