Why I Forced Myself to Stick Out a Job I Hated

I wanted to leave for a really long time, but I kept putting off my resignation for one big reason.

Maurie Backman
Maurie Backman
Jul 8, 2019 at 7:18AM
Investment Planning

They say life's too short to be unhappy, and if you're in a job you hate, you should find a way to quit. That's not bad advice, but in some situations, it actually does make sense to stick out a job you're unhappy with. That's what I did for years after graduating college, and while I did quit eventually, I forced myself to stay on board for what my friends and family said was way too long. But I had my reasons.

Sometimes, you follow the money

You've heard of golden handcuffs, right? Well, money was at the heart of my decision to stay at a job I hated for almost five years.

To be fair, the first few years weren't so bad. Or maybe they were, but being a newly minted college grad with limited experience, I had no expectations of my first job being pleasant or easy. But the longer I stayed, the more miserable I grew.

Woman sitting at a desk, covering her face

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

I wanted to quit at the two-year mark, and then at three years, and then four. The reason I stayed closer to five boiled down to the fact that I was really well paid for someone my age, and I knew that going from a finance job to a freelance writer as per my plan would mean taking a major pay cut.

And frankly, I was scared to do that. I was used to a salary that enabled me to save money, travel, and dine out when I pleased. I knew that going from a solid income to a variable one would mean making lifestyle adjustments and having to give certain things up. And I was willing to do those things -- but the idea of not being able to save for a while scared me. And so I stuck out that job until I managed to really boost my savings and buy myself the ability to quit without financial stress.

I'm a big proponent of being happy with what you do, and anyone miserable at his or her job should most definitely take steps to improve that situation. But if you're earning a nice salary and aren't sure you'll manage to earn at the same level again, then you might consider sticking out a bad job a bit longer, banking a bunch of cash, and then moving on. Having that cushion will give you more options to take a job you're apt to love, and if you're going to leave a bad job, the last thing you want to do is swap it for another that's less than ideal.

Once I left my finance job to pursue a full-time freelance writing career, it took a long time to build my earnings back up. My first year after leaving my finance job, I maybe earned one-third of what I brought home the previous year. But staying at that job as long as I did made it possible to absorb that pay drop, and so while part of me regrets not quitting sooner, another part of me thinks I definitely made the right choice.