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

By Anni

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.

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.

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…

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.

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!

P.S. Wanna Learn More About Finding Your Path In Life?

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Why Is It Important To Love Your Job?

About the author 


Hi! I'm a life coach, a Certified MBTI® Practitioner, and a mentor for stressed out introverts and highly sensitive people. I used to be one myself! My mission is to help you discover your true self and create a life you ACTUALLY like.

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  1. You keep on writing and doing what u r doing girl!
    Your writing is not only well presented, well though-out, and insightful – it is Inspiring.

  2. Thank you for writing this. I feel like you spoke directly to me. I’ve hated my job for so long but I stuck with it because I was pregnant and needed the health insurance.. and now it’s because we truly need it to pay the bills. I recently decided to take a serious look at a new career field and it’s given me something positive to look forward to every day.
    Thank you for telling me what I needed to hear. You’ve honestly reached someone with this post and helped me find a way to keep going <3

    1. Thank you SO much for letting me know the post was helpful. I’m glad you’ve been able to find something to look forward to. It really helps with not feeling stuck. Take care! 🙂

  3. That’s exactly what I’m going through right now, stuck in a job that’s makes me feel unhappy, crying every single night until I fall asleep… not sure what to do, what others may think of me if I quit, feeling like such a looser because I hate and want to quit my job

    1. I thought I was going through this alone!! My usually-supportive boyfriend has been at a loss for words as I keep bursting into tears from the stress and thought of work the next day. You and I have exactly the same fears, and worry too much about what others will think.

      I am reading this article at 4:00 a.m. because I couldn’t sleep, and it has already put some of my nerves at ease. Thank you so much for the advice Anni, it really makes a difference!!

      1. Hi Arianna, you are definitely not alone with the 4am stress. I’m so glad to hear the advice made a difference. It’s a sucky situation right now, but it doesn’t have to last forever.

  4. #jobthatpaysthebills, this is exactly what I needed. I am not sure why pinterest suggested this, but it must have been the universe listening to me. Thank you so much for this well written advice. Found this is at the right time.

  5. I love my job & what I actually do.My hours are great & the pay is decent.But, my boss is a tyrant bitch that is miserable in her life so tries to make others that way.

  6. Anni-I stumbles into your page today and felt like i found someone who could put into words how I felt and then you went many steps further by showing me how I could make my life better. Thank you! This article especially is what I’m dealing with right now. Thank you for the support and ideas. I’m printing out this article and hanging it at my desk where only I can see it.

  7. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Sometimes just hearing that others are going through similar problems helps and gives you hope for a better tomorrow. Many blessings to you! Melissa

  8. Love the recommendation for figuring out what to do next. No one like to work a job that they hate. You clearly have giving some great tips in your article thanks you very much.

  9. Lady, between this post and the ideal day post, it is SO clear what I need to do. I am a mechanical engineer by trade, and my passion in life is designing shit, then building it to see if it works. (Mostly sewing patterns and house renovating). But I actually kinda suck at work cause it’s mostly lengthy, detailed analysis bullshit.
    My ideal day looked JUST like yours except that my morning starts with drinking coffee and snuggling my cat before the munchkins wake up and need me. And I don’t have a huz to help.
    BUT! I am going to commit to living out my ideal day every Friday when I don’t have normal job. Work on my ideal job during your writing time. See if I can make progress on my side hustle.
    Thank you so much for your inspiration and clear cut advice!!

    1. I’m into renovating and designing shit too! We have a fixer upper that we are very slowly turning into our dream home. But anyway, turning Fridays into your ideal day sounds like a great start!

  10. Thank you – I stumbled across your website the other day and really appreciate how you just lay it out in steps, whatever the problem is. I can relate to practically everything you’ve written about, as an introvert/depressive/highly sensitive, you name it. Keep doing what you do. Thanks again.

  11. Ani
    I have never been a good reader, would start reading many books and easily get bored. Only a few writers have been able to make me want to continue reading and you are one of them. I could not stop reading this article. Continue doing what you are doing, you are an excellent writer. Thank you for sharing your great ideas.

  12. Today is the last day I will set in tears over my job with no hope of a better tomorrow. I have dreamed of starting my own Bookkeeping Business for years as I love Bookkeeping but I have been afraid to step out so starting today I am going to design a plan and work my way to my first client. Thank you for your article I so needed this today…

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