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You don't have to suffer for years at that soul-killing job just because you're paying down debt.

3 minute read

I’ve had so many jobs in my lifetime that when I mention an old one, my friends are jolted by the new revelation. “You worked at a 7-11? Is there anywhere you haven’t worked?” they ask.

To my credit, in the last 20 years, I’ve had only three full-time jobs, and one lasted for 15 years. However, before I pursued writing, I had around 40 jobs in 20 years. They were all over the place: restaurant manager; travel agent; waitress; retail clerk; bus driver; trolley tour guide; photographer; door-to-door sales; baker, laboratory courier and many more.

Some lasted a year or two while others lasted a few months. One hotel job lasted only one day. But I’ve never been unemployed for more than two weeks since I was 16 years old.

All that job hunting taught me there are lots of jobs out there, positions you don’t even know exist. And just because you have a lot of bills doesn’t mean you can’t find another job you like while you pay down debt.

Here are my tips for leaving an ulcer-inducing job and finding one that you enjoy.

1. Don’t make rash decisions

When I was 22, I once quit a management job I despised with no notice because I woke up hung over and in a bad mood. That’s how I ended up working at a 7-11 for two weeks. Don’t ever quit a job in anger or another emotional state. Plot, plan, strategize and search while you’re still drawing a paycheck. The last thing you need is to fall further in debt because you’re unemployed.

2. Be open

When a manager at one job cursed and screamed at me over something trivial, I’d had enough. I secured a low-paying hourly job picking up medical specimens from doctors’ offices. I assumed the job would be a stepping stone to better work and gave my notice to the blowhard boss.

On the first day, I learned the job came with a company car with all expenses paid and a gas card that I could use even while driving hundreds of miles on vacation. The job even paid the tuition for some college classes I needed to work toward an English degree. I had autonomy, great benefits, a new car and time to study, and put myself though college working at this initially unimpressive job.

3. Choose work you enjoy

I’ll never understand why so many people think they can’t pursue a job that suits their personality. For years, I falsely told interviewers I was a team player when I’m actually someone who can’t even bear to play doubles in tennis. Eventually, I landed jobs that allowed me plenty of time outside the office, since I need variety and visual stimulation. Don’t ever just answer job postings. Write down what you enjoy and apply at places where you can enjoy an environment that appeals to who you are.

4. Realize that hating your job creates more debt

People who hate their jobs often do things like overeat and drink or smoke more. Maybe they’re too beaten down to cook so they order takeout every night. Unfulfilled job haters charge new things on credit cards to cheer themselves for a day or two. It’s hard to like yourself if you don’t like your job. And if you don’t like yourself, you’re more likely to do self-destructive things like acquire more debt to fill the emptiness created by an unfulfilling job.

5. Don’t limit yourself

Most people have a long list of reasons of why finding a job they enjoy isn’t possible. For example, “What I like doesn’t pay well” or “They’re not hiring right now.” Don’t accept those limiting thoughts. I got my first travel agent job by just walking in the agency and chatting with the manager. She didn’t have an opening but admired my initiative and gave me a job later.

If you have kids to support or difficult circumstances to navigate, switching jobs is harder but at least set a goal. Go to school, even part-time, if you need training or a degree or have to work while you do it. Life is too short to spend a huge chunk of time hating a substantial part of your existence.

Who knows? You might just end up enjoying the work you do while paying off debt and growing your savings account.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

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