5 Surprising Reasons Why We Don't Quit Jobs We Hate and How to Overcome Them

Businessman on phone at desk in office with hand on forehead
Businessman on phone at desk in office with hand on forehead

I still remember the day I stopped loving my first job. My manager had left, and I found myself working for a senior executive who was demanding and unsupportive.

I began complaining to anyone who wanted to hear. I promised to quit every other day, and eventually waited two years till I was asked to leave. Turns out, I am not the only one who experiences this dissonance. In fact, 70% of Americans are disengaged in their jobs, and the employment average turnover rate is less than 8%. Why do we stay in jobs we hate? After teaching over a 1,000 people through The Passion Co. and hearing their career stories, I learned about the real reasons why we do not quit. And they have nothing to do with money.

We don't think we are good enough

Do we deserve a job that makes us happy, brings us meaning and get us out of bed in the morning? Yes we all do. However most of us don't think we are good enough to get our dream job, to live the life our heart desires. Turns out behind every excuse of not quitting lies self-doubt. We blame the job not working out solely on ourselves. We are not smart enough, fast enough, political enough; leaving no room to explore possibility.

The best way to spin out of self-doubt turns out, is to recognize it when it comes up. A simple tool is to write down all of the self-blame and negative thoughts every morning for 30 days and tear down that paper right after.

We don't trust life and uncertainty

We often equate uncertainty with worse case scenario. We plan out every aspect of our lives, forgoing serendipity, and potentially greatness. Most people I met who were doing what they love, trusted at some point in their lives that it will work out. They let go of control and the opportunities that came up were better than expected. If you are afraid of the unknown you can start small, by doing things that scare you but only enough to go for it. Go on a walk with no destination, take a trip on your own, try stand-up comedy.

We do not know what to do next

Rightfully so. If we are at work all day and packed after work schedules, how will we find the mental space to reflect on what is it we really want? The truth is, figuring out what it is that we love, and want to explore next, requires intentionality, looking within and taking small steps. So make space to reflect on times when you did something and it made you come alive. Journal on your childhood dreams, your bucket list, what you want to accomplish before you die. Pick one thing and take a small step towards it. Think a photography class, learn how to code online, or whatever interests you.

We are not supported

Pay special attention to this one, because it is the trickiest of all. As humans we often need accountability to reach our goal or do what we promise to do. If no one is holding us accountable to leave our job, no one is reminding us how wonderful we are and supporting us when we are afraid, it could get challenging to do it alone. I often found that seeking support, sometimes from people other than family and friends is helpful. Even working with a coach or counselor can make the world of a difference.

We don't know why we hate our job to start with

When we are unhappy we can act irrational. We start looking at life in black and white. I remember when I wanted to quit my job and a friend asked me why, I could not answer beyond the fact that I just don't like it. What if the reason why you are unhappy is simply your relationship with your manager? Or the new role you are in? Or it is a temporary phase the company is going through? The solution can be an honest conversation, a change in responsibilities, a transfer to another team or simply patience. Think about what is it about your job you do not like and think what can you do today to make it better. If after trying you are still feeling unfulfilled then definitely consider taking the leap.

Whatever you choose to do about that job you do not like remember this one thing: no one ever looked back and said I wish I stayed in this job I hated and caused me self-doubt. You will find another job, or even make your own. It starts with trusting.