How to Get Out of A Job or Career You Hate This Year

There’s nothing worse than being in a job you hate.

Actually, I can think of something worse…

Feeling like you’re stuck in a job you hate.

Thankfully, that’s not my current situation, but it used to be.  At two critical times in my life, I managed to figure out how to get out of jobs and career trajectories I hated.

I was reminded when I wrote a guest post on a one of my copywriting mentor’s site a few weeks ago on how to answer job interview questions.  One of the readers asked a question in the comments that really resonated with me. Check out her question and my response here if you’d like.

In replying to her, I recalled the following three steps I took when I was feeling trapped and hopeless in my career to get unstuck and onto a new path.  I decided to share with a broader audience because it might just help someone.

Unstuck Tip #1 – Believe You Can Make a Change

I’ve learned from my experiences that it is very difficult to go anywhere – both literally and figuratively – unless you have a vision of where you want to go.  If all you can see in your mind’s eye concerning your career is “stuck,” then that is what you will continue to get.  You will continue to be depressed and a lot of things in your life will start to suffer because of your poor attitude.

As hard as it might seem, you must start believing that change is possible for you.  You have to envision yourself being happy doing something you enjoy or that challenges you in an exhilarating way.  Without this strong sense of hope, you’ll remain where you are and your situation will get progressively worse.

Unstuck Tip #2 – Identify What You Want Right Now

When you’re feeling stuck, that is not the time to think about your 5 or 10-year plan.  Toss that out the window.  Instead, think about what you want right now.  Ask yourself: what would make me happier in my career right now?  Give it serious consideration as objectively as you can.

Maybe what will make you happy is handling different projects within your current role.  

How about a move to a different department? That could be what you’re looking for.

Maybe you like your industry in general, but just don’t want to be at your current company anymore.  

Or is it possible that you really do want to ditch your professional degree and go rogue in a different industry or profession altogether?

Whatever the answer is for you, you must have a clear idea of what you think will make you happy right now.

Whether it is simple or more complex in scope, your next move is to think about is how and where you can realistically make changes in the next 6 to 12 months that will put you closer to having your dream job.

Unstuck Tip #3 – Get Clear About Your Next Steps and Take Them Consistently

Once you know what you want (your goal or endpoint), work backward and figure out what are the steps you’ll need to take in order to achieve it. 

If your end goal is large in nature (for example: going from being a teacher to becoming a lawyer) and will require several years of school or apprenticing, don’t be discouraged.  Focus on what you can accomplish in the next 6 -12 months, such as preparing for the LSAT, researching and applying to graduate programs and deciding what area of law you want to specialize in.  Even if you don’t quit your current job right away, having a purpose will definitely lift your spirits and give you something positive to focus on.

If your goal is to switch departments in your current job, then focus on what will make that a reality in the next year.  Your plan of action may consist of having strategic conversations with your current boss and the head of that department to get their buy-in. You may also start offering your help to that department in your spare time.  If you don’t get their support, consider taking a course or two on your own and start interning or freelancing to get experience. You may also consider getting a mentor outside of your company in the field you’re looking to move into.

Whatever steps you determine, it is critical that you are intentional and you consistently take action daily to make your new vision a reality.

Bonus Tip – Keep Your Resume Up to Date

Whatever steps you take to get on a path to a new career, at some point you will need a resume to help you share your career story.  It is always a good idea to continually refresh it every 6 months with newer roles or projects you’ve taken on and new accomplishments you’ve earned.  

If you have been feeling trapped in a job or career you hate, I hope following my process will help you uncover your own path out of “stuck.” Is this your friend’s reality?  Share this post with them.

Do you have other tools, tips, or tricks for getting unstuck?  Share with me in the comments.
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