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5 Reasons Why You’re Still at the Job You Hate and How to Get Out

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Do you hate your job? You’re not alone. Even in a good economy, a high percentage of Americans don’t truly enjoy what they do to make a living. Long hours, brutal commutes, abhorrent bosses, nosy coworkers…it’s all enough to make you absolutely hate going to work in the morning.

But how do you deal with a job you hate, at least until you find a better job opportunity? And how can you even find that perfect job you’ve longed for? To answer these questions, let’s look at why some people stick with jobs they hate and how you can transition to a better state of employment.

Reasons Why You Stay at a Job You Hate

Everyone has a reason for staying in a job they hate. Some are legitimate, like you have no other way to make ends meet. But a lot of the time, the reasons simply justify staying in a comfortable and safe situation, even if it’s one that makes you truly miserable. Here are a few of the most common reasons why people stay at jobs they hate:

  1. The fear of change. Change can be scary. New people, new ways of doing things, and insecurities about your abilities may lead you to stay at a job you don’t like because it is familiar. While not a good reason, it’s probably the most common one.
  2. You need a steady income. The financial needs of you or your family may force you to stay at a job you don’t enjoy. If you don’t have any savings to back you up or live paycheck to paycheck, it can be hard (and may not be wise) to walk away from a solid job that isn’t your dream. But you can still transition to a new and better job by following the suggestions in the next section below.
  3. Lack of updated skills. If you graduated college 20 years ago, your skill set may not be current. New jargon, new technologies, and new ways of getting work done can be unnerving. These frustrations might keep you from seeking a new job or going back to school for an advanced position that challenges you.
  4. The money is too good. This can be a biggie. The money may be great, but what are you trading for it and missing out on in order to keep it coming in?
  5. You like your coworkers. Friends at work can be friends outside of work too, but many of us don’t feel comfortable making that transition. Enjoying your coworkers can keep you at a job that isn’t the right fit for you.

The list of excuses to stay in a dissatisfying job goes on and on. Most people have a million ways to say no to trying something different, but only a few ways to say yes to trying something new!

I stayed at a job I hated for years. One day, I finally hit a mental wall at work, talked to my peers about it, and got the courage to leave my job and do what I really wanted. It was an eye-opening experience for me. What can you do to make the change to a career you truly want in life?

How to Change Your Job Situation

great business meeting three coworkers discussing

You need to take some risks in life to make things happen for yourself. They don’t have to be huge, dangerous ones that break up your happy home, but a little effort and informed risk can go a long way to making you happier, healthier, and more productive. Follow these eight steps to make your dream job a reality.

  1. Get your references set up as soon as possible. From letters of recommendation to contacts and names, compile a list of references you can depend on when interviewing for a new job. Don’t get caught unprepared when an opportunity arises. However, keep in mind that it may not be best to ask your current boss for a letter of reference just yet.
  2. Set both short and long term goals. Without goals, you can’t expect to get very far in a job search. Short-term goals can include getting your resume perfect, researching companies you may want to work for, and contacting former coworkers about where they work for possible references. Long-term goals can include mapping out upcoming networking conferences or researching and attending education options in your field.
  3. Simplify your life. Reduce monthly expenses and obligations so you can consider opportunities in other fields or tracks that may pay a lower salary. Small sacrifices for a short period of time can eventually make a big difference to your quality of life.
  4. Use your downtime wisely. Whether at home or at work, use downtime to your advantage. My last “corporate” job left me with a lot of free time, which allowed me to start my first blog. This, in turn, allowed me to quit my job and become a freelance writer full-time. Downtime can be a time to relax, but it also might be the only time you have to set up your future plans. Use it wisely.
  5. Take advantage of company paid events. Take advantage of paid opportunities like workshops and networking events while you’re still at the job you hate. Might as well get something out of being there, right? You might meet someone with a job you’d like to have or pick up valuable skills to assist with your career transition.
  6. Continue your interests outside of work. Nothing spells depression like focusing exclusively on what you hate. Once work is over for the day, do something you enjoy. Set aside time during the week for hobbies or join a group that meets regularly to do something you love. It could be cooking, hiking, stamp collecting – whatever you want!
  7. Don’t take frustration home with you. Do talk to your family and friends about your situation, but know when to stop complaining and redirect that energy towards doing something about it instead. Keep it positive and moving forward in your conversations; share your goals with your friends if it gives you extra incentive to reach them.
  8. Realize in this economy, you are lucky to have a job. In the current economy, there are millions who are unemployed and out of work. If you are working, remember how fortunate you are to still have a paycheck. Be on the lookout for something better, but do your best to be grateful for what you already have.

Final Word

Doing what makes you happy rather than chasing after money leads to a satisfied life. By putting yourself first, you’re able to take better care of your life and be an inspiration to those around you.

For example, your kids may at first balk at canceling cable television. But if little sacrifices like that mean you get your dream job, imagine what they’ll learn from your example and how they might choose to live their own lives. If you’re satisfied with complaining about your job, you’re less likely to do something about it. So stop complaining and start changing. Follow the steps above to put your dream job within your reach.

Are you currently at a job that you hate? What are you doing to change your situation?

David Quilty
David Quilty is a freelance writer living outside Santa Fe, NM. After burning out working in the entertainment field in Los Angeles for many years, David decided to strike out on his own and follow his passions for writing, web design, politics, and green living on a dirt road in rural New Mexico.

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