It’s no secret that most people either hate or tolerate the jobs they work in.
According to a survey by the Gallup research company, 65 percent of people don’t feel engaged at work.
If you’re one of these people, you need to build an escape plan fast.
Use this guide to ditch the job you hate and find a job you love.
Start with this counterintuitive attitude
Most people falsely assume that they can go from being demotivated at a job they hate to suddenly being motivated at a job they love. Instead, take a tip from Grant Cardone:
Grant is a successful real estate mogul. At one point in his life, he worked as a car salesman. He hated his job but decided to become great at it anyway.
If you can perform well when the circumstances aren’t ideal, you’ll do even better once you decide to switch careers or start your own business.
While working as a salesman, Grant became the top salesperson in the entire state.
Instead of letting his skills go to waste, he used them to his advantage and built a side business from the lessons he learned on the job.
He created a series of sales training resources based on skills he learned at his job and sold them on the side. By the time he was ready to quit his job and do real estate full-time, he had a million dollars in the bank.
Each job you have provides the opportunity to learn valuable skills. I’ve worked at jobs that weren’t my dream job but gave me skills I used to build my full-time writing career.
I was a manager at a video store, and I learned valuable lessons about customer service that I now use when working with customers who buy my writing programs.
After that, I became a project manager at a marketing company. I used that opportunity to get paid to learn different skills that have helped me in my writing career—like sales, marketing, pricing, SEO, social media, and more.
Step one is getting good at what you hate. The next step involves using your negative feelings toward your current job as fuel to move on to a job you love.
Use the job you hate for motivation to find a job you love
You can use negative emotions for positive purposes.
If you hate your current job, remind yourself of this fact when you lack the energy and motivation to map out your next move. Don’t let yourself off the hook like most people do.
Most people work a job they hate but stay there because they give themselves ways to cope with it:
- They spend their weekends on leisure activities, partying, and drinking.
- They spend their evenings watching hours of television.
- Overall, they use their soul-sucking job as an excuse to keep themselves distracted.
This resets their mind just enough for them to go back to work each week.
I’ve often made the remark that employers are smart enough to give you some time off. If you had to work every single day with no breaks, you’d realize how much you’re wasting your life doing what you hate.
They give you the weekends to help you forget.
Stop being dissatisfied with your job and your life part-time. Start to get frustrated full-time, and you’ll be in a position to start doing the work.
When I was working on my side hustle as a writer, I would internalize every single negative moment at work. When I didn’t feel like waking up at 5 a.m. to write before work, I’d think about a pesky client. I’d think about the fact that my job paid me much less than what my services were worth, which inspired me to build my own business.
Your life is passing by. Don’t fall for the trap of sitting idle while it does. You should be concerned. You should be frantically trying to plan your escape. Once you’re fed up enough, it’s time to plan your escape.
Take a personal inventory
Now, you have to figure out what your next move might be.
This is where taking an inventory of your life and current skills comes in handy.
You take the combination of your natural talents, your past work experience, and your interests to come up with an idea for what you want to do next.
Let’s take a look at each category.
How to find your strengths
If you focus on your natural talents and strengths, you’re that much closer to passion. Passion doesn’t come from sitting around and waiting for it to fall into your lap. You develop passion by getting good at a skill.
Cal Newport says it well:
Your odds of becoming “so good they can’t ignore you” are higher if you try something you’re already good at.
This is where taking an inventory of your strengths comes in.
You can try a few different routes.
First are strengths assessments and personality tests. Some social scientists debate whether or not these tests are rooted in solid science, but science isn’t the point. You can use these tests to point you in a solid direction. In my experience, these tests have served me well.
I recommend Strengths Finder by the Gallup Research company.
You take their assessment, and then the test ranks your potential strengths. Your recommendations come with tips to cultivate those strengths and ideas for careers to pursue or businesses to start.
My assessment told me to focus on gaining wisdom through studying and writing down my thoughts, which is exactly what I did. This led me to start my side career in writing.
Look for clues
You can also get insights into your strengths and talents based on anecdotal areas.
The first involves feedback you’ve heard from other people. The best kind of feedback comes from people you know but aren’t close friends of yours, which means they’re more objective when complimenting your skills.
An example might be a teacher who told you to pursue a certain career or an offhand comment from an acquaintance. I’d always get complimented on my communication skills.
People would tell me I’m articulate, have a strong vocabulary, and even have a nice voice and should be on the radio. Today, I write, shoot YouTube videos, and record podcasts, all of which line up with those compliments.
Another valuable question to ask yourself:
What comes easily to you that’s difficult for others?
Maybe you’re naturally organized, you dress well, you’re good with words, you’re good with numbers, or you have excellent social skills. An organized person could become a consultant helping others with their productivity. The stylish person could be a style consultant. A person good with words could become a writer. If you’re good with numbers, an accounting firm might make sense. A person with great social skills could teach others who lack them.
Use the experience you already have
Prior work experience can be helpful, too. Often, many people are in careers where they enjoy the skill they have but just don’t want to have a boss. An example could be a designer who works for a company but wants to become a freelancer who earns more and has more free time.
Most knowledge workers are in a position where they would be much happier if they found a way to provide their services without the oversight of a boss.
Say you’re good at sales like Grant Cardone, but you want to sell something else on your own terms. You could explore careers that either involve selling a different product or using those sales skills to start your own business.
Maybe you like the field you’re in but want to work in a different position. You might even be happy in the same company as long as you have a different title or work in a different department.
Many people want to switch to entrepreneurship, but they don’t think they’re cut out to be entrepreneurs. Here’s a good mental re-frame that helps. If you’re an employee, you’re already an entrepreneur but with a single client (which is your employer).
If you had the dedication to go to college for years at a time or learned certain skills to land your gig, you already have the motivation level required to switch jobs or start your own business. You just have to deal with the fears and mental barriers that get in the way.
At the end of the day, you already have somewhat of an idea.
If you knew whatever you tried would work out, it would suddenly be easier to choose a new career or business idea, wouldn’t it? When people discover what I do, they open up to me and talk about their passions because they know I won’t judge them. When I ask them what they would do if they couldn’t fail, they’re bursting with ideas.
Your new career or business could be as simple as figuring out what words come next after the phrase:
“It would be cool to…”
Another question I love that I heard from one of my favorite writers, James Altucher:
What section of the bookstore would you read if you could only choose one?
The answer is usually sitting right underneath your nose.
One time I was talking to this Uber driver in L.A. After finding out what I did, she started pouring her heart out about the fact that she hated her job and wanted to switch but didn’t know what to do.
I forget her exact career, but she mentioned that people reached out to her occasionally for help with reading the language in contracts. She said she was really good at it, too.
“Why don’t you just charge for that and make it your business?”
Sometimes the answer is that simple.
Begin the learning phase, then make a decision
The next phase involves picking something to run with.
I can’t tell you exactly what to do next. That answer is going to come from taking a personal inventory. Eventually, you’ll have to narrow it down to a choice.
Even if you don’t have a perfect idea yet, get in motion:
- Start reading books about your interests.
- Watch videos and listen to podcasts.
- Reach out to people in fields of interest to pick their brains.
You want to start dedicating time outside of your job to learning and research.
The minute you land on an idea, you have to map out the next steps:
- If you found a new career path, figure out what requirements and certifications are needed.
- If you want to start a business, look at step-by-step guides or take an online course.
- For something like starting a non-profit, look at what bureaucratic red tape you need to cut through to get there.
Map out a simple plan and then do this next.
Try a new path as an experiment
Commit to a 90-day experiment where you try your new skill, project, career idea, or business to see if you like the direction you’re moving in.
- Write a blog post every day for 90 days.
- Spend 90 days setting up your e-commerce store, looking for products, and trying to sell something.
- Spend 90 days on a coding boot camp.
The goal is 90 days of action where you’re going harder than you have in your entire life.
Treat it as an experiment so you don’t feel over-committed.
If after 90 days you like what you see, map out a new 90-day plan for the next phase in the journey.
I started writing and worked hard on it daily for 90 days. After that, I spent the next 90 days working and learning what it takes to get paid. For the next 90 days, I started focusing on ways to earn money, like freelancing. The next 90-day period after that, I worked on my first book.
These 90-day chunks will look different depending on the path you choose. Get started, and the answers will reveal themselves to you over time.
If you did this for 12 months, you’d have a solid footing to leave your full-time job. If you secure a new gig, then the answer is clear. But if you don’t know when to quit your job to start a business, here are the benchmarks I used:
- Have six months in cash saved up.
- Make sure your side hustle makes as much, if not more, as your job, for six months in a row.
- If you feel the revenue will keep coming in at this rate, then quit your job.
If you find a job you love and feel confident in the above benchmarks, why not take the leap?
Commit to finding a job you love
The work you do for a living matters a lot.
You spend a third of your waking time at work for most of your life.
Don’t treat this lightly.
If you’re frustrated right now, use it as fuel, and don’t give up until you find a job you love.