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Five Strategies to Cope When Quitting Really Isn’t an Option

Those who say “quitters never win” are fooling themselves. If you stick something out just because you’re afraid of giving up—and it’s something that no longer serves you—you’re wasting your time. And ultimately, you lose. Sure, you’re not a quitter. But you sure as hell aren’t winning either.

When it comes to work, quitting is sometimes the best move you can make. Often, it’s a necessary step for forward movement, growth, and pursuing your life’s purpose.

Still, as we all know, quitting sometimes really isn’t an option. Not because it isn’t the right thing to do; sometimes, you just can’t feasibly move on. Maybe you just can’t financially afford to leave your current job. Or maybe the health insurance coverage isn’t something you can give up. Or maybe the stress of leaving right now would be far worse than the stress of simply sticking it out for a while longer. These things happen. This is reality.

You can’t always pick up and move on the second you realize it’s the right thing to do. In fact, it’s rare that a decision to quit can be acted on quickly. It takes time and preparation. So, if you know it’s time to quit but doing so right now simply isn’t possible, try the following:

1. Emotionally disconnect.

Remember: It’s just work, it’s not YOU. Many people—myself included—think of work as an extension of their identity. So, if you’re in a job you hate, you can start to hate yourself. Now is the time to put it in perspective. You are not your job. Your job is simply providing you with something—whatever that thing is that makes quitting impossible. Focus on that and break the emotional connection.

2. Find a friend.

Happiness has a lot to do with relationships. Even if you’re ready to leave your job, you can still enjoy the social side of work. Find a person—just one is all it takes—who gets you. Having a friend at work makes every day easier.

3. Get out.

Don’t just hang around in an environment that feels like it’s slowly draining you. Get out and breathe some fresh air. Take lunch out of the office, go on walks throughout the day, or just take a few minutes to sit outside instead of stewing in the frustration that surrounds you. The more perspective you can get, the more you’ll be able to deal with the current situation.

4. Take steps.

It might not be feasible to quit right now, but circumstances will change. Start saving money, learn new skills, network and make connections. Prepare yourself for a time when you can leave this job and find something more fulfilling…because it will happen sooner or later.

5. Stress less.

I call this “managing the inner game” and truly, this is the most important point here. Believe me, once you know that quitting is what you’d like to do but it’s just not possible at the moment, your stress will skyrocket. This is a natural result of feeling trapped. Every instinct in your body is screaming, “FIGHT OR FLIGHT!” It’s also a result of feeling stagnant. You want to move forward and yet, due to circumstances beyond your control, you’re standing still. Don’t ignore these emotions; manage them. Actively work to get your stress under control so you don’t end up making some irrational, emotional decision you’ll later regret.

Photo Credit: Art Rock (Hennie) [Flickr]

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