How To Take Charge Of Your Life When You Hate Your Job

Does quitting your job make your work problems go away?

stressed man working at laptop Marjan Apostolovic / Shutterstock

If you hate your job right now and are tempted to resign immediately, you’re not alone.

A new LinkedIn survey shows that more than half of U.S. workers want to quit their jobs.

You could be yearning for a promotion, better work-life balance, or more satisfying work. And perhaps you’re at the point of dreading getting up every morning and agonizing over the thought of even one more Zoom meeting or wondering if the next unpleasant interaction with your boss will cause you to snap. You might even be heading toward complete exhaustion.


The idea of burning it all down can be tempting, and trying something new somewhere else might seem very blissful.

The trouble is, leaving hastily might lead to further disappointment and create unnecessary upheaval in your life. You can change your context and the players, but it might not make you any happier. As Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) outlines in his book, Wherever You Go, There You Are. You can run from a miserable workplace, but you cannot run from yourself.

Sometimes, what needs to change is you.

So, before you quit, do the inner work. Step back from the hustle and bustle of your daily life and give yourself some space to reflect, assess and clear the obstacles so you gain a genuine understanding of yourself and your goals. Once you’ve done that you can be free to either embrace the job you have or modify your current situation. 


RELATED: 11 Smart Ways To 'Layoff-Proof' Your Career

RELATED: Ways Your Job Could ‘Betray’ You & How You Can Prepare Yourself For Success

Here are five things to try before you quit a job you hate

1. Lean into your strengths

Many of my clients come to career coaching wanting to change careers, but in the end, some of them end up falling back in love with their current work. This is in part because they reconnect with their gifts — knowledge, skills, abilities, and "secret sauce." 


They realize that if they can leverage those strengths more and wake up with the intention of bringing those talents each day, they will feel more confident and motivated in their work. You can find more fulfillment and purpose by exploring these things, too, and that will further fuel your work happiness.

RELATED: 15 People Share What *Really* Happened When They Left Their Job To Chase Their Dreams

2. Identify your patterns and avoid repeating them in the future

Take an objective look at your employment history. Job hopping can signal many things, like lack of fit or unstable or toxic environments. It can also indicate hasty decision-making and repetitive unmet expectations. Before you leave, identify what you’ve learned and what you would do differently next time, including what you need to know before accepting your next job.

If difficult working relationships have plagued your career or are at the root of your current distress, think about whether you’ve had a string of difficult bosses or colleagues. Wonder if there are ways in which you have contributed to any conflict or let different personalities overshadow the good work you’ve done.


Finally, consider whether you’ve experienced cycles of stress or self-sabotaging behaviors. While it might seem like a paradox in your field, it is possible to have a thriving career without burning out and sacrificing your physical and mental health — and your job satisfaction. Is your employer expecting you to work 60 hours a week, forcing you to pull off the impossible? Or would learning new skills, setting boundaries, and letting go of perfection balance out the pressure you're feeling now?

3. Adjust your self-talk and reset your expectations

Examine the narrative you're creating about your career achievements and the steps necessary to reach them. Don’t tie your self-worth solely to your job if you’d rather prioritize other areas of your life. Let go of "shoulds" and give yourself a break.

If you’re hoping for a promotion at a new job, take some time to maximize the experience, prove yourself, and celebrate small successes along the way. Remember that career growth doesn’t always follow a traditional path of climbing a ladder. Think of it as a journey and consider re-evaluating your perspective of professional growth.

RELATED: How To Find & Embrace Your 'Side Hustle' As A Path To Fulfillment


4. Adopt a mindful, appreciative mindset toward your job 

One of the ways to free yourself from past habits is to accept yourself and your life as it is at this moment and give yourself compassion. In quiet moments throughout the day, sit with yourself and connect to your breath. Inquire, “What do I want from my work?” “What would it be like to be happy at this moment?”

Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, well-being researcher and author says “Happiness can be successfully pursued, but it is not ‘easy.’” It can be shaped by deliberate, specific actions that you take such as expressing gratitude, either to someone else or by journaling your grateful thoughts.

When you get used to something, she cautions, there is a process called Hedonistic Adaptation. You might be happy for a time with a new job, according to Lyubomirsky, but after a while, your satisfaction is going to decrease again.

5. Think about why you joined the organization

I ask my clients to remind themselves about what appealed to them about the job when they first started it. Take yourself back through the good times (assuming you had some) and think about whether you can rekindle your work flame or whether the light has burnt out for good.


Realizing that your thoughts, behavioral patterns, and outlook might be contributing to the problem can be a bit unsettling, but it can also be empowering since it puts you in a position to act and improve your work satisfaction. By taking a close look at yourself, redefining your expectations, and fully appreciating what you have and what you can do to change your approach, you can keep your job and start thriving in it.

If you've spent time doing the inner reflective work but still feel the urge to leave, you won’t have any regrets. It doesn't mean you're running away from something, rather you're moving toward something better with an improved sense of yourself.

RELATED: Woman Who Proudly Quits Every Job Calls Out People Who Want To Work—'Who Are You Trying To Impress?'

Lisa Petsinis is a former HR leader turned ICF-credentialed holistic career coach who empowers individuals to overcome burnout, find fulfilling work, and achieve happiness, balance, and success in their lives.


YourTango may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through links featured in this article.