Success on guitar takes time and you need to move through 5 distinct stages before you reach success. The 5 stages of change refers to a research paper by Don Kelley and Daryl Connor (University of Toronto) called the ‘Emotional cycle of change’. The 5 stages are as follows.
- Uninformed optimism.
- Informed pessimism.
- Hopeful realism (Valley of despair)
- Informed optimism.
- Success and fulfilment.
The 5 stages are said to occur no matter what the change or situation. Sometimes you will move through each stage quickly, sometimes slowly but there is no skipping it. Let’s apply this to learning guitar.
1. Uninformed optimism. This is the fun and exciting stage. You decide to learn guitar and have just pull your new guitar out of it’s box. You feel a rush of excitement imagining yourself playing your favourite songs. You sign up for lessons with a local guitar school and all is well.
2. Informed pessimism. At this stage you become aware of the cost of change. The reality of learning guitar if you like. Having to practice tedious exercises, giving up your already limited leisure time, the financial cost of lessons along with the travel time required. You question whether it’s all really worth it.
3. Hopeful realism. (The valley of doom). The effort seems to far outweigh the reward. You have lost sight of that optimistic vision that set you on this journey in the first place. You are ready to abandon the whole thing and return to your former life. This is when most guitar students give up on their dream. They rationalise their decision with statements like “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have the talent” or “I can’t afford the lessons” none of which is really true. During stage 1 they were quite willing to put in the time, believed that talent came with practice and saw the cost as a small price to pay to reach an important goal.
4. Informed optimism. Stage 1 was positive whereas stages 2 and 3 were negative and very much a struggle. Now we return to a positive stage. If you reach this stage your chances of success go way up. This is where your hard work and commitment pay off. You now see yourself as a guitarist and picking it up each day is something you look forward to.
5. Completion and success. For the guitar student it means you have reached your goal in terms of accomplishment but note, to go to the next level you will need go through the stages once again.