How To Deal With A Job You Hate – 18 Tips To Get Through The Grind When You Can’t Afford To Quit
Humans are the only species known to continue doing tasks we hate for extended periods of time.
Well, it could be that meddling big brain of ours festering in anxieties that don’t actually exist. We fear the unknown, how our family and friends may perceive us, or we think that we’re not worthy of something better.
But more often than not, it’s because of money. We’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed.
Although it may be fun to envision the face of your boss as you give him the middle finger salute and proudly strut out the front door for the last time, most people remain silently seething.
It’s not out of cowardice, but practical reasoning.
Quitting before the time is right is irresponsible and can cause unnecessary stress and grief – not just for us, but also for our family.
The JOB, whether you love it or hate it, is our primary source of income, and is therefore a necessity.
But don’t get negged out. There is still a lot you can do to remain positive (and sane) when you can’t yet afford to quit. Here are 18 tips that will help you through the grind.
1. Save Hard
If you can, squirrel away as much as possible.
Having money in the bank opens up career and business opportunities. It will allow you to take risks that may not have been possible with zero savings.
If you build up six months of living expenses in reserve, you’re going to be much more confident that you can survive if you suddenly lost your job, or it may just give you the confidence to move on.
As tempting as it is to escape the humdrum of the working week, resist the urge to blow your wages on nights out, alcohol, and buying shit you don’t need for a quick pick-me-up.
2. Reduce Your Outgoings
Along the same lines, you should try to cut back on spending on anything that isn’t necessary.
Cutting expenses allows you to build your emergency fund quicker, and it also means that you could potentially accept a lower-paying job that would make you happier.
The budget cuts you make will depend on how quickly you wish to save. Bringing your lunch to work and refusing lattes might be enough, but you might also need to consider big changes like moving into a shared flat.
Don’t rule anything out and be prepared to make sacrifices – short term pain for long term gain and all that.
3. Get Your Side Hustle On
The internet, especially freelance sites like Upwork and Fiverr, has opened up a world of opportunity for anyone looking to make a little extra money on the side.
You probably already have skills that someone would be willing to pay for. Are you good at writing? Can you design wicked logos? Or does no one else do impressions as well as you?
Or if you’re more hands-on, what about starting an outdoor maintenance or dog walking business?
Think about what skills you have that could be used to quickly get a service-based business up and running. You’d be surprised at what people are willing to pay for.
Plus, having a side hustle will give you something to look forward to outside of work, it will help you save faster, and you never know, it may even take off and become your full-time gig.
4. Set A Deadline For Change
Without setting a deadline for our goals, they’ll forever remain dreams.
If you’re serious about quitting your job, pick a date to hand in your resignation.
This can be scary, but also exhilarating.
Knowing that there’s an end date to the misery and you’re moving on to greater things is a huge mental boon. Whatever day to day struggles your facing, grin and bear it, they won’t last forever.
So, whether you’re planning to switch companies, careers or countries, set a goal and put a deadline on it.
5. Adopt A Stoic Mindset
It can be hard to find joy when you’re in the grind, but trust me, you’ll one day be grateful for this nightmare of a job.
You’ll look back on the experience as “character building”. And if nothing else, it will make you appreciate a good job once you eventually land it.
I know that’s not what you want to hear right now, but there’s value in even the crappiest of jobs.
Tough times present you with an opportunity to grow stronger. Each day you slog it out and don’t crumble, you become more resilient. And resilience is a super skill that will allow you to keep pushing and working hard through the tedium, which is what’s required to achieve greatness in anything.
And on those days when you can’t snap out of it, remember that whatever you’re facing, probably ain’t that bad.
You haven’t lost a loved one, or a limb or your eyesight. If you stop to think about how worse off you could be, you’ll probably find that you’re having quite a good day.
6. Make A List Of Things You Like About Your Job
“Easy, I don’t like anything about my job!”
Really? Don’t you like getting paid? Or the holidays? What about the days your employer still pays you when you’re too sick to work?
And surely you appreciate the pension contributions your company makes?
What about the skills and knowledge you’ve picked up over the years?
If you really thought about it, you’d be able to come up with a long list of things you like about any job.
Once you’ve done that…
7. Make A List Of What You Dislike About Your Job
To ensure you don’t end up a perpetual job-hopper, you’ve got to make sure your next role doesn’t have any (or very little) of the things you loathe about your current role.
Get clear on what you don’t like, so you can find a career that has more of the things you enjoy, or is better suited to your strengths and weaknesses.
Making “Like” and “Dislike” lists may bring new awareness to your personality traits and values. It may lead you to discover that you’re in the wrong field altogether, or that you’re in a period of life where family time is more important than your career.
Once you have clarity, don’t be afraid to seek out new opportunities. Start making moves to change companies, roles or industries, or to reduce your hours, or to go back to school.
8. Master Your Mind
No matter the circumstances, you’re always in control of the actions you take and the thoughts you think.
Now, you may not want to take job-quitting action right away, but that still leaves you in control over what you focus on.
You can choose to see the bigger picture and view your job as a stepping stone to greater things, or you can choose to wallow in self-pity.
If you control your thoughts, you control your emotions, which can make all the difference between having a good or a bad day.
9. Stop Hanging Out With Negative Colleagues
If you’re in with a posse of bitches that do nothing but complain about their job or boss, then it’s time to ditch your work mates.
And if you’re the one instigating the what-a-dick-the-boss-is chat, STOP!
Getting it out there may feel good in the moment, but nothing good comes from gossiping, complaining, or blaming. Plus, no one really cares.
If you can’t steer the conversation to anything other than how crummy a place to work this is, you’re better off spending your breaks alone.
10. Get It Off Your Chest
Then again, a good ol’ rant is sometimes what’s required to get it off your chest and move on – especially if you’re stuck in a negative thought loop.
BUT… be careful who you vent to. Although coworkers may have firsthand experience of the situation, expressing personal thoughts and opinions is not exactly professional, and your colleagues may not share your views.
Your spouse or a close friend might be the better choice to lend a sympathetic ear, or to offer the support you need to make a change.
11. Do Your Very Best Work
I understand you may be scraping the bottom of the motivation barrel as it is, but there are several benefits if you can dig deep and find the willpower to push yourself:
1) the time will pass quicker, 2) you might just end up engaged in the task and enjoying it, and 3) working hard will ensure a good reference.
On the flip side, contributing less than your capable of will lead to feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing, and your confidence in finding a better career may even slide.
12. Keep Training And Learning
Feeling like we’re growing and getting better every day is essential for feeling content.
If there’s a course or on-the-job training being offered, put yourself forward – even if you don’t see how the training will benefit you if you plan on leaving.
Learning new things stimulates the mind and will shake you out of a rut. And you never know, upskilling may even bring back some of the joy you had when your job was new and exciting.
13. Have Fun Outside Work
We spend so much time at our jobs that it can feel all-consuming. BUT… work isn’t everything.
Even if you highly value your career, it’s healthy to have interests that lie outside the 9-5.
So, take the time to reconnect with your hobbies and passions.
Playing sports or exercising work best if you’re feeling down, as you’ll get the double whammy from having fun and the release of feel-good endorphins.
Or, if you’d rather just have a good chin-wag with an old friend or binge-watch Netflix, that’s cool too.
As long as you’re doing something you enjoy that allows you to mentally vacate the office.
14. Chat With Your Boss (If You Get Along)
Now, your boss might be one of the reasons you want the hell out of your job. If that’s the case, then feel free to skip this tip.
But if your boss is approachable, an honest conversation about how you’re feeling could lead to fewer hours, fairer compensation, better systems, or other improvements that make your working day more enjoyable.
There’s no shame in admitting that you’ve lost some of your spark, and your manager may even have some pointers to put you back on track – they’ve likely been doing the job a long time and battled with their own engagement peaks and troughs.
I had a good relationship with my last boss and confided in him that I was planning to retire early. To my surprise, he had his own five-year plan.
15. Suggest Improvements
You may feel like your walking a tight rope at work, and the mere hint of a suggestion of how the workplace could be improved will push you into unemployment.
But, your suggestions might be a pleasant surprise to management. The fact that you (and probably other employees) are miserable may be a complete shock to your superiors, who have lost touch with the “boots on the ground”.
If you offer your proposals in a helpful manner and clearly explain how the company and staff will benefit, then no level-headed manager is going to see you as a trouble-maker or nuisance.
And if you’re ideas aren’t welcome, well hey, at least you said your piece, and you can leave knowing you at least tried to make it work.
16. Have A Solid Morning Routine
Morning routines have become a bit of a fad lately. Everyone from Tony Robbins to Kim Kardashian has promoted the merits of a solid morning routine.
But this is one trend worth jumping on.
Reading your goals, gratitude exercises and using affirmations will prime your mind into a positive state that stays with you throughout the day.
And although repeating “today is going to be a great day where I’m going to learn, grow, make money, and have fun while doing it” in the shower is borderline psychotic, it actually works.
Of course, not all of your morning ritual has to be weird, and you could also stretch, work out, read, write or work on a passion project – include anything that is important to you that you never have time to do.
17. Get Away From The Desk
Spending all day in your inbox or chasing an error in a spreadsheet only leads to quick burnout.
It can also steer you into a funk as you dwell on how your means of earning a living is actually pretty pointless. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Taking regular breaks and “zooming out” will stop you from fizzling out.
When you do take a break, don’t gorge on junk food. Instead, go for a walk, phone a friend, or listen to uplifting music or an audiobook. You’ll feel much more refreshed when you return to your desk – again, I’m speaking from experience.
18. Be Grateful You Have A Job (Yes, Really)
When all else fails, remind yourself that you’re actually fortunate to have a job.
There are plenty of people that are struggling to make ends meet and would happily tear off their left arm to be in your position.
You might not be doing something you love, but at least you’ve got a means of putting food on the table and keeping a roof over your head.
Count your blessings; it could be a whole lot worse.
Wrapping It Up
Being stuck in a job you despise can feel like the worst fate in the world.
Hopefully, this post has given you a little perspective as well as a tip or two that will help you make a positive and lasting change in your life.
As bad as things are, they aren’t going to be this way forever. Everything in life is a phase.
“Change is the only constant in life” – Heraclitus, Greek philosopher
So, as you do everything within your power to move on, try to enjoy the journey as best you can.
There is a silver lining in everything, even a job you wish you were anywhere but.
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Hi! I'm Jamie
I’m a 30-something money blogger that writes about saving, frugal living, investing and entrepreneurship.
I achieved financial independence at 30 through hard work, saving and learning to invest.
On this blog, I share everything I've learned about money to help you build a life you love, free from money worries.
If you'd like to achieve financial freedom, escape the 9 til 5 and spend your days however you want, then I know you'd love our weekly newsletter.
When I first got interested in personal finance, I stumbled across a blog called Early Retirement Extreme (ERE). The blogger behind the site, Jacob Lund
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