It's crazy to think that the average American spends 90,000 hours of their life at work. And it's even more shocking that only 33% of Americans are engaged at work.

But there is one thing that is reassuring: we all still aspire to achieve our dream jobs and reach peak performance at work. With these goals in mind, we continue on the road to career advancement.

But there is a difference between career advancement and true career breakthrough. It's important not to rely on artificial validation: a salary raise, a great performance review, or a promotion. While these are all wonderful things to experience, we must be careful to discern whether this is true progress towards our dream jobs, or if it's simply progress towards the dream jobs others have in mind for us.

So how do you know if you're really on the brink of a real career breakthrough? Here are five signs to look out for:


  1. You've hit a metaphorical wall. You need a new plan.Sometimes getting trapped in a corner is necessary to finally break through. If you're feeling stuck, suppressed, or simply bored at work, know that this might just be the beginning of an exciting career journey. While hitting the metaphorical wall isn't enjoyable in the moment, it will lend you a sense of urgency and a newfound resourcefulness to finally figure out your next big move and go for it.


  1. You are more open about doing things differently than you've ever been before.An attraction to novelty is one of the surest signs that you're ready to shake things up and leave work as you know it behind. Whether you are experimenting with a new sales process or exploring a newfound curiosity for cooking, your openness to innovation will no doubt spill over into your day job. Fresh, new ideas are on the horizon, and you are ready to take advantage of them.


  1. Your determination and desire is at an all-time high. You are deeply committed to change and have the discipline required to make it.We all have career dreams. We look to the future with ten-year career plans and visions of happiness and engagement at work. But the doers--the movers and the shakers--who have the guts to get up and start executing those plans are the true winners in life. You'll know it's time to break through in your career when you find that you're not afraid of hard work. You're willing to get your hands dirty now if it means remarkable results in the end.


  1. You know (or are determined to know) your genius and are willing to say no to anything that does not leverage it.This is the big one. Whether you are on the bring of a career breakthrough or not, the best way to get started is to get to know yourself. Focus on figuring out your innate genius and purpose in life. Observe how your strengths--and resulting engagement--manifest at work, and start making strategic moves that better align who you are with what you do. The ones who are truly ready for a career breakthrough know that they will have to say no to good in order to say yes to great.


  1. You have the support or financial safety or both to stretch your comfort zone and take a risk like never before.The benefits of a financial safety net and a supportive network cannot be denied. When we are free from the restraints of money and from the need to always be on guard with the people around us, we can comfortably explore who we are, what we want to do, and all the steps and experiments it takes to get there.