Secure but miserable…

Here’s a question that’s very similar to others I receive about ten times a week:

Dan, I have been working at a job for about 2 years, and I’m completely miserable.  The pay is decent and also the benefits/yearly bonus. But I just can’t stand the job.  I have an idea for a great business that I would love but I’m terrified of leaving the “security” of my regular “job.”

Being secure in something where you are miserable is an oxymoron and an illusion.  If you are miserable you are not providing your best work.  And if you are not providing your best work you are not as valued as you may think.  Your misery is very likely obvious – and thus, management is probably already looking for ways to cover your responsibilities.

Your real risk is not in leaving to try something new but in thinking you can just stay where you are and keep things the same.

Here are five tips for having the courage to start your own business:

  1. Recognize “risk” is the sense that you are not in control.  Preparation reduces risk dramatically.
  2. Start with your passion – build the business idea around that.
  3. Share your idea with everyone.  No one succeeds alone.  Find people whose skills compliment your own.
  4. Recognize that enthusiasm is contagious.  Your enthusiasm will act as a talent and money magnet.
  5. Create a clear plan in advance.  You can’t hit a target you can’t see.

Sometimes the biggest risk is in not taking one.


“Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise; risking more than others think is safe; dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.”

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12 Responses to “Secure but miserable…”

  1. Carrie @ Make Mine Happen Says:

    I love this because it touches my heart. I was in this very place in the past twelve months. I call this period “The Quitter’s Epiphany,” meaning that you’ve had the “I’m miserable, I’m leaving… I think” thoughts coursing through your head all day. Tip #5 resonated with me.

    I suggest a four-point approach to determining if it’s The Time to venture forth. Draw a line up and down the middle of a piece of paper. Then draw a line going horizontally through the center of the paper. You’ll have four even sections. Label them as follows: Good reasons to quit (upper left), Good reasons to stay (upper right), Back-up plans (lower left), Stay-put plans (lower right). Good reasons to quit and to stay are self-explanatory. Back-up plans… If you don’t know where you’re going to go or you want to make a radical shift and have no background in that field, you have to have solid back-up plans. For the stay-put plans… If, and only if, you figure out it’s not time to quit (yet), you have to figure out how to get through your time at your current job and, well, not go “postal” on anyone. Fill this in with proactive strategies like “Take a class on dealing with difficult people,” or, “Read Dan’s 48 Days book.” As rudimentary as it seems, this is a pretty useful tool for coming up with a game plan.

  2. Terry Says:

    What if you are miserable in a low-wage job and want to start your own business but have no money?

  3. Tom Says:

    What if you have no clue what your passion is? Or if your passion is not something that you can build a business around?

  4. Bryan Says:

    I was in this position for many years. Good salary, 3 weeks paid vacation, but miserable. I finally learned about a new career/business and stared working that on the side. Eventually was able to fire my boss and go full-time with my business. The first two years were great. Then, the economy changed. Last year was challenging, but moderately successful. This year’s prospects scare the pants off of me. I’ve had thoughts of going back into “corporate world”, but I really do not want to do that. But at this point, my prospects for profits in my business this year are not looking good. Next year looks even worse. I’m not “miserable” like I was in the j.o.b., but I’m very stressed over the thoughts of losing a lot of money and THEN having to go back. Help?

  5. Drew Says:

    Reality is that there is no real “security” for your regular job. This comment is not meant to be negative, but think about it for a moment with these ideas as a guide: Working for someone else is great for some people, and they are needed but not everyone was designed to work for someone else. May be you are the person that others would like to work for? May be you vision, passion, great ideas, entrepreneurial spirit is a real motivator to others. There are always people that will share in your vision. Sometimes it takes a while to find them and sometimes you have to grow them a little for them to get excited. When you work for others, you are limited in your income and usually do not have the flexibility to do things your way even if that meant a higher degree of success for you and the company. With the struggling economy the way it is, there is less “security” than before. Too many people define “security” as being foundationally sound in what they do and they depend on the company for security. That is really a myth! True job or career security involves you-your option to change things to make them better, your ideas to strengthen the workplace, your vision that keeps you focused and excited. As an entrepreneur, you can make the difference by changing the path, operational agenda, business plan. You make the difference, not the company your work for. With the workplace and economy like it is these days, I’ll take my own passionate plan to success with continual opportunities to “steer” around obstacles rather than being locked in someone elses unchanging plan with no options.

  6. Julie K. Says:

    It is one thing to have a “secure” position, but if you are truly unhappy and can imagine yourself staying there long term, then you need to get to work on your exit strategy. Evaluate the pros & cons of staying forever, staying just long enough to put your new Plan in place, or simply going to lunch & not coming back. No matter what you decide you will have to own the fact that YOU decided to do it. Will your future be full of rewards or regrets?

    I would encourage you not to think of your “secure” position as a dead end, but rather as a runway for launching your new life plan and career! It is important to use the resources available to you from your “secure” job to the fullest extent possible, keep your passion about your goals alive, stay focused and push through every obstacle to achieve them.

    Two years ago, I began visualizing what I wanted my life to look like when my daughter started college in the fall of 2010. I wanted 1) my personal & professional prorities to be based on my choices, 2) to have a presigious career making more money, and 3) to relocate.

    At the the time I developed my Two-Year plan, I had been in a “secure” postion with a healthcare organization for about 3 years. It was a very prestigious sounding position, but in reality there was nothing for me to do. I wasn’t involved in meetings to plan new projects, my responsibilities were minimal, and I was bored out of my mind. I was frustrated that I could not contribute more. Finally, I felt guilty bringing home a large salary for nothing, so I quit. I didn’t quite just walk away, but it was close.

    A few months later I heard through the grapevine that the entire department was disbanded shortly after my departure; duties were reassigned, and all but 1 person was let go. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I feel lucky that I was perceptive enough to see the writing on the wall before being forced into a life changing situation I wasn’t prepared for. Plus, I was confirmed in my opinion that I was the glue holding the whole place together!

    After staying home for awhile, and working a few short-term positions for about a year, I took an entry level job at a call center of a large bank so I could pay the bills & maintain benefits while deciding what I wanted to be when I grow up. I make a fraction of my previous salary and tell friends that I donate my time in exchange for benefits! As soon as I got a password, I began searching the intra-company job postings.

    Now, exactly 1 year later, I have obtained my Series 7 & 66 securities licenses and (at the age of 42) am pursuing a career as a financial planner, something I have always wanted to do. I feel at an advantage because I won’t look like a newbie! (haha) Working for a large bank, I am able to apply for positions in my new field all over the country – many of which are not publicly posted – which is facilitating my relocation objective. In addition, I get paid when I interview for these positions!

    With my oldest child preparing to start college this fall, I now have the option of relocating near her school, maintaining my “time in” and benefits, while earning a better salary and realizing my dream of helping others by showing them how to make their money work as hard for them as they work for it! I am currently communicating with managers in 3 different offices in my “target” region and plan to transfer by the end of April.

    My two-year plan is in effect starting … NOW!

  7. Arthur @ Says:

    always enjoy reading this blog. Thanks.

  8. econobiker Says:

    While Julie K.’s ( Says:March 24, 2010 at 4:07 am ) story is nice and positive, it appears that she may have left out some pertinent information. Obviously her children’s college is either being paid for by a trust fund, scholarships, or, most likely, an ex-husband. For someone to have such a bland attitude about quitting her prior job, taking a low paying new one, and then her planning to move near her child’s college (note there is no mention of a husband or his career in any of this) she obviously had/has the child support and/or alimony cushion. People fried worried about college costs only 2 years out, would not be “staying home for awhile” prior to taking a low paid job at a call center.

    I am not saying that anything she did or is doing career wise is wrong, but it makes her story much less heroic if her family is equipped financial safety cushions that others do not have.

  9. econobiker Says:

    # Terry Says:March 23, 2010 at 4:50 pm
    What if you are miserable in a low-wage job and want to start your own business but have no money?

    Terry- Dan would probably recommend some mumbo-jumbo about saving up living on less than you earn and bootstrapping the business at night. Where there is a will there is a way etc. Maybe applying for a small business loan or something. Or selling the idea to investors who would then take it from you later if it is successful.

    # Tom Says:March 23, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    What if you have no clue what your passion is? Or if your passion is not something that you can build a business around?

    If you have no clue what your passion is then most career coaches are more than willing to sell you seminars or counseling for hundreds or thousands of dollars or at minimum a downloadable PDF for under $10. Ask Dan – he probably has one priced for your budget as this is his reason for everything here- sales to the undecided.

    And if your passion is not something you can build a business around then it probably ends up remaining a hobby unless you can crack the iron ceiling of becoming an expert in demand on it no matter how off the wall it is.

  10. Ralph Says:

    Many people leave their miserable jobs then find themselves shortly in another miserable job. I know..this was me for ten years. I kept getting fired or let go or just outright quit. I kept doing this over and over until finally I had sense enough to realize it would never work out like this. I had eight despised jobs in that 10 years! I am now working for myself, making a small living, but I couldn’t be happier. I am healthier, both mentally and physically, and no where near as exhausted as I used to be.

  11. Jeffery Says:

    Well, I’m a 51 y/o man who is starting to listen to “that voice” that we sometimes hear, but more often, fail to listen to. 1) It’s been 3 years now since I’ve discovered my passion, which is personal training/nutrition counselling. 2) Got my CanFit Pro certification 2 years ago. 3) Started traing part-time @ a fitness club that closed 3 months after. 4) Trained & advised co-workers infrequently, but pretty well put my dream on-hold. 5) Recently had a day @ work that re-affrmed that I should be more pro-active in attaining my dream vocation. 6) Just happened to “channel surf” the Dave Ramsey show on my car radio, while on the way home from my “pay-check” job, as he mentioned the “48 Days” book to a call-in listener. 6) Bought the book. 7) Became inspired, & started the process of converting my garage into a fitness studio, & began researching city zoning& business permits needed. 8) Bought the 2nd book, “No more Mondays”, & what do I find on Page 95? The term “Results Only Work Environment (ROWE). Guess what my last name? Yep, that’s right…Rowe. So, I know this is’nt scientific, but if this is’nt a wake-up call for me, I don’t know what is! Thanks to Dan Miller & his wonderful timely wisdom! And to all of you reading this, keep charging ahead!!!


    Misery and security do not go together. If you’re miserable in your job, then you have not job security.

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