Despite what you might’ve read, heard, or believe, tuning in to your gut instincts can be a powerful way to make important decisions. This seems to ring especially true at work, where your Spidey sense might tell you exactly what to do as you navigate creative differences at work, chase your career goals, or even make a big leap like leaving your job to build your own brand. We chatted with five inspiring women to uncover when they knew it was time to listen to their inner instincts — along with what happened when they did.

A woman meets with a client

1. Carolyn Witte, Tia: Witte, the 27-year-old CEO and co-founder of next-generation health advisor Tia, tells us that her decision to plunge into the startup world was a tough one: “I had landed my dream job at Google’s Creative Lab and genuinely loved the work (and the people!) I got to work with every day.” But once the idea for Tia sparked in her mind? “It quickly took over as the only thing I could think about, making everything else I was working on in my super-cool day job pale in comparison.” Witte says that her fear of failure made her reluctant to jump ship, but a mentor helped her listen to her gut. “‘Most people are lucky if they have one really good idea in their life,’ they said. ‘When I hear you talk about Tia and why this needs to exist, I know this a really, really good idea. You need to follow that. Because there might not be another one.’” Today, Tia boasts a handful of awesome investors and has powered 200,000 convos within its app.

2. Elisabeth Rosario, Communications Consultant: Rosario’s resume as a consultant is impressive, having worked with big-time brands like ClassPass and Squarespace; but the decision to set up shop and work for herself was one that definitely called for listening to her inner voice. “I’ve been working for myself for the past year, and I feel like I have to make gut decisions every single day,” she explains. “When you have your own consulting business, every single role and activity is, of course, being done by you — whether it’s finding and talking to potential clients, invoicing (or re-invoicing!) your clients, executing on the work itself, or managing the finances and banking. The process never ends!” When it comes to knowing when to trust your instinct, Rosario offers some sound advice. “I’ve found that I’ve become really good at trusting my gut after trial and error and, frankly, making annoying mistakes.” She tells us the toughest part is deciding which projects are right for her and when it’s time to say no. “I have to talk to an entrepreneur and think: Are they going to be fun to work with? Are they going to listen to my advice? Are they going to pay me and value the work I’ve done? Ultimately working on something fun and creative is more important to me than the pay — I don’t want my work life to be a nightmare because of a check.” So inspiring.

Two colleagues talk together

3. Erin Halper, The Upside: “For seven years, I had a rewarding career as a marketing consultant. I realized that I had the ‘Holy Grail’ of ‘Mommy Jobs,’ with great pay, tons of flexibility, and the ability to WFH,” Halper shares. “But at the same time, I also saw several multi-level marketing companies swooping onto the scene, all of them selling women the dream of having it all: work, balance, and income. My instinct was on fire while my gut kept asking, ‘How is it possible that an accomplished career professional with a Harvard MBA and 15 years of corporate achievements has only three choices: Drop out of the workforce, struggle to do it all with a full-time job, or join a multi-level marketing company?’” Halper couldn’t drop her desire to do it differently, so she began researching ways she might be able to help qualified women do more of the work they love while juggling chaos at home. The outcome was building The Upside, a curator of world-class, flexible, scalable, part-time, and on-demand talent. “I always tell our clients, ‘If you’re willing to think even the slightest bit differently about hiring VP, director, and C-level professionals, you’ll have access to a treasure trove of the most exclusive, pedigreed, loyal, and effective talent pool corporate America has ever seen,’” Halper beams. Luckily, clients are catching on.

4. Chaya Cooper, Click2Fit: Cooper says that her decision to listen to her gut came with ignoring leading industry experts while she was building her company, Click2Fit. “I realized that most of the pain points and inefficiencies in shopping for clothing could be solved by developing an automated expert system that accurately recommended clothing you’ll love, that flatters and fits,” she notes. “When leading experts told me that the technology wasn’t feasible, I designed the software’s architecture and convinced them otherwise.” As if that wasn’t badass enough, Cooper says that when she couldn’t get the funding to design AI software so complex, she learned how to build it herself; fast-forward several years later, and Cooper’s Click2Fit is about to start beta testing its expert recommendation software — with Cooper as a full-fledged software engineer.

5. Sara Weinreb, IMBY: In addition to helping you take a chance, trusting your gut can also save you major stress. Weinreb, a consultant who specializes in helping startups grow, tells us about a time she used instincts to turn a potential problem client down. “I was approached by a client who wanted to hire me to help her in building out a new startup she was creating from the ground up. After several meetings and shifting priorities, it was clear to me that the client was not clear enough on what she was expecting from me, and therefore I was not confident in how I could support her. I decided to trust my gut that this project would cause me more stress than good and turned it down.” Amazingly, the client returned to Weinreb just a few weeks later. “This time, the client came with a clear project with concrete deliverables and a reasonable timeline for me to execute on. I turned down the initial, chaotic project and ended up with an executable project I was thrilled to work on and deliver.” So awesome!

Tweet us about a time when you relied on your gut instinct at work @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)