You worked your head off to get great grades in college. You graduated with honors. You invested thousands of dollars in your education because everyone said it would be worth it in the end. And finally, you landed your dream job.
Just one problem. You hate said dream job and you want to get out.
But you feel like you can’t because you have invested time, money, and sweat to get to this point and quitting feels like you are throwing everything in the trash.
You still have financial responsibilities (enter student loans).
As a person (we value consistency in ourselves and others), you might be afraid that people will call you “lazy” if you up and quit your job.
And to top it off, you know that at next Thanksgiving dinner, a family member is going to say: “You’re lucky to have a job. There are a lot of jobless folks who would happily trade places with you.”
Quitting a job you hate is difficult no matter how you slice it.
Why You Shouldn't Be Afraid to Quit a Job You Hate
1. Your Mental Health Is Important
Believe it or not, your mental health is more important than your paycheck.
In preparing this post, a young lady shared her experience of driving to work, parking in the parking lot, and then crying her eyes out for an hour. She had spent years on her undergrad and grad school education and had a job many would envy. But she had never loved it and now she was having a nervous breakdown in the parking lot.
If you hate your job to the point where you literally cannot stand being there for even one second of the day, it is time to quit.
2. Your Physical Health Is Important
Your physical health is very much connected to your mental health.
When your mental health begins to affect your physical health, you can develop what is known as a psychosomatic disorder.
Psoriasis, eczema, high blood pressure, and stomach ulcers are all thought to be conditions that are made worse when there is stress in a person’s life.
I would argue that staying physically healthy is better than running yourself into the health issues just because you are choosing to remain at a job you hate.
3. If You Truly Hate Your Job, It Will Affect Your Productivity
A lot of us try to hide the fact that we hate our jobs by trying harder. Perhaps you’re even putting in extra hours just to prove to yourself that you don’t hate the job.
The charade may work for a while but none of us can act forever. Eventually, your disdain for the job will show up in projects that are not completed properly or that are turned in late . . . or poorly delivered presentations.
A decrease in your productivity does not serve you nor your employer.
4. Your Relationships Can Suffer If You Don't Quit
Stress will affect your relationships with spouses, children, family, and friends. You cannot buy good relationships with money.
A job should not cost you all of that.
5. The Longer You Stay at a Job You Hate, the More You Are Robbing Yourself of Time
Time is a limited commodity.
Each of us gets 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and 365 days in a year.
The longer you stay at a job you hate, the more time you are wasting when you could have been discovering what it is you really want to do in life.
So What Should You Do?
Admit That You Are Not the Same Person You Were When You Started on This Path
Change is difficult for everyone. So, I reckon that admitting to yourself that your job no longer excites you is difficult. However, this is always the first step on the journey to becoming free and pursuing the life you want to go after.
Take a Personality Test
If it has been years since you took a personality test, it might be time to take one.
Our personalities generally dictate our strengths and weaknesses and can suggest careers that are not a great fit and others that will be.
You might not want to answer a bunch of questions to figure out what your strengths are. In that case, you can self-assess.
Take an inventory of skills you have and activities you do that excite you. Are you happy when you’re talking people through a problem? Do you enjoy working with children? Does writing come to you easily? What are the things you would do if nobody ever paid you?
Self-assessment and taking personality tests put you on the path to discovering or rediscovering your passions so you can begin to pursue those.
Do Informational Interviews
Now that you have self-assessed, what careers have come up for you? This is the point where you begin to look at your network and find people who are already in those professions.
You can set up informational interviews with these people to find out more about what a day looks like in their job. You could even shadow them a few hours per week to see if that is something you would like to do for the next few years.
Come Up with an Exit Strategy (that Includes a Financial Strategy)
It is time to leave.
It would not be prudent to jump ship without any financial security. The bills still need to be paid.
So perhaps you can start a side hustle and intern for a lower salary at a job you want to try out? Or perhaps you can downgrade to part-time at your current job while you build up a new source of income as an entrepreneur? Will you need to go from living in an apartment by yourself to having a roommate in the interim?
There is no right or wrong answer here. This part of the process is entirely up to you.
My only advice is that you have a plan to survive financially once you leave the job you hate.
You shouldn’t be afraid to quit a job you hate. It is not good for your physical and mental health. And honestly, life is too short to live it stuck in a job you care nothing for.
Your thoughts are welcome in the comments.
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.