dead end sign

How to Break Out of a Dead-End Job

Updated By Staff Writer on May 22, 2020

Did you recently realize that you're working at a dead end job? What started as a temporary way to make ends meet has somehow become your life every day from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and you're not really sure how it happened. All you know is that this isn't the life you wanted and you've got to make a change.

Once that realization sets in, the reality quickly becomes impossible to ignore.

You start your days with the dread of going to work, your performance starts to decrease—which doesn't go unnoticed by your superiors—and you find it almost painful to sit through the same meaningless routine day after day, wondering how to get out of a dead-end job.

Of course, this carries over into your personal life. The misery starts to wear on your personal relationships, your health, and your overall state of well-being. For some of us, this tangible lack of purpose and fulfillment becomes heavy enough to crush our confidence in our ability to be something greater. It settles around us like a cage, causing us to feel trapped and unable to break free.

It's this type of discouragement that leads us to develop thoughts and beliefs that limit our own potential for living a happier, more satisfying life. Thoughts like:

  • I need this job to make rent.
  • This is the only thing I'm good at.
  • I'm too old to change career paths.

And the most senseless limiting belief of all: If I quit now, all the time I've spent here will have been for nothing.

If you're currently at a dead-end job and you've adopted these fears and lies into your mind, we'd like to be the first to tell you that these self-limiting ideas are untrue.

It is never too late to pursue a career that gives you an abundance of satisfaction and joy. The idea that you are trapped in a dead-end job is a toxic and fictitious belief—one that will continue to corrode your existence for as long as you live.

It's time for you to break free of the imaginary cage you've locked yourself in, and we want to help.

After reading this article, you'll have the tips and insight you need to walk away from your current job and begin the pursuit of a fulfilling career. These are three ways to leave your dead-end job.

Give Yourself Direction

The first step to ditching your dead-end job is to create a rock-solid plan of action before you act. Use these three focal points to give yourself direction and a clear way to obtain your goals.


Before you start moving, you need to know where you're going. Start by defining your dream job. For some, an ideal career is defined by an occupational title: I want to be a graphic designer, a writer, a florist.

For others, a dream job is defined by the perks and characteristics that come with it: I want to work from home, own my own company, sell products that I make by hand.Define your dream job however you like and make it as detailed as possible.


The next step is to really understand what it will take to obtain the job you really want. Research the role that you want and the requirements needed to obtain that role. These requirements may include an Associate's, Bachelor's, or Master's degree in a relevant field of study, business startup costs, a professional portfolio of your work, etc. Document these findings and hold on to them; you'll need them in the next step.


Once you have settled on a solid definition of what success looks like for you and what it will take to succeed, you can begin to create an action plan to build your dream. Ideally, this plan will consist of two lists: a list of needs, and a list of actions. A list of needs may include a degree, a website, tools and supplies, financial assets, and so on. As you create this list, make sure you document the total cost of expenses to give yourself a clear understanding of how much you'll need to invest in yourself.

Your second list will be your master to-do list. This is where you break down each step of your action plan into smaller, manageable tasks that you can begin to worth through a little at a time. Your to-do list should look a little something like this:

  • Earn a degree
    • Research degree programs
    • Apply for financial aid
    • Enroll in school
    • Finish prerequisites
    • Take classes
    • Graduate
  • Put together a portfolio
    • Identify 5+ potential portfolio pieces
    • Make any required enhancements to your portfolio
    • Update LinkedIn profile
    • Build a personal portfolio website
  • Get Experience
    • Research internships
    • Apply for multiple internships
    • Complete an internship

You get the idea. Once you've created a step-by-step action plan to pursue your dream career, you can move toward breaking away from your dead-end job with confidence.

Take the next step in finding your dream job by nailing your job interview.

Pace Yourself

It's unlikely that you can switch from a dead-end job to your dream career overnight. The last thing you want to do is treat the transition like a desperate last-ditch effort and crash and burn as a result.

Pace yourself, be patient, and allow enough time to obtain the experience and resources you need to go after the position that you really want. Set realistic deadlines for your goals and stick to them.

Even if you feel like the progress you're making is slow or onerous, don't get discouraged. Baby steps will get you a lot farther than giving up and settling into a pointless job to do work that you hate.

Overlap Jobs

Chances are, you've got bills to pay and mouths to feed. You can't very well quit your day job to pursue your dream full-time, that is, unless you have a supplemental source of income. For this reason, it's wise to overlap your current job with your ultimate career goal for a smooth transition.

If you need to start your dream job part time, you can consider cutting back the hours you're working to spend more time pursuing your dream career. Alternatively, you might get a part-time gig in a relevant field, apply for internships, and enroll in a degree program that provides a flexible schedule or online courses.

It may seem like a lot to handle at first, but the end result will be well worth the hustle.

Lay a Foundation for a Brighter Future

At Independence University, we provide a wide variety of degree programs with flexible schedules and hands-on experience so you can pursue your dream career and break free of your dead-end job. Learn more about our degree programs today and find out how they can help you lay a foundation for a brighter future.