How to Save Yourself from Your Job

There’s a trick to the graceful exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over – and to let go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its value. — Ellen Goodman


In the last six months, I’ve had five different friends in vastly different careers tackle the issue of dissatisfaction with their jobs and how to save themselves from situations that had them dreading going to work, feeling burnt out, and losing hope that they’d ever enjoy getting up in the morning again.

Although one of those friends boldly resigned from his managerial position without having a clear next plan, it’s important to keep in mind that “saving yourself” doesn’t have to mean quitting, at least not right away. You can preserve your sanity and your bankroll in other ways, and some of these ways might even lead to a new job or career later.

Here are a few suggestions about how to escape from your less-than-dreamy job:

1. Do you have a hobby you used to love, and can you start doing that hobby again on the side, perhaps during your commute, during lunch hour, or in the evening?

Just spending time on something that’s important and fun to you might be enough to bring life into your regular job. Chances are if you’re unhappy with your current job, it’s because it’s draining your energy in your off hours, too. Fight through the fatigue and find the energy to do something meaningful to you; you might end up with a whole new outlook.

2. Alternatively (or simultaneously) can you use a hobby to pave the way to leaving your full-time job by creating an alternative income source?

Baby steps count, and are there any you can take? Merely moving in a direction that feels better can give you hope, and hope will help you cope.

3. Are there other ways to secure your financial future?

A friend is retiring from the military and is eligible for a pension. Obviously his escape plan started years ago, but is there a way you can manage your finances to prepare one now? Even if you can’t quit next week, if you start planning now, maybe you can quit in a year or two or five.

Do you foresee layoffs in your company? A golden parachute might be exactly what you need right now.

Once again, just taking the steps toward freedom might help you cope better.

Your Money or Your Life is a helpful book that might help you view your financial situation in a new way, a way that allows you to have more flexibility with what you feel like you can do with the financial resources you have.

4. Can you take the skills you’ve developed in your current job and use them in a different way for a different position or company or industry?

I have a good friend who teaches English. Her skills could be used to develop training programs for companies, to provide tutoring for business people coming to the US, or to train public speakers.

Lawyers who want to escape their jobs can transition to foundations, teaching, or consulting services. Consulting services can cover a wide range of industries and talents: It’s certainly  not just an option for lawyers. Who needs the skills you’ve developed and how can you make a new career from that need?

Here’s a good article to get you started in morphing what you currently do into something else:

5. Can you learn a new skill to help make yourself more marketable to a new employer?

Technology changes with lightening speed, and you can use this to your benefit: How can you combine your experience and skills with cutting-edge technology to make yourself a very employable job candidate? Is there a class you can take (perhaps even having your current employer pay for it) that will help open up your options? Beyond technology, what other skills might help you? Marketing? Sales training? As long as you find a product you enjoy and believe in, sales could be a excellent option.

It may take some work and some planning, but there are always ways to get unstuck from a situation that makes you miserable.

The first step, though, is realizing that you have choices, and then figuring out what to do with those choices. If you decide to stay at your current job – contrary to popular thinking, we can’t all follow our bliss, for whatever reason – you might find this article helpful:

Are you in a job you hate? What are you doing to cope and/or change your situation?

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