Studies show that 70% of Americans hate their job. Judging by the fact you’re a reader of PRSUIT which by its very definition is full of #driven readers, I’d venture a guess you might not be amongst the 30% who are ‘engaged and inspired’ by their job. This is for you.
What follows is my story and how it can guide you when you hate your job.
*My story is also the hardest, longest, most difficult way to leave the job you hate, but I learned a lot from it.
Statistics aside, many people are unhappy with their 9-5, and many people in this group think it wise to quit their job and pursue their passion or side-hustle. I’m all for going after your dreams, I even built a business to help people do so, but there is a better alternative to help you ease your way out of a 9-5 instead of abandoning ship outright. All it takes is a bit of patience, a shift in your mindset, and of course, a lot of hard work.
But first, a quick backstory that sets up how I went from hating my job to self-employment.
Two and a half years ago I was fed up with my first job out of college. At the time I was running two blogs, both of which weren’t large enough to support myself, my wife, and our soon to be baby. As much as I wanted to do my own thing, I bit the bullet and found a new job instead.
My new job started off a bit shaky. It was a newly created position at this company and they really didn’t know what to do with me. At one point they had me counting inventory back in their dusty warehouse. I have a freaking industrial engineering degree, and there I was, using a skill I learned back in grade school to make a living.
It was humiliating. I hated myself for leaving my old job. I hated myself for not doing my own thing. I felt stuck, trapped, and unfulfilled.
What transpired over the following two years, however, was different story… one that has finally guided me to the precipice of self-employment. Just this week I informed my manager of my plan to exit in early June so I can do my own thing. It’s really happening. But let me tell you how I got here…
Here’s what to do do when you hate your job.
Two years ago my wife was in her second year of pharmacy school. Not only was she not making money, but we were racking up a ton of student debt for her to go. Her plan was to finish school and apply to two years worth of residencies which meant that she wouldn’t be making enough money to support us until 2019.
Back in 2015, 2019 felt light years away. But I had to accept this fact. Everything I did moving forward was to prepare me for 2019. As much as I wanted to jump ship, I needed the patience to see the situation as it was:
I was the breadwinner, and would have to be for the next 4 years.
I wasn’t in a situation to rely on my blogging side-hustle to support us, but that didn’t stop me from moving forward ever so slowly. I patiently built my subscriber list one reader at a time. I patiently wrote, edited, and published a book on my own. I patiently made connections with the right people. And just this past year, I patiently built and launched my own business from scratch.
I didn’t accept my situation and sit on my hands for 4 years. I got to work, but with patience in mind.
Here’s the lesson of this section: if you hate your job but you aren’t in a position to leave, learn to live with the fact that it might take another 2, 4, 5, 10 years until you can do so. But to get there, you have to create the opportunities yourself through your hard work. It won’t pay off immediately, but this is where the patience comes in and your time will come.
However, there’s a second piece to this puzzle… what the heck to do at your 9-5 in the meantime?
Shift your mindset.
I don’t know you or your situation, but there is a likely chance that part of the reason you hate your job is you’re not deploying the right mindset. Instead of remaining in a reactive mode where I was waiting for work to come to me (aka counting inventory in a dusty warehouse), I moved to a proactive mode where I was constantly looking to add value.
In the early months of my new job, I was also highly aware of how my new co-workers worked. I carefully watched their processes and asked a lot of questions. After sometime, I would notice ways they could improve their workflow by developing a custom report or tool in Excel specifically for them.
It wasn’t easy saying, ‘hey I know I’m the new guy, but I think there is a better way to do your job.’ Some were apprehensive, others were really grateful. But after awhile, people started to take notice, including management.
Once my real value had been discovered, I was yanked out of counting inventory and placed into a new role I had basically invented for myself. I continued to do this process over the next two years, always seeking ways to add value by making my co-workers jobs easier.
And now, after talking with my manager about my exit, it turns out I’m a bit too indispensable, meaning I have all the bargaining power to possibly convert my full-time position into a part-time remote one.
Lesson learned: stop thinking about your job as a drain and start looking for ways to add value. It can only help your cause in the long run.
Put in the work.
Working a full-time job, building my business, and being a husband and father is a lot of work. I take time for leisure on Sundays to watch my Steelers, but other than that, I’ve sacrificed a lot of my free time to go after my dreams.
And as it turns out, other people took notice of my work ethic.
A few months ago, I was hired on as an advisor for Praxis. The job is part-time and remote which means I can do it outside of my 9-5. But here’s the thing… this opportunity would have never been open to me if I didn’t work hard to change my situation. This opportunity manifested itself because of my efforts.
It is possible to take action and change your life for the good. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
Now with my job at Praxis, my own business, and my wife’s stipend from her residency, (as well as accepting a lower standard of living) I am free to exit my 9-5 this June – two years ahead of schedule.
Let’s wrap this up… here’s how to leave that job you hate.
If you hate your job, you have to be patient and accept the reality of your situation. But at the same time, you need to shift your mindset to a value creation mode to survive long enough in your situation so that you can put in the hard work for your side-hustle. After awhile, you’ll finally see the fruits of your efforts.
Or you could wait for a dream job to come along. Or you could wait to win the lottery. I don’t know. Those hypothetical situations don’t seem fun or rewarding to me.
At least I’ll I know come June, that my hard work paid off. I will finally reach my goal of self-employment… which, as it turns out, is just the beginning. But that’s a story for another day.