#1
I am still very much a beginner, but I recently had an happy jump in the "quality" of my playing. My right hand got more skilled. It used to follow the left hand. If the left hand screwed up (and it did that a lot) then my right hand would stop.
Noob problems, right?
Well the right hand is finally starting to run its own show. My perspective has shifted. My thought process used to be left-hand dominated but now I can pay attention to each hand independently. (A little bit at least)

So there's a bunch of exercises that finally make sense for me to learn. For example I can learn Palm muting now. I couldn't make sense of it before. I knew what it was but it was impossible for me when I first started to try to learn it. Now I can practice it without completely screwing myself up.

what I'm interested in is - do any of you remember such a clear shift in your own playing and do you remember what you worked on immediately afterward?
#2
I've been playing for over 6 years now and 5 of those years were spent doing the "left hand dominated" thing you're talking about. I would beat myself up wondering what the hell I was doing wrong because I couldn't even begin to play shreddy stuff (except for some legato licks), even though that had been my main goal from the beginning. Now I'm really picking up speed since I corrected my technique. Just maintain that left and right hand balance. If your goal is to play fast stuff like me, then remember that your right hand is going to have to just go, go, go and your left hand will need to sync up with your right, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND (like I was doing for so damn long). As Paul Gilbert once stated: The left hand is your steering wheel and the right hand is your gas pedal.

As for where you should go from here, I suggest trying to learn some simple songs. When you're playing these songs, you'll encounter passages that will be tough for you, and practicing those passages will directly develop your technique further. I'm speaking from experience here because I've spent most of my guitar "career" playing exercises all the time, but I wish I had learned a lot more songs. Now that I'm learning songs, I can feel my technique getting better faster than when I did exercises. I think it's all about balancing both though. Best of luck sir!!!
#3
yeah the bell in your heaed will go ding ding ding from time to time when you finally get something.

my suggestion isn't to move on but rather really tighten up what you have going now to the point where you don't have to think about it. that's really important when learning to play, getting yourself to the point where you just do rather than think. i can usually tell when listening to newer guys (and sometimes guys that have been playing much longer) that they are thinking about what they are doing way to much as there is a bit of hesitation.

when i learn new things i really take my time incorporating it into my regular playing. i'll practice it some and then throw it in here and there as i go along. eventually it fits in naturally. i'm not a fan of repetitiously playing something for hours on end "trying to get it".