This Is How You Know It's Time To Switch Careers, According To Experts

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For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.

Changing your career isn't as scary as it sounds. I say this as someone with not one, but two law degrees, who now works as a sex and dating writer. Safe to say, I've made some big changes — though maybe not ones my parents are thrilled about. But if what you're doing isn't making you happy, then why not change it? That being said, there are definitely some practical issues you should consider before you make the change. So it's important to be thoughtful as you go about changing your career. But, if you know the risks and can accept them, there are so many ways that you can benefit.

"As long as you have a compelling reason to change your career, there are only pros," XCaliber Coaching & Consulting founder and career coach Alex Aberle tells Bustle. "Your ability to make a bold move will feel liberating, and there is a chance that the feeling of freedom can inspire you to do even more in your professional and your personal life." And I definitely agree.

This is not to say that you should walk up to your boss and shout "I quit!" tomorrow without some viable alternatives. There's bold, and then there's just plain silly. So here's how you know if you really should switch careers, because you have to be prepared to hustle.

Obviously, the biggest factor is how happy you are in your current career. If you're super excited to go into work every day, earn a good living, and love what you do, then it would be silly to jump ship just for a change of pace. But if you're feeling unfulfilled or like there's no room for growth, you may need to start looking around at what else is out there. And don't get too bogged down in the details at first. “Look at that broader concept of your ‘dream job,’” career expert Maxie McCoy tells Bustle. “And find out what kind of meaning that work has for you. When you really understand your ‘why’ in this world, you can match that up with a job that allows you to do that more days than not.”

If you look at what a job actually entails and what you could potentially get out of it, rather than just the title, you'll have more options.

This one is a no-brainer. If you're actually so unhappy at your job that it's having a negative impact on your health, then you definitely should look at changing. It's not giving up — just remember that not everyone is the right fit for all jobs. Be prepared to take care of yourself and find something that really suits you.

Switching career paths takes work — especially if it's into something you don't have experience with. "Before quitting your current job, ask yourself one simple question," says Aberle. “'How much effort am I willing to put in building my new career?' You have to be willing to be uncomfortable while going through change. If you are passionate about succeeding, you will overcome temporary hardships." That means being OK with starting from the bottom or re-training. If you're not prepared to take a step down and work hard to prove yourself, changing careers might not be for you.

Starting over also can mean some real sacrifices. "You definitely need to set realistic expectations that you will be starting over again, and that means at the bottom," Aberle says. "You will probably need to overhaul your budget, and your lifestyle. Moreover, you might find yourself needing to take an internship to even get your foot in the door — I did! Don’t think you are above these things. If you are really serious about starting a new career you might have to do things you don’t want to do, or feel too old to do … do them anyway. It will not only be a great learning experience, it will ensure that you are making the right decision changing your career in the first place." It's important to either have the funds already — or be able to live on a much smaller budget than you may be used to.

You don't need to be stuck in one career path forever — especially if you're not happy in it. If you're willing to make some sacrifices, then there's very little to lose from trying out something new.