It's hard not to compare yourself to other people, regardless of how old you are, or what stage you're at in your career. You might even find yourself comparing the reality of what you've accomplished today, to the vision you once held, perhaps years or even decades ago, of your then future self.

"Have I reached my fullest career potential?"

"Of the goals and dreams I had for myself back in my college or grad school days, have I achieved any of them yet?"

"If I haven't reached my goals, will I ever?"

Legitimate questions, for sure. But new research should give you more confidence that your best years may still be ahead of you. An exhaustive study of nearly 30,000 artists, film directors, and scientists shows that 90 percent of people will experience a "hot streak" in their career, a period of two to five years when "an individual's performance is substantially better than his or her typical performance," according to the study.

Findings from the research, which was led by Dashun Wang, an associate professor at Northwestern University, were published in Nature and featured in a recent article in The New York Times.

The good news? It could happen at any point in your career, and is not linked to how productive you are. "Instead, it's that the quality of work produced during that time is higher than a person's overall average output," reports The Times.

Just because people tend to be more productive at midcareer does not mean they've hit their hot streak. "It's not because age and creativity are intertwined," Wang told The Times. Rather, it's because people are generally more productive midcareer than at any other time.

What truly matters, Wang told The Times, is that no matter where you're at in your career, "there is hope."

"As long as you keep producing," he said, "your best work may be yet to come."