Seven Steps to Leaving a Stressful Job

The following is a guest post from Dan over at Zen Presence. Go check him out and get your zen on, dudes. I recently had to switch jobs (story to come soon!) and so this post comes along at a coincidentally good time!

Are you in a job that is killing you?  I was.  This post is not a pie in the sky, feel-good article.  This is a practical, step-by-step plan for getting out of a stressful job.  This plan may not get you the dream job you’ve always wanted, but it can provide the first steps along the way.  It will get you out of the trap of an unbearable job so that you have room to breathe and create the life you’ve dreamed of. I’m sure you can make it work, it worked for me.

Step 1.  Reduce your dependence on your job by reducing your spending.
Start now.  There are thousands of ways to do this.  Cut the grocery bill, get rid of the cable, skip that $3 energy drink, cook at home….I reduced my monthly expenses by over 30% by using the nine steps detailed in Your Money or Your Life.


Stressful job

Get out of that stressful job, there are better days ahead!

Step 2.  Reduce your dependence on the stressful job by augmenting your income.
There are many ways to do this.  A few ideas:

  • Take a second, less stressful job –  Cut someone’s grass or wash windows.  I once made over $4000 in three months to put towards a vacation that I could not have otherwise afforded by washing windows an hour or two a day on my way home from my day job.

Step 3.  Talk it over with your family and friends.
You may encounter some resistance in the beginning, but keep a positive attitude.  By letting them know your plan and including them, you can enlist their support.  Explain how your current job is impairing your life and that you are starting a new life.

Step 4.  Find a job or income source compatible with your life.
This doesn’t have to be your dream job at this stage of the game.  If you can land your ideal position at this point then great, go ahead.  The idea here is just to get you out of the job that is killing you so that you have the energy and clarity to get your plan together and get on with the rest of your life. I left my stressful job in manufacturing management for a 1-year gig as a customer service manager in a grocery store.  It wasn’t my dream job by any means, but it reduced my work week by 20 hours and I had my life back.  It also gave me the customer service experience I needed to land my dream job.

Step 5.  Decide what you want to do with your life.
This could be an entire article in its own.  What makes you happy?  What type of activities excite you?  Should you stay at your present company but work in a different capacity?  Do you want to work for yourself?  Do some real soul-searching.  A good place to start is to look back at when you were a teenager and think of what you wanted to do before someone crushed your dreams and told you that you couldn’t do that [TB’s editorial note: Right on, man, right on!].

Step 6.  Make plans.
Do you need more education?  Is savings or investment required?  At this stage you need to come up with a solid plan.  Talk to people with careers similar to one you might be interested in and find out what it really takes.  I thought I had to have a degree in forestry or biology to work for the National Park Service – not true.  It turns out that my customer service experience was more valuable than anything else in landing a job with the National Park Service.

Step 7.  Get started.
Start taking steps now.  Do something every day to work towards your goals.  Make yourself a promise, a commitment and follow through.

Dan suggests ideas for meaningful living at


Seven Steps to Leaving a Stressful Job — 8 Comments

  1. Great post! I stopped working corporate three years ago and couldn’t be happier. Thankfully I don’t need to go back and work for someone but I would rather work a simple job walking distance from home if I had to, rather than commute and live a crazy life for a few dollars more. Time can’t be bought.
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  2. I really love the step 5 part and the reminder to look back at what you wanted to be in High School. Goodness that was a long time ago but that is certainly when you feel invincible and think all things good are next. I had almost forgot about my dreams of the future then, thanks for the reminder. Such a great tip!
    Lisa Trenton recently posted..Android Developer Salary By StateMy Profile

  3. How many ways are there to leave your lover? There must be more ways to leave a miserable job.

    My son FINALLY escaped a job that was beating him down…not before a little big shot jumped the shark. He walked away from the *W*itch and forthwith, that very afternoon, from the company computers, sent out a cluster of resumes. Within a week he had four interviews, and a week later he had a new job.

    The man’s whole personality has changed. I guess I hadn’t realized how miserable he really was. Now that life is better, he’s a new person.

    Me, too: inspired by him, I finally gathered the nerve to walk from my own misery-making job.

    It’s sure not easy…but it looks like no, you DON’T have to be unhappy for the rest of your life.
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