What To Do When You Hate Your Job But Feel Like You Can’t Quit

Confession: When I’ve read career books and articles in the past, I’ve sometimes felt a little twinge of envy toward the author. As in “easy for you to say when you already have it all figured out.”

Well, you, my dear reader, will not need to feel that way about me.

Because in the very immediate past, I have set my head down on my desk and cried. Cried because I hate thejobthatpaysthebills. Cried because in that moment I felt like I couldn’t take thejobthatpaysthebills for one more second. Cried because every precious day I give to thejobthatpaysthebills is a day of my life I can never get back.

A day of my life that was spent bouncing from bored to stressed to uninspired. A day of my life filled with negativity, silly drama, and power plays…

Yes, my dear reader, I hate my job and I feel like I can’t quit, because right now this job is the main source of income for my family of five.

Being stuck in a job you hate is the worst kind of stuck feeling and it’s very hard to not let it completely defeat you.

But not impossible. This thrashing river can be crossed.

Below is the 12-step program I’m implementing in my own life to survive this sucky phase of life. And I sincerely hope it helps you the way it has helped me.

What To Do When You Hate Your Job But Feel Like You Can’t Quit

1. Know that you are not alone.

It’s not just you and me in this predicament. In The Pathfinder, Nicholas Lore, a career coach and founder of the Rockport Institute, an organization devoted to career design, states that 40 percent of American workers are at least somewhat unhappy with their jobs and 10 percent are in outright “career hell.”

While it’s sad that there are so many of us, just know that it’s not unheard of to end up in this situation. It’s not just you.

2. Examine the reasons you feel like you can’t quit your job.

Are you 100 percent, cross your heart, wiggle your toes, rock-solid CERTAIN that quitting your job in the very near future is not a possibility?

I’m asking because it could be that the problem is your current work environment and simply finding another job in the same field might be the solution.

I’m asking because it could be that you are being held prisoner by “golden handcuffs.” It could be that you have gotten used to a nice salary and a certain standard of living, but if you were honest with yourself, you would admit that you don’t really NEED to be making as much money as you are used to.

I’m asking because it could be that whoever it is that you are supporting financially has unreasonable expectations. It could be that your spouse with the shopping addiction or your teenager who has to have the latest and greatest are holding the keys to your golden handcuffs.

These are all questions worth asking.

But did you read these questions and say no, no, no?

No, you will be just as unhappy in a different job in the same field. No, you REALLY need the money from your current job to feed your kids and keep a roof over your heads.

If that’s you, then read on.

3. Figure out what you would actually like love to do.

So it’s clear you hate your job and can’t quit, but if you COULD quit, what would your dream career be?

If the answer is not immediately clear to you, start the figuring out process with these articles:

How To Figure Out What To Be When You Grow Up – As A Grown-Up

How To Find Your Passion: Ask These 10 Questions

The Single Most Helpful Exercise For Figuring Out What You Should Do With Your Life

This process might take a while – weeks, even months. That’s ok. Let yourself really dig deep and find the path that is right for you.

4. Figure out what needs to happen to make your dream career a reality.

You can’t quit your job today or tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean you can’t quit ever.

What needs to happen to make your dream career a reality? Outline the steps and create a rough realistic timeline.

And this is the point where you are almost guaranteed to get discouraged. It’s going to take TOO long. But don’t let the timeline stop you.

Even if it will take you 10 years, think about how you will feel 10 years from now. Ten years from now, do you want to be thanking yourself for going after your dream? Or do you want to be still working the job you hate only because you never took the first step on the path of change?

5. Set an end date.

Figuring out a rough timeline will not only help you structure your path to change, but it will also allow you to do something really satisfying. It will allow you to set a date when you will definitely quit the job you hate. Setting a date will give you comfort in knowing that the current situation will not continue forever.  Having an actual date you can circle in the calendar will make it more real.

6. Start taking steps toward your goal.

Whatever steps need to be taken in order for you to reach your goals, start taking them.

If it feels too overwhelming, let yourself start small. Break everything into baby steps.

The first step could be something as simple as doing internet research, buying a book or two, signing up for a course…

Related: No Willpower? How To Crush Your Goals Anyway

7. Find a way to follow your passion outside of work.

If you took the time to do step #3 right, you should have a pretty clear idea of who you are and what kind of work brings you joy.

Now try to find a way to somehow incorporate that work into your life outside of your jobthatpaysthebills. Even if you only have time for a little, it’s still worth it. Maybe you can volunteer or join a related organization. Or if you want to get into a creative career like me, just start creating. 🙂

8. Start doing whatever you can to make your financial situation more secure.

The DATE won’t get here as fast as you want it to, but it WILL get here. And when you finally arrive at that transition phase, some extra cash socked away won’t hurt. So start getting your finances in order and building up your savings. Even if you can’t set aside much, any little bit will help.

9. Find someone sympathetic you can unload on.

You are in a tough spot. You need support. Don’t feel like you have to put on a brave face all the time and pretend that everything is ok when it’s really not. This is your one life. It’s a big deal that you are spending a huge chunk of it doing something you hate. You are allowed to bitch and moan about it.

10. Put your mental energy into the new career you are making – not the old one you are trying to get away from.

I just said that it’s ok to bitch and moan. But here’s the thing…. The more mental real estate you are able to devote to the new career you are making as opposed to dwelling on the current misery, the more excited and happier you will feel.

So bitch and moan when you need to, but then drop it and devote your mental energy to where it can make a difference.

Related: How To Get Over Past Regrets So You Can Move On

11. Keep reminding yourself of the “why”.

Whenever you are having a rough time (because that will happen), try to remind yourself of why you are sticking with the hated job for now.

Who are you supporting? What is your purpose?

12. Be extra nice to yourself.

Doing a job you hate will drain you faster than just about any other type of torture you can subject yourself to. You deserve to be pampered. Take care of your body by getting exercise and good sleep. Take care of your mind by doing things you enjoy in your free time.

Related: How To Start An Exercise Routine And Actually Stick To It

Related: How To Reduce Stress 


So there you have it: what to do when you hate your job.

Figure out what you would love to do instead.  Set a date. Start taking baby steps now. Just go for it!

Are you with me? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 🙂


How To Figure Out What To Be When You Grow Up – As A Grown-Up
The Single Most Helpful Exercise For Figuring Out What You Should Do With Your Life
How To Find Your Passion: Ask These 10 Questions
Three Ways To Make A Living Without A Job
5 Ways You Might Be Standing In The Way Of Your Best Life
How To Manage Anxiety Without Meds
How To Reduce Stress When You Are Drowning In Overwhelm
What I Wish Someone Had Said To Me When I First Got Depressed
3 Potential Reasons Why You Are Not Happy (And How To Fix Them)
How To Make Your Brain Happy



I seriously hate my job!!! Sound like you? Check out this article for advice on what to do when you hate your job but feel like you can't quit.


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