Professional Development

What to do when you hate your job but can’t quit

Written by Eric Titner

Here’s a tricky situation that may sound familiar—you have a job that you’re not exactly in love with (okay, you hate it), but for one reason or another you can’t quit. The reasons for feeling as if you’re stuck there can vary wildly—perhaps it’s tied to money, or you feel as if this position is an important step on your career ladder, or maybe you just love the snacks in the break room too much.

Whatever your reasoning is for feeling as if you can’t leave a job you despise, the effects of this situation can be significant. According to an article published by Forbes, on top of the increased levels of unhappiness you’ll experience from going to work every day, hating your job can lead to unwanted weight gain; a compromised immunity and greater risk of physical and mental illness; higher levels of stress, fatigue, and irritability; and lost sleep—not a good recipe for professional fulfillment and success!

If you’re feeling as if you’re stuck working at in a job you hate, don’t despair! There are some strategies you can take advantage of to make your situation a little more tolerable. Psychology Today recently published an article on things you can do if you find yourself in this tight spot. Consider the following tips to make your current work life more bearable.

See the light at the end of the tunnel.

Ever hear the phrase “nothing lasts forever”? This holds true for jobs too. Although you may feel stuck in a difficult job now, try to imagine a work scenario beyond your current one in which you’re happy, fulfilled, and truly satisfied professionally. You can even start some initial planning to bring you closer to this future, like updating your resume and visiting job sites to see what’s available in your industry. Sometimes, a few mental leaps like these can really help take the edge off of a tough work reality.

Learn what you can.

Never stop obtaining new info and skills. Even in awful jobs there may be the possibility of building your knowledge, experience, and skillset—which will help set you up nicely for future job opportunities. Although you don’t love your current job, make sure you take what you can from it and set yourself up to become better equipped professionally on the other side of this unhappy experience.

Grow your network.

Even in the worst jobs there are often colleagues that you get along well with and opportunities to meet others in your field. Take full advantage of this possibility when you can and build your professional network—which can help make your current job a little better while also setting you up for a much easier job hunt in the future, when the time comes.

Focus on the positives.

Sure, if there are things about your job that you really don’t like then chances are it will have a negative effect on you for as long as you’re there. But if you have to be there longer than you’d like, then try focusing a bit more on the positives, no matter how small. Maybe you really like some of your coworkers, or your desk is near a window with a nice view, or your commute is easy, or you get to leave right at 5 p.m. every day—whatever the case may be, do your bets to come up with a list of things that you actually do like about your current work situation and try focusing on those.

You’re certainly not alone if you don’t love going to work every day. They key is never to wallow and not to let your current situation derail your entire life. Use the tips and strategies presented here to make the best of a bad gig, and focus on a happier job future that’s certainly to come down the line.


About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.