The secret to moving on from a job you hate

how to leave a job you hate

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” –Victor Frankl

There you are again, sitting in your gray cubicle thinking: I hate this job.  Thoughts are running through your head like “This place is nuts and these people are crazy.  This work is so boring.  My boss doesn’t appreciate me.  I’m not using my talents here.  I don’t fit in here. This work is meaningless.”

And on and on and on.

And then it happens.  You decide, “That’s it, I’m out of here.  I’m going to find a new job.  I’m moving  on and everything will be better.”

Sound familiar?

I know I’ve found myself in this place many times over.  I’ve been there believing that a new job was my ticket to happiness and fulfillment.  I’ve convinced myself several times over in my career that if I can just find a new position in a new company or better yet – go out on my own – everything would be just perfect.

But what happened was far from perfection. I’d move on only to find myself in similar circumstances all over again.

Don’t get me wrong, doing meaningful work you enjoy is very important.  But the truth is, even though the job may truly suck, you can’t move on to something better until you make peace with where you are right now.  You won’t be able to find happiness in any work until you get clear on what’s really going on.

Why? Because you will find that the same patterns emerge again and again.  Have you ever heard the quote “wherever you go, there you are”? Well, it’s true.  Every time you find yourself in the same circumstances, the common denominator is you.

And that urge you feel to get out quick and escape being uncomfortable? Well, that’s actually a call to go deeper.  It’s your soul’s way of guiding you to something that needs attention.

So before you go and quit your job, try these three steps to getting clarity:

Feeling Trapped and hopelessly lost

  1. Own it all.

I have found that one of the key pieces to breaking this cycle is to get really clear on what’s going on, AND  to fully own it. So, fully accept that you’re in a job that’s less than ideal.  Really own it.  What specifically do you dislike?  What makes you mad?  Capture your thoughts in a journal or on paper.  Read them over and let them be just as they are.

Secondly, own that you’re there in that job because you choose to be.  Because the truth is you don’t have to be there.  You make the decision to get up every morning, get in your car, and show up at the office.

  1. Find what’s good.

Now that you’ve moved through the uncomfortable feelings, ask yourself what is good here in this place? What can you be grateful for even in the midst of unease?  What can you appreciate?


Maybe it’s that direct deposited paycheck that comes in each week like clockwork.  Perhaps it is the health insurance coverage for your family.  The guy in the mail room who always greets you with a smile?  Or that awesome lunch spot around the corner?  Look for the positive things – large and small.


  1. Reconnect with your power.

Feeling negative about your work situation (or any situation, for that matter) disconnects you from your true self.  You’ve basically given your power away to your circumstances. So, make the decision to show up as you again.  Choose yourself in the face of whatever is going on.

You can do this in a million different ways.  It might look like deciding to continue sharing suggestions in the next staff meeting, even if your boss brushes them off.  Or maybe you commit to actually taking a lunch break each day, despite the fact that your co-workers are all chained to their desks come lunch time.  Or maybe you simply find tiny little ways to make your day brighter, like enjoying music you love while you work.

The truth is that it doesn’t matter where you work.  What matters is how you feel and how you show up. Just like Victor Frankl says in the quote at the top of this page, you get to choose how you feel.

And the silver lining to all of this? Well, you may still decide to leave your job. But if you do, you’ll do it with clarity and honor, and feeling good.

Or maybe you’ll surprise yourself and stay. But you’ll make that decision with a new frame of mind, knowing you were the one who got to choose.