As you progress in your career, you might think it’s natural for your paycheck to keep growing. That’s the way things are supposed to go, right? After all, you keep gaining experience and your skills are improving; you’re like a fine Italian wine. Unfortunately, that’s not always the way things go, and sometimes, taking a pay cut can actually benefit your career. Consider it one step back for two steps forward.

Here are some instances when taking a pay cut could actually benefit your career.

It’s time for a change

If the first thing you feel in the morning is anxiety about the workday ahead, it might be time for something new. Often, that means a fresh start, which could involve moving to a new industry (or even a new city). This could mean starting from scratch, in a junior position with lower pay. The payoff here, though, is to get on a path toward your ideal career – something that is not anxiety inducing. The question you have to ask yourself is, would you rather stick it out at a job that isn’t right for you or be engaged and motivated all day for lower pay? For many people, the latter is an obvious choice, and it can often lead to more lucrative opportunities down the road.

Your work-life balance is out of whack

Sometimes the work (or industry) is just right. The work load, though, is a problem. A happy career isn’t always about climbing the corporate ladder to the very top. For some people, the key is in finding the right balance between the demands of the office and your own passions, interests, and family. Finding the balance that works for you might just require shifting to a less demanding position, even if it means accepting a lower salary.

If this appeals to you, you’re not alone. We recently asked our Twitter followers what would motivate them to take a pay cut, and a better work-life balance came out number one.

Your dream job (or company) comes calling

The company you’ve dreamed about for years has an opening that fits your experience. You apply and get an interview, and it goes great, greater than you ever thought it would, except for one thing: an awkward silence fills the room when you tell them your salary demands. This happens more often than you think. The fantasy of a dream job doesn’t always mesh with our financial realities, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. Think about what it was that first attracted you to that company and position. Do those things still interest you? Can you still picture yourself in the position? Does the thought make you feel warm and tingly and motivated? If you answered yes to these questions, this opportunity is probably worth a pay cut.

You’re looking to get ahead

The corporate world can be strange, and sometimes, taking a step down on the salary ladder can actually put you in a better position to climb higher in the future. For example, moving from a smaller organization to a larger one can mean more opportunities for career advancement, skills training, networking, and picking up industry-specific expertise. Making less money in the short term can be challenging, but in that scenario, the benefits to your long-term career far outweigh the sacrifice.

You want more perks

Compensation packages usually involve more than just a paycheck, and sometimes accepting a smaller number on your pay stub can be a smart move if it’s offset by more vacation time (or unlimited vacation time), better health coverage, a flexible working schedule, training possibilities, or other benefits that you care about.

You can’t deny your entrepreneurial spirit

If you’re consumed by a can’t-miss business idea (or if you’re just sick of working for someone else), it’s probably time you gave it a shot. Sure, losing a stable income can be a tough adjustment, but there is a lot to gain going this route: you can be your own boss (and you might one day be hiring your own employees). Just make sure you have enough savings before you take this leap of faith.

In the end, accepting a lower salary is not always the setback it appears to be. Sometimes it’s a strategic move that can lead to a happier, more fulfilling, career.