When You’re Not Happy With Your Job, But You Can’t Afford To Quit


“I don’t like my job anymore,” says a friend to me. “But I can’t quit because I’m supporting my family.”

“Have you tried finding another job?” I asked.

“I am trying to look for one,” he replied. “But those I found don’t pay as much as my salary now.”

“So just keep looking,” I advised.

“Yes, that’s the plan. But every day’s really a struggle. What can I do?”

Instantly, I remembered a time when I had a job that I didn’t like, and I had to drag myself out of bed each morning back then, just to go to work.

I wanted to quit so bad but I can’t afford it, for I was deep in credit card debts, paying for several loans, and helping my parents put my two brothers through college.

How did I ever survive those years? From what I recall, here are the five things that helped me cope and allowed me to change my situation.


1. Be grateful that you have a job

The easiest way to change your mood is to remember that many are unemployed, and fortunately, you are not one of them.

Think about other people who are in worse situations than you, especially those who are earning less but working harder than you. Think about them and it won’t take long before you start feeling better.

It may seem cruel, but scientific studies on the Social Comparison Theory show that comparing yourself against those who are doing worse can help boost your self-esteem.

So before quitting your job, remember that some people don’t even have jobs.


2. Don’t let your feelings affect your work

This is hard to do but it is possible, if you have the right mindset.

The key is to remember that you don’t need to be a great employee, just don’t be a bad one. This means, you need to always come and leave work on time, and do your job properly in between those hours.

Be a good employee that produces expected results. Then use your free time and extra energy for planning how you can find a better job.

By the way, the assumption here is that you really want to leave your current job, and you just can’t afford it. If you’re not wholeheartedly decided on quitting, then you should try to resolve your work issues first.

3. Start planning your exit

Stop complaining. Doing this will not solve anything. Instead, start planning by first asking yourself, “What exactly do I want?”

Do you just want a better job? Do you want to shift to another field? Do you want to become a freelancer? Or do you want to start your own business instead?

You can’t move forward unless you know where you want to go.

Once you’ve decided, the next steps will become more obvious, and it will be easier to concretely plan for it. Write down your goal, and break them into several phases, and must-do tasks. Devote your time and energy towards accomplishing these.

4. Think of your present as your “Funding Phase”

My goal back then was to quit my job, and shift to another field. Particularly, I wanted to leave Engineering, and transfer to the I.T. industry.

Interestingly, my problem was not finding a new I.T. job, but getting one that will pay me as much as what I was currently receiving. But since I was changing industries, that was close to impossible from happening.

So I knew I will eventually have to accept a job offer that pays less. But before I do that, I decided to accomplish several things first:

  • Get out of debt
  • Minimize my expenses, to maximize my savings
  • Create an emergency fund
  • Learn I.T. skills to improve my starting salary.

At this point, nothing has really changed in my life except my mindset – but that’s already a big change!

I stopped complaining about my job, and I started feeling excited every morning because in my mind – each day at work earns me income that takes me closer to my goal.


Each payday, I am progressing towards getting out of debt, and creating my emergency fund. Meanwhile, I was able to minimize my expenses because instead of going out on weekends, I spent it at home reading I.T. books.

Lastly, I always reminded myself that I’m on my Funding Phase and I’m just creating the necessary cash for me to move forward, so there’s no need for me to feel bad about my situation.


5. Write your letter of resignation with a future date

Set a deadline on when you will quit your current job, then write your resignation letter, and put the date on it.

Print out the letter, have it framed, and hang it inside your bedroom.

Every morning, look at the letter, then imagine yourself taking it out of the frame, and handing it out to your boss when you arrive in the office.

This is a simple, yet powerful exercise that will help you stay motivated, and dedicated towards achieving your goals.

Do remember to take everything into account – your cashflow, skills, resources, financial responsibilities, and spending habits – and set a realistic deadline.

Don’t just put a random future date!

Be Smart about your goals, and you’ll most likely achieve it.

When you’re not happy with your job anymore, but you can’t afford to quit – don’t wallow in self-pity and escape reality by watching television.

Instead, face your fears, take the challenge, and have the courage to change your life.



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