It starts to creep up on you like a disease. The familiar sights on the streets that you traverse daily as you go to your office depresses you. You see your building and you take a long, weary sigh as you punch in. You course through the day like a zombie, only to repeat the next day. The only day you have a perceptible glow to your aura is when it's 30 minutes till the end of your Friday shift. You're already looking forward to the next weekend come Sunday night.
You know where this is headed. Like all good relationships must come to an end, you realize you can't do any more of what you're doing. Taking time off isn't working any longer, you just need to quit. But you can't. You have this looming due date on a debt you had taken on, there's daily and monthly expenses to pay at home, you just had a new baby, a loved one is sick or terminally ill, your partner got laid off, there's college bills to pay, the reasons go on. What makes it harder for you is, the reasons are very real and very valid. You want to take a break so you can get your life back on track, but you can't quit because then you won't have the money to live your life.
This Catch-22 is one of the most difficult but also universal dilemmas when it comes to career woes of the modern employee. So when you feel like really, really quitting but you just can't quit, or at least not yet, how can you cope?
1. Save up for your "calming" budget.
Having a buffer budget calms you from stressing every day at work that you're beginning to dread. There's a lot of comfort you can get if you know you can quit any time and won't have immediate problems. There's a change in perspective that happens here. You're not staying because you desperately need your job, but you're staying because you're actively saving up for something -- the freedom to take a break. So if you couldn't set aside that generally-known 6 months worth of personal savings because of family expenses, now is the time for you to really get down and make it happen. Instead of waiting at the end of your payout if there will be money left to save, set aside your savings budget right at the moment you first receive your pay. Adjust your spending and expenses after you've set aside the amount you need to save for your buffer budget. Find thrift advice sites like Thrifty Lesley. This blog actually has meal plans that can let 2 adults eat for only 1 euro per day. Find a way to make things work with the money you have left (because if that really is all that you'll have left, you will find a way). What's important is that every payout, you get to set aside money for yourself. Knowing that every month you're getting closer to your freedom can help make the daily grind more bearable.
2. Try stress outlets that can also be alternative cash sources.
If there are other things not related to your current job that you're interested in doing, like if you're a financial analyst but you're also interested in creative writing, knitting or digital photography for example, look for ways to earn money out of them. You can find jobs on sites like the Problogger job ads, FlexJobs or Etsy. This can give you an outlet for your stress while giving you extra pay. You can even expand on this once you've finally quit and the "light at the end of the tunnel" thought will help. There are now lots of work-at-home and freelance options. Try moonlighting on the side to build up your portfolio. Calculate the expenses that you'll need to cover per day per month. Once you've established a regular gig or two to fill up for the daily basic needs expenses, you're almost good to go. It might be hard at first, but give it 3 to 6 months or so and you will find your vibe and eventually, your surplus money.
3. Think of your pay, and all the benefits and perks that hooked you in to your job in the first place.
Like the beginning of all relationships that have gone sour, it must have been rosy. You wouldn't have opted in and stayed for a long time with the job you're thinking of quitting if it wasn't full of promise in the beginning. Think of all the good things the company is giving you that you will have to lose once you quit. In some if not most cases, it will get you thinking twice. It might be like falling in love again, or teaching yourself to love again. After all, love is not just a feeling, it's a conscious act that you have to put effort on, day by day by day, just like work. It's a full-time job. So before you ring the death knell, try to take full stock of things first. Remember the good days, the friends you've met on the job, the witty conversations, the free trainings, the bonuses, the impressive health care coverage. If these are no longer enough to make you want to stay, at least they may be enough to help you endure until you're finally ready to bid your old love adieu.
Sticking it out in a day job you just can't stand any more may be one of the most difficult, strenous exercises of self-motivation and control you will ever have to do. But if staying and preparing well enough before you finally turn up your resignation can cushion you from any financial hardship in the future, then going through the motions will be worth the pain.