“I hate my job, but can’t afford to quit right now.” If this thought runs through your mind on a weekly (or daily) basis, believe it or not, there’s a way out of this situation. The secret lies in taking a step back and assessing the situation objectively. So, how exactly can you do this? Follow the steps below to discover what you should do if you’re stuck in a job you hate but need the money.
What to do when you hate your job and can’t quit
Step 1: Work out how much of your current salary you need
“I hate my job but can’t afford to quit!
There’s a difference between being accustomed to the lifestyle your salary provides and needing every penny of your paycheck to survive. That difference comes down to three words: need versus want. If you truly hate your job but think you need the money, the first thing you should do is test the accuracy of your belief that you ‘need’ the money.
To do this, grab a copy of your bank statements from the past 6 months and calculate how much money you spend on essential things each month. To clarify, ‘essential’ refers to the things you need to survive each month. These are things like your rent, household bills, health essentials (such as medicine) and food. It does not include items and habits that make your life more comfortable, but you can actually do without. These are things like your gym membership, eating out, new clothes, makeup etc.
There’s a difference between being accustomed to the lifestyle your salary provides and needing every penny of your paycheck to survive.
Once you’ve added up how much money you spend on essential items each month, subtract that from your monthly salary (after tax). The figure you’re left with will show you if you really need all of the money you earn.
If this exercise has revealed that you can afford to earn less than you currently do, go to step 4. If it’s confirmed that you really do need every penny you earn, go to step 2.
Step 2: Figure out what you want to do instead
Ok, so we’ve established that “I hate my job but can’t afford to quit” really does apply to you. However, the situation isn’t hopeless. While you may not be able to quit your job tomorrow, you can still leave your job much sooner than you think.
But first, you need to figure out what you want to do instead. Do you want to stay in your current career/job field, but just need to work for a different company? Then the answer is simple: start looking for a job. Before you do so, make sure you check out these common job search mistakes and job interview mistakes to avoid to maximise your chances of success
If you’re sure you don’t want to stay in the role or field you currently work in, but have no idea you want to do instead, make sure you check out our Career Clarity Bootcamp – it’s near enough guaranteed to help you figure out the best career for you.
Once you know what you want to do instead of your current job, it’s time to review how to make sure you don’t take a pay cut while changing jobs. That’s where step 3 comes into play.
While you may not be able to quit your job tomorrow, you can still leave your job much sooner than you think.
Step 3: Create a gradual transition plan
It’s a common belief that getting out of a bad job needs to be a swift and dramatic event. However, the reality couldn’t be more different. We’re willing to bet that part of the pressure you’re currently feeling about being stuck in a job you hate but can’t leave is due to the fact that you want a solution right now. But, an unbearable job often becomes much more tolerable when you stop complaining and start working on an escape plan.
So, stop berating yourself for getting trapped in a nightmare job and stop sulking about how unfair life is. Instead, use your energy to create a strategy.
Start by writing down:
- the new job you want
- when you (realistically) wish to be in that job
- the first step you can take to make it a reality
Avoid the temptation to try and chart out all the steps you need to take to get into that job. Doing so is likely to leave you feeling frightened and overwhelmed. Instead, focus on the next thing you need to do to move closer to where you need to be. Once you achieve that, ask yourself “what do I need to do next?” and then go and do it.
The one thing to bear in mind while executing your plan is that you need to focus on transitioning from one career to another without giving up the security of your current job. That means that if you need to pick up a new skill or qualification, you should explore options, such as part-time or online study instead of going to university full time. You should also pay close attention to your past and present network as they can hold opportunities for you to move to a new job. Finally, if you’re in a company you like, and it’s just your role that’s upsetting you, be sure to take a look at this article that explains how to change careers within the same company.
Step 4: If you can afford to quit, then quit
This step is for you if, in step 1, you discovered that you need less money each month than you previously realised. It’s a huge discovery because it means that you have many more options than you thought you did at the start of this article.
So what should you do now?
Before you hand in your resignation, you’ll need to work out how you will meet your minimum monthly expenditures if you quit your current job. Could you freelance in your current role, freelance using another skill you have or start a side hustle?
Once you’ve decided on a way of maintaining your basic monthly outgoings, the next thing you need to do is get clear on what you’d like to do instead of your current job. Our Career Clarity Bootcamp can help you find answers if you have no clue about what you’d like to do with your life.
Know what your perfect next career is?
Then it’s time to take action. Research what you need to do to break into your new job, break this down into small steps, and then get to work.
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