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When you should (and shouldn’t) change careers

April 7, 2015, 5:30 PM UTC
Courtesy of Purewow

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to change careers?” is by Ryan Harwood, CEO of Purewow.

Changing careers can be a scary thing. After nearly a decade in finance, I did a career 180 and began working in the media/tech industry. Looking back now I realize there are only three things to consider when you’re deciding whether or not to change careers:

What does your gut say?
That goes for everything in life, but especially in your career. When you envision yourself in the future, are you proud of the path you’re paving? Are your best qualities shining through in your current industry? If you’re not proud of your path–or you’re not fully coming to life in your industry–then you’ve already got your answer. However, it’s common for many people to feel unhappy with their jobs at some point in their career, so before changing careers make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. Work is work–it’s hard and it will always involve pressure, stress, and responsibility. It’s a truism across all industries, so don’t confuse your unhappiness with the burdens we all bear.

Are you willing to take the risk?
Does the idea of joining another industry excite you? Will it lead you to your dream job? This may be hard to answer given the fact that it’s probably in an industry you’ve never worked in, but if something excites you that much, then it may be worth a shot. However, before taking the jump make sure that your financial situation is stable enough so if you do fail, you can easily bounce back. When I asked myself this question, I felt secure that in a worst-case scenario, I could go back to the finance industry and find myself a reliable job. Regardless of whether that was accurate or not, it helped curb the fear associated with making the jump.

Is the timing right?
Changing careers is much easier when you don’t have children (and even easier if you’re single.) When you have to care for others, it’s certainly more difficult to take financial risks. At the end of the day if you’re not fulfilled and happy, everyone around you suffers. I didn’t change careers because I didn’t like finance–I love finance. But I recognized that I am happiest when I push my limits. And the more you care about your career, the more stress and responsibility you may feel–but these are good things. As my late grandfather always told me, “make it happen” and sometimes the only way to do that is by pushing yourself to succeed.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to change careers?

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How to successfully change careers (at any age) by Matthew Salzberg, CEO and founder of Blue Apron.