Independently Happy

I take happiness seriously. So you don't have to.

Best Way Out if You Hate Your Job and Can’t Afford to Quit

Feeling stuck in a job you hate can be depressing. It drains your energy, purpose, and happiness. Everyone says, “just quit.” That’s easy to say, but what if you can’t afford to quit? What if your family likes eating and living with a roof over their heads? Being stuck in that situation can feel hopeless, like there is no way out, but it is really just a matter of two variables. You already want to leave bad enough, you just need a plan, some work and a little hope.

hate my job can't afford to quit

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“I can’t afford to quit” really means two things.

  1. My income is too low
  2. My expenses are too high.

If you had unlimited income, you wouldn’t need the job.

If you had no expenses, you wouldn’t need the job.

I know it sounds difficult. Impossible. I’ve been there. I’ve felt the claustrophobic squeeze of anger, helplessness, hopelessness and purposelessness of a job I didn’t like. I remember looking for, and not being able to see, the light at the end of the tunnel.

One day it finally hit me: If there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, unless you’re digging, you’re going the wrong way.

In a rush? Skip to the summary at the bottom.

The first thing we need to do before getting into the tips is to

Focus How You Can Instead of Why You Can’t

I used to try to help people who weren’t looking for help. They complained every day about hating their jobs. I knew all their reasons to hate their jobs. I heard them frequently.

Seek and Ye Shall Find…

Reasons Why You Can’t Afford to Quit

Every suggestion I made for a way out, or at least something to try to break out of the rut, was met with reasons why they couldn’t do it. No matter how simple my suggestion, how small the step was, it was met with a “Well I can’t do that because…”

That was my fault. I was giving unwanted advice to people who didn’t really want to leave their positions. They just wanted to vent. If you’ve sought out this article though, then you’re ready for help.

Focus How You Can Instead of Why You Can’t. Click To Tweet

If you decide to look for reasons why you can’t afford to quit, you will absolutely find them.

Believe me, on this, it is a decision. You can just as easily decide to look for how you can quit. Stop focusing on why you can’t. I know the barriers are real– at least they feel real–because I’ve been trapped behind them.
Just Because the Barriers Aren't Real Doesn't Mean They Can't Be Torn Down Click To Tweet

Just because the barriers are real doesn’t mean they can’t be torn down. The ways to break through barriers are just as real.

How You Can Leave

Like Tony Robbins said, “having a powerful enough why will provide you with the necessary how.”

Why is that different with jobs?

You’ve got a pretty powerful why you hate your job. Start looking for the How to leave it.

Focus on a Pursuit Instead of an Escape

hate my job can't afford to quit

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Focus on something that you want to pursue instead of something you want to escape.

You’re focusing on how the trap holds you, not the myriads of opportunities available to pursue something that gives you purpose.

I knew personally the colleagues I tried to help, so my suggestions for them were specific to what I knew they enjoyed and were good at. What I offer here in the written word has to be more generic. That doesn’t matter, though. Neither the ideas’ specificity nor the ideas themselves matter. What matters most is whether you decide to focus on how can or why you can’t.

Focusing on a pursuit will put you in more of an abundance mindset as well.

That feeling of being trapped in your job also has you also trapped in a scarcity mindset. A pursuit will will open up possibilities. Realizing abundance makes you happier.

Focus on a pursuit instead of an escape. Click To Tweet

Realize the Worst Will Probably Never Happen

Your family is probably not going to end up homeless and starving if you lose your job. You might lose your house and cars. You might have to downsize significantly or move in with your gloating brother-in-law. You might have to swallow a little pride and be a lot uncomfortable.

You won’t starve, though, and I’d be willing to bet that gloating brother-in-law would secretly be jealous of your freedom. You won’t be forced to roam the streets with a scarlet letter B on your chest.

B is for Bankrupt

A limited study suggests that those who are chronically homeless are so because of detachment from social networks. More on that on Quora. So you might want to start spending some quality time with some loved ones. That quality time with friends and loved ones will itself contribute to the happiness that currently seems so out of reach.

And what’s the difference between the misery of having to live with a relative or friend for a little while so you can restart and the misery of the daily grind in the soul-stealing job you hate?

Pride is the difference. Pride may be what keeps you in misery and delays your and your family’s hope for having a better life.

Don’t be Miserable and Proud.

Don’t be Proud and Miserable. Click To Tweet

Realize the Best Will Probably Never Happen

What Are You Waiting For?

  • Do you have a rich relative who can help you?
  • Are you waiting for that inheritance?
  • Are you waiting for the next politician to get elected and swing things in your favor?
  • Are you waiting for your company to change things back to the way they used to be?
Just like all the horrible things you fear will happen if you leave your job probably won’t happen, those best things (those things that will make staying easy or leaving easier) won’t happen.

Stop waiting for whatever it is you think might happen.

Get control.

Take charge.


My Expenses Are Too High

My wife and I took a look at our expenses.

Of all those things you have to pay for:

  • How many do you really need or even want?
  • How many of those things that you want do you want more than having a job you love?
  • How many of those things that you think you need do you need more than good health and quality time with loved ones?

Think hard about this.

  • Would not having several of those things make you more miserable than your job does?
  • Would being happy in and enjoying your job be better than some of the stuff you’re paying for now?
  • Would taking a step back in income and perhaps prestige be temporary?
  • If you poured as much time and energy into something you love–into something you believe in–isn’t it possible or even likely you would eventually rise up to a position far ahead of where you are now? In addition to being happy.

Why do we always assume that a change would be worse? Would a smaller house in a less influential neighborhood and a car that isn’t better than your friends’ and neighbors’ cars make you less happy than you are in your current job?

I am by no means suggesting you pull your kids out of their schools and move them away from their friends into a smaller place just to escape your current position.

Let’s Go On a Permanent Camping Trip

hate my job can't afford to quit

Peaceful image by markusspiske at

I’m only suggesting you think about these things. Think about what you really want.

Can you imagine having to live in structure with no heating or cooling, with no electricity or even a kitchen?

It sounds a little like poverty.

But it also sounds like camping!

Look for some places where you can cut back on spending.

It may not be as uncomfortable as you think. You may not suffer so much.

It might even be a bit of an adventure.

Nothing (Not Even Camping) is Permanent, Except Change

And why do we think it would be permanent? Life is impermanence. The discomfort of down-sizing will not be permanent. It might be fun, and working in a situation where you enjoy investing the time and energy might eventually return better than what you have now.

The other problem is that you don’t have enough income.

Finding a few expenses to cut is just like getting a raise. If it’s still not enough, then start paying down debts. If you can’t sell the car, then start paying it off. It’s not instant freedom, but at least you’re making progress. At least you have a goal a plan and progress.

At least you’re taking back control.

SHOULD I add A Goal, A Plan and Progress in here?

My Income is Too Low

hate my job can't afford to quit

Another reason you feel like you can’t quit the job you hate is that you can’t make as much in a new job as you do in your current job.

That is why it’s not a good idea to rely on one source of income. Get income from multiple sources. Diversify your income just as you would your investments.

Just like you can’t quit your job because it’s your only source of income, if you lost it by any other means you would also lose your only source of income.

Start a side hustle or business. Drive for Uber or Lyft. Get a part-time job. You have to have some skill somebody out there needs. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have a job.

If a reason you hate your job is that overtime already consumes your life, this part may be difficult. In that case, look to the expenses side.

You’ve got to break out of that rut, though. You’ve got to do something. What you keep telling yourself if correct: That’s no way to live.

Don’t Wait to Be Rescued

Be the rescuer.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)

Focus on How you Can instead of Why You Can’t

Realize the Best will probably never happen.

Realize the Worst will probably never happen.

Don’t be Miserable and Proud.

Lower your expenses

Increase your income

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