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One of the worst feelings you can feel at work is trapped with no way out. I meet professionals every day who feel chained to their job. They are very often in unhealthy situations that make them miserable each and every day. Some have an abusive boss. Others work for a company they no longer believe in. But, because they rely on the income, they’re stuck. It feels like a dead end road with no way out. It can be stressful and emotional.

I empathize so much with this experience. Feeling trapped at work can feel demoralizing. It gives you a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. It increases your stress and decreases the quality of your work. But, there are steps you can take to begin to regain your independence and your sanity.

It may sound counterintuitive, but the very first step to freedom is to avoid quitting your current job if possible. Of course, this doesn’t apply if you are in a truly abusive environment. But, if your office is tolerable, try to stick with it until you have another job. The old adage that “it’s easier to find a job when you have a job” is true. And, if you’re out of work and struggling financially because you quit, you’re more likely to accept another dysfunctional job to replace the income. You already have one job you hate. You don’t need two.

Second, take the time to set up a budget for yourself. Make a point to try to live below your means. Revisit it each month to track your progress. This isn’t always possible, but if you are able to keep your expenses low, you will be less dependent on your current income. Then, if you do lose your job unexpectedly or do need to quit, you will have more time to find another job– and more flexibility in your job choice. Because you won’t be tied to a high level of income, you’ll have more choices in future jobs.

Make every attempt at creating an emergency fund for yourself. This goal can be tricky, but even a small amount of money added each month can add up. Emergencies are an unavoidable part of life. If you’re ready for them, you are much less reliant on your day-to-day paycheck.

Although these suggestions may seem small, it’s amazing how much mental and emotional freedom they can give you. Knowing that you are in control of your future makes a bad job feel less like a chore. Knowing you would be okay if your company went out of business gives you just a little extra breathing room.

So, while you are taking care of things at work, be sure to also take care of them at home. You will be amazed at how much better you’ll feel knowing you have a backup plan. In the end, giving yourself the mental peace of mind and freedom that comes with it is worth so much more than any fancy lifestyle.

Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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