How to Leave the Job You Hate – Step by Step


mainThis is a guest post from Dan Garner.  Dan shares ideas for meaningful living at . Dan believes that everything we do matters and that we all have the potential to make a difference.

Are you in a job that you hate or maybe the stress is killing you?  I was. I can tell you how I escaped and lived to tell about it. This is a practical, step-by-step plan for getting you out from under the pressure of an unbearable job so that you have room to breathe and create the life you’ve dreamed of.  I’m sure you can make it work, it worked for me.

Step 1 Reduce your dependence on your job by reducing your spending

Start now.  There are thousands of ways to do this.  Cut the grocery bills, get rid of the cable, skip that $4 latte, cook at home….I reduced my monthly expenses by over 30% by using the nine steps detailed in Your Money or Your Life.

Step 2 Lessen your dependence on your stressful job by augmenting your income

The possibilities here are endless.  A few ideas:

Sell things on eBay –  I made $25,000 one year selling parts off of old, wrecked motorcycles.

Take a second, less stressful job – cut someone’s grass or wash windows. Several years back I wanted to take my children on a dream vacation to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.  Financially, it just didn’t seem feasible. Brainstorming, I decided that I would wash windows at some of the strip malls en route to and from my day job. I earned over $4000 in no time flat while putting in only an hour or two a day on my way home from work.

Step 3 Talk it over with your family and friends

It is important to have an ally. Include the people that you love and care about. Discuss your plans with them, but be quick to know who will offer support and who will offer resistance. My wife was very supportive. She knew the hell that I was going through and that I needed the change.  Her help was fundamental.

Others may not be as supportive. You will encounter resistance from “well meaning” friends and family.  You will know pretty quickly with whom you should discuss your plans and with whom to steer clear of the subject. Don’t let the naysayers discourage you – it’s your life.

Step 4 Find a job or income source compatible with your life

This doesn’t have to be your dream job at this stage of the game.  If you can land your ideal position at this point then great – go for it.  The idea here is to get you out of the job that is killing you so that you have the energy and clarity to get your plan together and get on with the rest of your life. I left my stressful job in manufacturing management for a one year gig as a customer service manager in a grocery store.  It wasn’t my dream job by any means, but it reduced my work week by 20 hours and I had my life back.  It also gave me the customer service experience that I needed to land my dream job.

Step 5 Decide what you want to do with your life

This could be an entire article in its own.  What makes you happy?  What types of activities excite you?  Should you stay at your present company but work in a different capacity?  Do you want to work for yourself?  Do some real soul-searching.  A good place to start is to look back at when you were a teenager and think of what you wanted to do before someone crushed your dreams and told you that you couldn’t do that.

Step 6 Make plans

A dream job or income source may require new skills.  Many people would say to themselves “Oh, I don’t know how to do that.”  Just one year ago I told myself I could not write because it had been so difficult for me in school.  At 45 years old I decided that I could learn to write. I am still learning. In spite of the fact that I am still improving, I have posted over 150 articles and published on several well read websites.  If one person can do it then anyone can learn to do it!

At this stage you need to come up with a solid plan.  Ask yourself the following questions. Do I need more education? Is savings or investment required? Do I know someone that is already doing this?

Talk to people with careers similar to one you might be interested in and find out what it really takes.  I thought I had to have a degree in forestry or biology to work for the National Park Service – not true.  It turns out that my customer service experience was more valuable than anything else in landing my job with the National Park Service.

Step 7 Get started

Yesterday is the best time to get started.  Start taking steps now and do something every day to work towards your goals.  Make yourself a promise, a commitment, and follow through with it.




  1. Excellent tips, Dan!

    Having recently quit a very toxic job, I would have to say that #7 was the hardest for me. Planning is fun and exciting, but actually getting out of my own way and getting started…that’s where the challenge lies!

  2. When the time is right, the opportunity or belief arises. It is in that moment we can be courageous and go for it. I did eight years ago and haven’t regretted it at all. Life should be an adventurer, so we can’t play safe. We should follow Bethanys courage and faith.
    karen recently posted…Changing Habits – Be careful Not to do this.My Profile

  3. Great post! I love how you saved up the money for the vacation to Yellowstone/Glacier! No extra commute costs, and extra cash in your pocket. :-)
    Laurie @thefrugalfarmer recently posted…The Best Birthday EverMy Profile

  4. Dan! Great ideas and great stories to illustrate. We got out of our hellish jobs and it has improved our lives in every conceivable way! But when I was planning to leave, I told Tammy and that was all. Telling anyone else would have been self imposed torture. Everyone else was informed after I had resigned.
    cj recently posted…I Like Eating OutMy Profile

  5. Love this post. I am in the process of leaving my job!
    Michelle recently posted…Bridal Shower and $3,645 in Extra IncomeMy Profile

  6. Good tips. I’ve been working at Number 2 for years. I’m still waiting on the day when my little empire fills my bank account every month and makes it so that I can do whatever I want.
    My Money Design recently posted…The Value of Time and MoneyMy Profile

  7. Great post. Too many people who are miserable at their job make a big mistake without planning their exit properly. I know a few people who made that mistake and were left with no job. I think if you really want something you have to do it right and that all starts with a plan.
    Canadian Budget Binder recently posted…How to budget as a coupleMy Profile

  8. Great suggestions Dan! I’m especially digging your excellent, but often overlooked point about changing to a more compatible job in the short term. Like you say, this will free up plenty of energy because a job you hate will suck your energy more than practically anything else in life.

    And finding work that meshes well with your passions is a big step in the right direction.

    So with that said, tomorrow is my last day at work. It took me a year to get out of the office job I once thought was so great. Now I’m returning to my passion — baking bread.

    Of course, the ultimate goal is to work for myself. But this “interim” job is a dream come true. I’ll be apprenticing to a master. And it’s work that I can love doing for years as I navigate all the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead.

    It’s been far FAR too long since I’ve enjoyed my work. Time to have some fun and free up some energy . . .

    Trevor recently posted…Death Is At Your Doorstep. How Will You Answer It?My Profile

  9. Don’t let the naysayers discourage you. I like that line! Sometimes it’s important to remember that they naysayer can be yourself. I was pretty hard on myself – starting my sentences with, “I can’t…” or “I should…”. It was so important for me to get over myself thinking no one else could do my job, I was letting people down. Guess what? Most people shift and then become your cheerleader once you’re happy. I guess it’s just human nature to be cautious, but don’t let that hold you back! Great post, Dan. Great to hear a bit more of your story too!
    Tammy R recently posted…I Like Eating OutMy Profile

  10. Dan, great post here. I think the main point I would take away is that you have options but you have to DO something. A lot of people complain but wont take action. Hate the job but wont live on less so they can take another job. Or I don’t have time or I’m too tired to work after I get off of work. I think its great you put in the extra time to pay for your family to go on that vacation. Do you still sell parts on ebay?
    Thomas | Your Daily Finance recently posted…When Is the Right Time to Change JobsMy Profile

  11. Well done on Ebay! Knowing how to buy and sell stuff can be very lucrative. I replaced my day job income with freelance writing, left my job once I had half a dozen clients and was making more than at said job, when you diversify you are better protected if one source of income runs dry.
    Pauline @ Make Money Your Way recently posted…Make extra money: Rent your parking spaceMy Profile

  12. Its inspiring to read about you learning to write at 45! It challenges me because I have been putting it off and its probably the last straw in starting off at a better job! For me, step 7 holds the most water; getting started!
    Thanks for sharing Dan, very eye-opening!
    Simon @ModestMoney recently posted…Beyond Life Insurance: Why You Should Consider Funeral Insurance and How It Protects Your FamilyMy Profile

  13. If we are happy with our current job and can sustain a lifestyle, stay and improve yourself to become better. But, does the employment is the only source of income? If we are not happy with the current job, find what you really like to do. A business can give us unlimited income that is why it is highly recommended to have a business. Still, whether a job or business, you need to be happy on what we do for a living.
    anthony a. @ financial freedom ideas recently posted…Debt to Prosperity! The Answer to debt is here. Start saving and have a businessMy Profile


  1. […] @ We Only Do This Once writes How to Leave the Job You Hate – Step by Step – Are you in a job that you hate or maybe the stress is killing you? I was. I can tell you […]

  2. […] @ We Only Do This Once writes How to Leave the Job You Hate – Step by Step – Are you in a job that you hate or maybe the stress is killing you? I was. I can tell you […]

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge