How to Leave a Job You Hate for a Better Future
Too many people feel trapped in a job they hate, but end up staying there for years. Getting out of a job you don’t like is much easier said than done. How do you find time to search for a new job when the one you have is already demanding everything you can mentally, physically, and emotionally give?
For one year and eight months, I worked in corporate event planning, where the organization’s culture felt like a continuous whirlwind of people frenetically racing one another to an unreachable finish line. The work itself had many benefits. I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people, eat delicious meals, travel to beautiful places, stay in gorgeous hotels, and learn an incredible amount - both personally and professionally. But the heavy workload and hectic pace were wearing me down.
I remember being at events and noticing the energy of the people in roles above me. The light was dimmed in their faces. They were tired and burned out. But they kept pushing and pushing, event after event, year after year. One colleague described her daily routine as working all day, going home, making dinner for her husband, and firing up the laptop for “the second shift.” She laughed as she described the repetitive activities of the past years of her life, but I remember feeling so sad for her. There are too many people who feel trapped in a job they hate but stay there for years.
During one particular event in Houston, Texas I began working at 6 am to open Registration, and didn’t stop working until midnight that evening. I have a screenshot of a text message still saved on my phone as a reminder to strive for a more balanced, healthy life. It was 10:26 pm on June 5, 2018, and the client for this event texted: “I sent you some emails tonight. Most importantly we need to send a reminder Download the App email 1st thing early tomorrow. Can you please work on this to go out by 7 am?”
By that point, I had been working 16 and a half hours already that day. I ate meals in front of my laptop, my brain felt like a robotic system that was unable to shut down, my body was tight with stress, my acne was awful, and my sleep was terrible. What bothered me most was - her late-night request wasn’t necessary for the success of the event. She could have asked me to do that the following morning when we were scheduled to see one another, and it would have been absolutely fine. I realized at that time that this was not what life was supposed to be about. I knew at my core that my continuous state of stress was shedding years off my life. I knew there had to be another way, and I had to get out.
Getting out of a job you don’t like is much easier said than done. I could not quit until I had a new job secured. And that is the tricky part. How do you find time to search for a new job when the one you have is already demanding everything you can mentally, physically, and emotionally give?
Step one is to accept the situation you’re in. As stated by Jenni Young,
“Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy it and receive it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way.”
In other words, if you’re in a job you hate and you know the process of trying to get a new, better career is going to be hard, accept that you’re in a difficult life stage. Remember this difficult time is temporary, and it’s worth working towards a happier, healthier, more balanced future.
Step two is to develop your plan for carving out the time to explore places where you like to work, set up informational interviews, and apply to jobs that excite you. Small steps, over time, can make a big difference. Depending on your personal and professional situation, some people will have less time than others. But you have to make the commitment one way or another. Whether it’s waking up earlier to do it before work one to two days a week, blocking out a few hours each Sunday, or trying to fit in 30 minutes of job searching two to three evenings a week after your children are in bed - you deserve to make the commitment to yourself.
Step three is to spend time reflecting on what is most important to you. If you’re making a professional transition for a better future, there may be some things you have to sacrifice. For example, I knew I valued happiness and health over money. I prioritized a job that felt aligned with my passion and future goals over a prestigious job title. To pivot out of the corporate world, I ended up taking a job where my salary was initially $11,000 less. My family disapproved of the decision and it was not financially easy, but I made it through. And because I accepted a role in Higher Education that was more aligned with my values, strengths, goals, and overall purpose - I naturally excelled, was eventually promoted, and ended up making more than I had in corporate event planning.
Taking the time to search for a new job is not easy, but it’s worth it. Trusting your intuition and believing in a better future takes courage. You have to continue to make the effort when you’re tired and congratulate yourself on small achievements along the way. A better life is out there. But if you don’t believe in it, and you don't go for it, it’s not going to happen.
In Ivy Ejam’s book “Minding Her Business: A Woman's Guide & Journal for Living” she states
"I would rather believe in achieving greatness and be wrong, than doubt the possibility and be right."
Give yourself a chance. Believe in yourself, your future, and your potential. You deserve it.