Whether you have serious financial obligations, pressure from others or no idea what else to do with your life, sometimes quitting a job you hate can seem like the one thing that will fix your life… but also the one thing you can’t do. So what should you do when you hate your job but can’t quit? Here are three steps to help you break free.
Step one: Take an objective look at the situation
When you’re stuck in a seemingly impossible situation, it can be difficult to look at things objectively. However, the truth is that heightened emotions and a fear of the unknown tend to stop most of us from exploring all of our options.
Avoid this trap by looking objectively at the problem at hand. The best way to do this is to act as if it is a friend that is in your situation. What would you say to them if they said they hate their job but can’t quit it?
Ask them (aka you) why they feel they can’t quit their job. And make sure you dig deep with this question and stick to pure facts rather than speculation.
For example, “I can’t find a job doing anything else” may feel like a fact to you, but unless you’ve applied for (and been rejected from) every job in the world, that reason is an opinion, not a fact.
Once you’ve narrowed your reasons down to those that are facts, explore these reasons further. For example, don’t just stop at “I need the money”, instead list out how much money you actually need to make each month and what you need the money for. When you have this information, you will be able to determine if you really need the whole paycheck you currently receive or if you have leeway for taking a pay cut.
Step two: What can you do to make the situation more bearable?… for now
To put this step into action, you will need to break down the exact cause of your misery. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down what you like about your current job. Include everything, from the role to the people, the pay, the perks, the commute and even the lunch options you have at your disposal.
Once you’re clear about what you like, write a list of the things you hate about your current job.
Now take a closer look at that list.
There may be several things you hate about your job, but there tends to be one overriding factor that trumps the rest – that’s the thing that usually makes you want to shout “I quit” and storm out of the office on a daily basis.
Circle that ‘thing’ and ask yourself what you can do to make it more bearable while you figure out your escape plan.
- If it’s a line manager that you don’t get along with, you could speak with HR and ask to report to someone else.
- If it’s a commute you hate, why not speak to your boss to see if you can work at least one day a week from home.
- If your work/life balance is non-existence, it could be time to set clear boundaries. Leave your work phone in the office over the weekend or switch off email notifications on your phone.
- Dealing with an office bully? Ask to move to a different part of the office, always bring a third party into meetings with you and the bully, start documenting all bullying incidents and only communicate with them via email.
- Bored to death? Focus on identifying what you would like to do for work instead. You can do this by taking evening or weekend classes that interest you, checking out some online courses, heading over to Eventbrite and signing up for some events you like the sound of, or reaching out to friends, family or colleagues who have jobs that sound interesting to you.
Spending time taking positive action will do a lot to improve any feelings of hopelessness you may be experiencing.
Step three: Figure out the next logical step
Once you’ve made the situation more bearable in the short-term, it’s time to work out your long-term escape plan.
To do this, you will need to go back to the list you made in step two and identify the top reason you hate your job. This will determine the next step you need to take to break free from work misery.
If you aren’t sure what your problem is, take a look at our free New Career or New Job Cheatsheet – it will help you figure out what’s really upsetting you.
Once you know why you hate your job, take a moment to think of the best case scenario. If a genie could give you your dream career, what would you wish for?
Got an idea? Then it’s time to explore how you can make that idea your job. What problem can you solve for people while doing your dream career? If there’s a problem to be solved, there’s money to be made!
You don’t need to quit your job to pursue this thing… yet. All you need to concern yourself with right now is putting together an action plan and then taking the next logical step to put that plan in motion.
Ready to take that next step? Check out our Career Clarity Bootcamp!
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