“I hate my job but I am too afraid to quit…”
This is the #1 thought those who want to quit a job they hate, have.
Hell, while working a job I hated I used to have the exact same thought more times than I thought about eating, or going to sleep, or being out with friends, or doing anything that people working “normal” jobs do.
As it turns out, if you play your cards right, quitting your job is not as scary as most people imagine it to be… And I am not saying this from a safe distance…
I have actually quit 2 jobs during the last 4 months and I quit the last one without even having anything lined up.
However, I wasn’t always “brave” like that. I have been exactly where you are… Fear kept me shackled in a job I hated for 2 years. And a few months ago I was the one reading articles about people quitting their job wishing that I was in their position just like you wish you were in mine right now.
Nonetheless, there were some actions that I kept consistently taking which over time helped me mellow my fears, build more courage, and actually quit my job.
And lucky you, I am here to let you know all about them, hopefully helping you to make the leap yourself either instantly or at some point in the not-so-far future and escape from that hell you call your job.
How I Overcame the Fear of Quitting My Job
Before I go any further, I want to point out that overcoming the fear of quitting my job didn’t just happen overnight…
It was a rather ongoing process which unfolded over a period of about 2 years, during which I didn’t stop taking consistent various actions towards weakening the grip my fears had on me enough to finally jump ship.
Understanding what fear is in the first place and why it exists was a crucial part of the entire process of overcoming it.
The more clearly and calmly we can articulate the origins of our fears, the less they will frighten us and control us. – Psychology Today
So, here is what I’ve got for you.
Fears in a Nutshell
Fear is a natural, healthy response that helps us deal with what we consider potentially threatening to our survival and has played an important role in our species surviving through the ages.
Think about it…
We saw a lion, and we kept our distance from it because we were afraid that it would rip us apart. If the lion started charging towards us, fear redeemed our fight or flight reflex in order to increase our chances of survival.
Even nowadays, fear prevents us from walking into oncoming traffic, drinking bleach, falling off rooftops, and sticking screwdrivers inside electrical sockets just for fun.
The only problem is that in the modern world where we have “secured” our survival by isolating ourselves from physical threats such as big-ass predators, our fear of imminent extinction has transformed into a fear of what we believe might result in suffering and pain in the future…
Some people call this fear “ego-driven fear”.
The main difference between “normal fear” and “ego-driven” fear is that normal fear takes place as a response to an event which unfolds in the physical world and poses a direct threat to our physical existence in the present moment.
Ego-driven fear takes place as a response to an event which unfolds in our mental world and which we imagine that will result in us experiencing a great deal of emotional pain and suffering in the future.
In addition, normal fear makes us act in ways that we can’t possibly predict increasing our chances of survival while ego-driven fear mostly results in non-action in an attempt to avoid the pain and suffering that those actions could induce, decreasing our chances of living a better life.
Let me give you an example…
Normal Fear vs Ego-Driven Fear
Being chased by a guy with a knife who wants to cut your throat triggers normal fear as a response to a life-threatening situation which is taking place in the physical world right at that moment.
In order to increase your chances of survival, that fear can drive you to act in a variety of ways that you can’t possibly plan ahead such as throwing at him whatever you find in front of you, or maybe kick him in the balls and beat the shit out of him, or just start running away from him faster than Usain Bolt.
Quitting your job triggers ego-driven fear as a response to a belief that if you actually quit, everything will go wrong and you will have to go through a lot of pain and suffering in the future.
In order to avoid experiencing that pain and suffering, you’ll find yourself using a million excuses to stay put at that job you hate and take no action at all such as that you
- are too afraid to do it
- don’t have time
- really need the money
- working that job is the glue that’s holding the entire universe together and if you quit the universe will implode
Lastly, the lack of normal fear would probably result in death or some kind of physical impediment whereas the lack of ego-driven fear would most likely lead to living an improved life.
Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. – George Addair
You could also say that ego-driven fear is more like a phobia and not fear per se.
Phobia: Anxiety characterized by intense and irrational fears caused by our anticipation of some imagined bad situation which in reality poses very little or no actual danger.
What I am trying to say here in simpler words is that the fear of quitting a job is not real fear… It’s just bad management of our mental faculties and our ability to visualize the future. Everything bad that we believe will happen after quitting a job is just a figment of our imagination and poses no real threat to us.
Worry is a misuse of our imagination – Dan Zadra
On the other hand, I am not claiming that quitting the job you hate is going to be all rainbows, lilies, and fairies kissing your forehead.
Truth is that the chances of you quitting your job resulting in a negative experience are as much as the chances of resulting in a good experience, 50/50.
And you can never possibly predict what kind of experience you are going to experience until you actually experience it.
In fact, quoting one of my favorite philosophers, Terrence Makenna
Don’t worry… You don’t know enough to worry… Who do you think you are that you should worry for crying out loud? It’s a total waste of time! It presupposes such a knowledge of the situation that it is in fact a form of hubris. What you do is just pay the bills, pack heat if you need to, and don’t worry! Worry is praying to the devil… Worry is betting against yourself… Worry is preposterous!
In the short video below, Brendon Burchard, #1 New York Times best-selling author, explains that there are 3 types of ego-driven fear…
- Fear of loss pain
- Fear of process pain
- Fear of outcome pain
Make sure to sit back and watch it because he offers some amazing insights on what each fear is and how to overcome it.
To help you further reduce your fear of quitting your job, in the next few sections I am going to dive deeper into some of the most prevalent fears I had about quitting my job and how I managed to overcome them one by one individually.
The fears I am going to be talking about are:
- Running out of money
- Other people’s judgment
- The unknown
According to a poll of 20.000 participants that I recently came across, the 2 most common fears that people have about quitting their job is the fear of running out of money and the fear of the unknown, so I’ll start right there.
The Fear of Running Out of Money
If you ask 100 people why they keep working a job they want to quit, 99 of them will answer “Because I am too scared that if I quit, I’ll run out of money…”
I used to be one of them…
Running out of money was the main fear that kept me stuck in a job I hated for 2 years.
After all, most of us don’t work jobs because we have nothing better to do with half our waking hours but because having no income could probably result in us having trouble paying our bills and putting food on our table.
Nonetheless, I managed to greatly reduce my fear of running out of money by ensuring that even after quitting my job, I’d be able to cover my basic needs for a while until I found another source of full-time income.
Reducing Your Fear of Running Out of Money 101: START SAVING MONEY!
The first and foremost step I took towards dealing with my fear of running out of money was setting aside money with every single chance I got.
The more money was stacking up in my savings account, the less and less afraid I became of quitting my job.
Eventually, when I managed to gather 1 year’s worth of expenses, my fear of running out of money was at its lowest point so I took the plunge and quit my last job without having anything else lined up.
Having set that much money aside was an enormous reassurance that even if everything went wrong after quitting my job, even if my worst-case scenario took place and I was left without an income for more months than I had planned, I’d still have a lifeboat to keep myself afloat and cover my financial needs until a new source of income turns up.
In addition, besides reducing my fear of quitting, it also gave me the luxury to take some time off, rest, clear my head, and contemplate on my next moves without feeling pressured and stressed over having to find another source of income instantly because otherwise, I will have no money to cover my expenses.
It’s now been 3 months since I quit my last job…
I just started searching for a new job and I’ve actually been spending less money than I initially expected. This means that I still have at least 10 months worth of expenses which in turn allows me to take as much time as I want and look for my “perfect” job without any rush whatsoever.
Plus, right now, I’m the least afraid of running out of money I have been during the last 2,5 years.
The more money you set aside before quitting your job the less afraid you are going to be about running out of money in the future, period.
Just a heads up, DO NOT leave your job if you haven’t gathered at least 6 months’ worth of expenses or else you might find yourself making decisions out of fear and necessity and eventually end up in an equally bad or even worse situation than you currently are.
If you want to take some time off after quitting your job just like I did, it would be a good rule of thumb to have at least 1 year’s worth of expenses saved before you actually jump ship.
Other valid options to beat your fear of running out of money are
- Landing another job before you quit your current one
- Start a side hustle, scale it until it brings enough money to cover your basic needs on the side of your current job, and then quit. This is a great way to still earn money after quitting while working on your own terms. Plus, you could eventually scale your gig to bring in a full-time income and become your own boss, not having to work a 9-5 job ever again
- Asking for financial support from your loved ones (friends, spouse, parents, etc) until you are able to stand back on your feet on your own
- Go part-time on your current job. This way you’ll get to maintain your steady salary, benefits, and health insurance while working way fewer hours. As a result, your job will become much more tolerable and you are going to have way more time and energy to devote towards figuring out another source of full-time income which will allow you to quit your current job altogether
As you can see, you have a lot of options to ensure that you’ll not run out of money after quitting your job.
The only missing piece is your willingness to conduct some research, do some brainstorming/heart-storming, and actually start taking action.
The Fear of the Unknown
You might hate your job for many reasons but what you hate, even more, is not knowing what will happen when you actually quit it.
Sure, your current job is making you miserable, but what if your next job makes you even more miserable? Yes, your boss might be a jerk but at least you know the extent of his jerkiness. Your duties might be stressful or mind-numbing but still, you know how to actually follow them through. And who knows if your next employer will fire you 2 after hiring you because they decided that you were unfit for the position after all…
Despite hating your job, you’ve grown comfortable working it.
Quitting implies inevitably stepping out from your comfort zone and putting yourself through a phase of navigating through unknown territories for a while and this seems terrifying to you…
You basically have convinced yourself that the unknown is way worse than grinding your teeth and staying put where you are…
The devil you know is much less scary than the devil you don’t know.
However, the fact that the devil you don’t know is scarier than the devil you know doesn’t automatically imply that it’s also going to be worse…
Maybe your next paycheck is going to be coming from an awesome job which you are going to actually enjoy… Maybe your next boss is going to be understanding and supporting and your colleagues very friendly. Maybe your business idea is going to be an absolute success and you’ll get to work for yourself for the rest of your life doing something you love.
I said it before and I am going to say it again, possibly multiple times throughout the article… Everything bad you think will happen after quitting your job is just in your imagination.
You can NEVER possibly know what will happen after you quit until you actually quit, period.
And if you think about it, just like you don’t know what will happen after quitting your job, you can’t know what will happen if you don’t quit.
Maybe you stick it out only to get fired a year later. According to an article I came across recently, a total of 19.965.000 people were laid off or fired during 2016 in the US. And 2016 actually had the LOWEST number of annual layoffs in the 16 years since 2001. And I am pretty sure that a huge percentage of all those people didn’t leave their jobs despite wanting to because they were too afraid of leaving a stable position and heading off to the unknown.
But somehow, they were forced to the unknown anyway.
Maybe your current duties will become even more unbearable or your boss flips out because his wife kicked him out of the house and starts making the lives of all his employees a living hell. Or you might die in a car accident on your way to your current job tomorrow.
My point is that every devil is unknown, even the ones you think you know. You can never know what tomorrow brings so instead of wasting your days somewhere you hate, invest them in figuring out a way to do something you enjoy more.
Realize that what lies in the unknown may very well be everything you ever hoped for. There is only one way to find out. – Amy Rees Anderson
To tell you the truth, the thought of working a job I hate for the rest of my life makes me way more scared than exposing myself to the unknown for a while for just a small possibility of earning my living by doing something I enjoy more.
The Fear of Others People’s Opinions
“If I quit my job, my boss is going to be disappointed in me, my parents will worry about me, my friends are going to ridicule and reject me, my spouse will disapprove, my children are going to silently think that I am loser and quitter.”
Does this sound familiar?
Like every other fear you have about quitting your job wasn’t enough to hold you back, you also have to worry about how other people might negatively judge you if you actually quit.
And in your mind, this is just another valid reason to just stay put even if this means being unhappy for the rest of your life, despite really being one of the worst, stupidest, most irrational and counterproductive excuses to abstain from taking action towards improving your circumstances.
Our fear of other people’s opinions, or FOPO as I call it, has become an irrational and unproductive obsession in the modern world, and its negative effects reach far beyond performance. – Harvard Business Review
What I did to beat the fear of other people’s opinions…
First of all, I realized that what other people think of me, is their own problem and not mine… It’s just thoughts in their heads and I have no more control over them than the control I have over raining, an earthquake or the Earth spinning around the sun.
Also, let me assure you that people will always find aspects of you to judge negatively either you want it or not.
Some people will like and approve of you, and some won’t. Some people have a vested interest in thinking you are deficient. They will think you are in the wrong no matter what you do. No matter who you are, some people will disapprove. – Psychology Today
It’s impossible to keep everyone happy about every single aspect of your life no matter how hard you try so sacrificing your own happiness to achieve so is absurd.
And believe me, as long as you don’t improve upon yourself and your life because you worry about what other people might think of you, you’ll NEVER be happy.
The unhappiest people in this world are those who care the most about what other people think about them. – C. Joybell C.
In addition, consider that you have just one life to live and that’s it. Your most precious commodity is those few years you get to be alive. You don’t get a second chance… You don’t get do-overs. Once it’s over, you are dust.
Life is way too short to live it trying to conform to other people’s opinions.
Furthermore, I’d like to believe that those who really care about me would want me to be happy no matter what even if the actions I take towards becoming happy make them feel a little bit uncomfortable for a while.
Anyone who doesn’t want me to be happy is simply not worth my attention and worry in the first place.
Lastly, I kept the decision of quitting my job secret from most people I knew until I actually did it.
Making the decision to quit your job is inherently hard…
Let me tell you that it becomes 100% harder when you start receiving 3rd-party negative feedback either from people who are threatened by your decision because they are jealous of you or people who genuinely worry about you and believe that quitting your job is going to hurt you.
So, make sure to reveal your quitting plans only to people who you are confident can support you as well as provide some good advice. Optimally, ask for feedback from people who have quit a job in the past.
Keep everyone else in the dark until you have already executed your plans unless you are 100% sure that you are ready to receive and deal with insane amounts of negative feedback.
Negative feedback could be extremely helpful only if you know how to handle it the right way.
The Fear of Regret
The last fear I had about quitting my job was the fear of regretting quitting it.
You’re thinking about leaving your job. Something tells you to stick it out (probably some kind of fear), but you don’t listen. You quit anyway…
A month later, you find out that the boss or the colleague who was giving you such a hard time got fired. Or maybe, there was a shift in the organizational structure of the company and those duties you hated were allocated to another department. Or maybe, you landed another job which you thought was better only to realize 3 months later that it’s actually way worse than the one you quit. Or maybe, the business idea which you quit your job to pursue didn’t turn out so great after all.
You start beating yourself up… You get depressed…
“If only I hadn’t left my job…”
Hello, darkness my old friend…
Beating this fear is extremely simple!
First of all, a statistic…
According to a survey of 1,000 professionals conducted by Accountemps, only 23% (one out of four) of those who quit their job end up regretting it. 23% is not such a small percentage but still, you have 77% chances of actually being satisfied with your decision to leave.
And even if you regret quitting your job, who cares?
Wouldn’t you rather make a mistake and learn from it instead of always wondering how your life would have transpired if you had actually taken the plunge?
Wouldn’t you prefer a “what if I hadn’t quit my job” than a “what if I had quit my job”?
I know I definitely would. And I assure you that you would as well.
It’s much better to regret something you did than regretting something you didn’t do.
An “oops” is much better than a “what if”.
You are 80 years old and you are sitting with your 3 grandchildren, 2 girls and one boy and you are basically narrating to them your life’s story. You’ve gone through your childhood, school, first love, college, etc, and you are about to start talking about your current job.
Do you want this to be the story of how you stuck through a job you hated for the majority of your life or the story of how you actually went through an amazing adventure looking for a job which would make you happier even if you didn’t manage to find one?
Despite the fact that there a lot of ways to reduce your fear of quitting your job, truth is that it’s unlikely that you can make it disappear completely.
No matter how hard you try, the fear of quitting your job is always going to be there, even if you have everything figured out.
There’ll probably never come a time when you’ll say “Okay, I am now not afraid to quit my job” and really mean it.
Don’t wait until you reach that point of fearlessness to quit because it might never come and you might end up wasting the rest of your life working a job you hate.
Trying to create the perfect conditions to quit your job is like waiting for every light at every intersection along your journey to turn green before you can set out. The lights will never all be green at the same time so you’ll be stuck at home forever. However, if you venture out to the first intersection and then to the next and then the next, you’ll eventually get to your destination. – toughnickel
Just as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase to take the first step”.
That’s just the way life is.
Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and trust that everything is going to eventually turn out okay.
- For how long have you been wishing to quit your job?
- What is the main reason that you are afraid to quit it?
Let us know all about your experience in the comments below.
If you have any questions or need any further help or guidance from me, I encourage you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop me a PM on my Wealthy Affiliate Profile.
Whatever the case, I will get back to you as soon as possible.
My best regards to you,