My Job Is Killing Me But I Can’t Quit


my job is killing me but i can't quit

Being in a job that is killing you is brutal. Your job consumes more of your waking time than just about any other activity. So if you’re in a job that is making you miserable, not only will the time that you’re at work itself be difficult, but it’s also hard for it not to cascade into other areas of your life. 

And it’s particularly difficult if you find yourself in a situation where you feel like “my job is killing me but I can’t quit”. It can make you feel stuck and helpless and unsure of what to do. 

That that end, this article is going to offer recommendations for what to do if you’re stuck in a job that you can’t quit.

Let’s dive in.

What to Do When Your Job is Killing You?

When you’re in a job that is killing you but can’t quit, the first thing that you need to do is figure out a way to make your job more bearable while you’re in it. From there, you need to figure out how to get out of that job and find an alternative quickly.

Here are the steps that I would recommend to manage your situation: 

1. Practice Mindfulness


Something that has really helped me personally when I’ve been in a tough spot in a job is practicing mindfulness. Things like meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling helped me to create some mental separation from the stresses of my job and make the tough times more bearable.

If you’re in a place where you really can’t stand your job, establishing a mindfulness routine can help you to manage those emotions as you’re looking for something else.

2. Accurately Assess Why Your Current Job is Killing You

thinking person

Before you start looking for another job, it’s important to properly assess why you hate your current job

The book What Color is Your Parachute, talks about seven key aspects that make up a job:

  • Compatibility with the people
  • Workplace conditions
  • Skills used
  • Purpose
  • Knowledge
  • Money 
  • Location

Some or all of those could be reasons that you don’t like your job. And prior to leaving or looking for a new one, it’s important to accurately diagnose why you don’t like your current situation so you can ensure that you don’t end up in a similar situation when you move onto your next job.

3. Set Your Job Criteria


Building from an accurate diagnosis of why you don’t like your current job, you’re next going to want to set the criteria for your next job.

Your job criteria is a written set of requirements that you would have for a new job that you’re looking for. Basically, it would cover the details that you’re looking for on all of the seven different factors of a job. 

By having that in writing, that will guide the process of what jobs you apply for, the questions that you ask during the interview process, and which job you ultimately take. And it will help you to do that in an intentional, unemotional way.

4. Aggressively Apply for Jobs

job application

Once you have your job criteria laid out, then you can begin your search in earnest. And if your current job is killing you, you’ll want to start aggressively applying for new positions.

Now, you’ll be doing it with intentionality based upon the job criteria that you defined, but once you know what you’re looking for, then you go after it with focus and determination.

5. Interview Well

job interview

The final step in the process is that once you have some interviews lined up, to go out and interview well. 

Know why you are a great candidate for the positions that you’re applying for and then go out and deliver that message in the interview process.

A complete guide for how to ace an interview is here.

Frequently Asked Questions

My Job is Killing Me But I Can’t Afford to Quit

thinking person

Being in a job that you hate and not being able to afford to quit can be a tough spot. While it may be temping to get out as quickly as possible,  I don’t recommend quitting your job with nothing else lined up.

Ultimately, you don’t know how long it will take you to get your next job, which could create financial difficulties for you that can then put pressure on you to settle for a position that you may hate for your next job.

To that end, I would recommend techniques like practicing mindfulness to make your existing job more bearable. From there, try to pivot to another opportunity as quickly as possible.

Should I Quit My Job If It’s Ruining My Mental Health?

toxic boss

Long term, yes, you should absolutely quit your job if it’s ruining your mental health. That said, you want to make sure that you quit your job responsibly and with a plan.

Quitting your job without something else lined up and if you’re not in a good financial position to do so can put you and your family in a difficult and stressful situation. It can also cause you to settle for your next position out of desperation, which can then lead your next job to also be one that would impact your mental health.

As a short term measure, if you can afford it and/or have healthcare through your job, starting therapy to learn skills for how to cope with the stresses of your job can help. And, as you’re doing that, applying for other jobs as quickly as possible can help you make a move quickly.


Feeling like “my job is killing me but I can’t quit” is a really tough spot. 

However, know that the pain that you’re feeling is likely short term and with some focus and intentionality, you can find a better context for you to do your work.

So, develop skills like mindfulness to make your job more bearable in the moment, and then work to move on to your next role as quickly as possible.

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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