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Leave My Job or Work Full Time?

freedom of self employment

I have a confession. As much as I say that I’m in favor of testing new waters and stepping outside my comfort zone, I’ve grown content with my current work situation. Aside from being independently wealthy, most ways to produce income aren’t perfect, but I have a pretty sweet setup.

I work in three different optometry settings, two private, one government, and have lots of flexibility. While I average three office days per week, I do have the ability to take several weeks off in a row or take on extra days if I want to make more money.

In all honesty, I would have probably kept the status quo until I was ready to leave the game for good. Life somehow has a way of tossing monkey wrenches into the best laid plans, and I’m afraid that’s my dilemma recently after I found out that my government job is going to be turned into a full time position. Now I’m faced with the choice to leave my job or work full time.

Doesn’t Everyone Want a Sweet Government Job?

This is not a completely negative development. Turning a 1099 contract position into a full time job with government benefits would be most people’s professional dream. Going full time would mean lots of amazing things, at least from a financial standpoint.

  • Good salary
  • Awesome health insurance, plus dental and even vision!
  • Eligibility for the Federal Thrift Savings Plan with 4 percent employer match
  • Malpractice insurance, licensure, and continuing education, all covered by employer
  • Generous vacation time plus ten government holidays
  • Almost guaranteed raises annually
  • Regular hours without weekend or evening work
  • No more long commutes
  • Short of being arrested, very little chance I’d ever lose my job

I figured it up and the benefits alone are worth at least $12,000 per year.

I also tremendously enjoy working with the Indian Health Service. I started my career there, and it would be a nice full circle way to finish. I love the clinic staff and feel like I get to do what I’m trained for there rather than nit pick with insurance companies or nutty employees. I also never have to try and sell anything.

So What’s The Problem?

With all that to be gained, there is one big thing I would be giving up: Freedom.

My whole purpose over the last several years was to work smarter instead of harder by setting up all these different jobs with the flexibility to take off to go on a school field trip or to spend three weeks at a time on vacation if I want.

I’ve also developed a nice stream of side income that would probably be difficult to maintain if I took on full time work.When I knew I was getting ready to sell my practice, I didn’t mind staying up late or working all weekend to get this blog started, but I’m not sure I could maintain the right attitude if all I saw in front of me was 40 hour office weeks.

Basically, short of quitting work altogether, I have the best of both worlds at the moment, and I’m sad that it’s probably coming to an end.

What Should You do When Faced with a Difficult Career Decision?

With any major career decision, I think you have to look at all the pros and cons and think about where you are financially. In my case, if I were to take a full time job, there would be several financial pros vs one huge lifestyle con.

Since we keep careful track of our finances, it didn’t take long to revisit how our budget would look if I didn’t take this job and continued to work my remaining two positions. We would still be fine because we don’t spend all of our income every month, but it would slow down our ability to retire as early as we want.

Of course, I could look for another optometry job or try to find ways to increase my side income. I need to replace about $3,000 a month to keep our income level steady.

The government is not a very fast moving entity. Potentially, I could have some time before my position is converted or it could be as soon as this fall. I have to decide whether or not to apply by the end of next month.

I am still torn as to what might be the best decision. I’m not an especially patient person, but for now, all I can do is make as much income as possible and wait for the official job posting to come out to see if it makes sense to leave my job or work full time.

Would you give up some personal freedom for great pay and benefits? How would you make extra money if you lost part of your income?



About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.


  1. There’s no reason you can’t have both. Why not just work full time for a few more years and then call it quits when you’re good and ready?

    • I would do that in a heartbeat if my kid was a bit older or younger. She is at the perfect age where it makes sence for me to be home more. I still might take the job with a two to five year timeline. I can’t see myself working full time longer than that unless I really do love it.

    • I agree with MMD – I think you could try to do both at the same time for a while. No reason to jump the gun unless you find something you really love.

  2. Whatever your decision Kim, it should be the better one or you should embrace it wholeheartedly. Given that both offer advantages, just weigh which one you prefer. Good luck!

    • Jayson, it is a very difficult decision. I am certainly looking at all the pros and cons and trying to make the best decision.

  3. That is definitely a tough decision Kim. Personally speaking, I’d find it hard to give up the freedom and flexibility of working when you want. There can’t be a price tag to be put on that in my opinion. However, those benefits are pretty sweet, plus you enjoy the work environment – which there is also something to be said about that. Like MMD said, is there a way you can see doing both for a few more years?

    • Yes, I could totally give it five years and walk away. That might be my choice if I can’t add some hours at my other jobs.

  4. It would be tough for me to give up my freedom at this point. The ability to do what I want when I want has me spoiled. I can see why you would though- sounds like a sweet government gig!

  5. That’s a tough question to answer and it’s obviously something you and your family need to work out, and it’s dependent on everyone’s unique situation. For me, if I liked the job I would, but that’s because I’m a bit behind where I “need to be. But after reading your post and hearing your voice between the lines, I’m guessing you are leaning towards keeping your freedom if you can.

    • If I can find a way to make it work that would be my preference, at least for a couple of years until my daughter doesn’t need me around as much. If I can’t make up some of the income, though, I might have to take the job.

  6. Even though I worked for a university, my job was a “state” job. There were a lot of perks and benefits that I enjoyed for a long time-but now that I’ve chosen freedom I’ll never go back. This one is a tough decision.

  7. I have faced this dilemma a few times over the last two years of self-employment. There are times when a secure job with benefits sounds like a dream, but I do struggle with the lack of freedom. I usually take my cue, though, from various signs as to which direction I should head. Typically when I am faced with this dilemma, a number of new clients or opportunities in my business present themselves and I take that as my answer to continue on the path I’m on. Until I have a seriously compelling full-time position, I plan to stick to this path.

    • I am in the process of speaking to my other employers to see what possibilities might exist to replace some of my lost income if I don’t take this job. I’m hoping the correct choice will become obvious as I move along.

  8. I know I’m oversimplifying this, but I think the government job is almost a no-brainer. I barely even had to think about it after you shared the facts. Then again, where I’m at in life I am very dedicated to giving up some freedom now to have more freedom later. I want to set us up for financial success when we have a family so I’m 100% into improving my career (including getting my MBA & CPA nights & weekends) as well as sinking as much time as I can into my side hustle & DIY real estate to save money & increase income. So It’s easy for me to say the government job is the way to go because I wouldn’t even hesitate to take it!

    • If this had happened a few years ago or even a few years in the future, I think it would be a no brainer, but I am at the perfect time where my kid is fun to hang out with and actually wants to have me around. I’d hate to miss the window we have now. She will be a moody teenager before I know it, so I don’t want to give up this time. That being said, taking a big pay cut would not allow us to do some of the things we do now, so it’s certainly a tough call.

  9. A tough decision, Kim. I’m glad you have some time to think through your options versus have to make a very speedy decision. I absolutely understand your desire to maintain your freedom – like you said – right now is almost perfect. 🙂 What I would consider is – A) How easily would be you be able to find a similar position part-time position? B) Would the additional benefits of the full-time job put you in a position to retire sooner than planned or reach other important goals more quickly? (i.e. like buy another rental property which could help you reach retirement sooner and provide income too). Those answers and how they rank in importance to you should hopefully give you some clarity.

    • I am researching A right now. B would be kind of a wash. It might mean having a little more income because I won’t be paying for insurance, etc, but I’m on a ten year plan anyway, so I’m not sure the government job would escalate that tremendously.

  10. A good problem to have, but a tough one nonetheless. I know a couple of friends who are VA optometrists and they love it. They don’t see themselves ever leaving their jobs. The benefits are really nice like you mentioned and you still get the ability to take a good number of days off. The TSP is also a really good plan from what I’ve heard.

    I would take the government job, but I do value job stability a little more than most people. Best of luck in your decision. I think you’ll be happy either way.

    • Thanks Syed. I think VA and IHS are two of the few places where OD’s have parity with MD’s and everyone works together for the most part. At least that has been my experience. It feels like being at the top of my game.

  11. I would say, if those are your only two options, to take the government job. You are in a position where you can work full time at a job you actually LIKE, and the freedom that you give up now can buy you more freedom down the line. Most people would kill for an ENJOYABLE full time job.

    That said, I would try to see if you can replace the government job with more hours at the other two offices or replace the government job with another one altogether.

    I don’t know your hours, but remember that if you take a full time job, you will presumably have off on weekends. Your child’s school is presumably closed on weekends as well. So the full time job preventing you from spending time with your daughter may not be as big of an issue as you think. Even something like taking off for a school trip can easily be done, since I’m sure you would know about these things well in advance and can notify your employer that you need the day off.

    I would say that taking the full time job is the best way to go if those options are your only two. Remember that the loss of freedom is only temporary. And if your time is already split between three separate part time jobs, then you aren’t completely free anyways. This buys you early retirement faster, so the question is: Does the full time job really give you less freedom, or MORE?

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

    • Thanks for the well thought out comment. I am certainly weighing all my options and hoping the clear winner will emerge soon.

  12. Government benefits sound pretty good — as does the matching contribution. But it sounds like you value freedom over money. Yeah, turning this down would mean you retire later. On the other hand, that’s less of a big deal if you’re not constantly overworked as it is.

    In the end, only you can decide. But based on the priorities you’ve described, it seems like the best choice for you is to look elsewhere.

  13. If I knew I would be okay financially I would give up the government job. First of all, I’m just not a government employee. No way. No how. I would lose my mind trying to conform to all their rules. Second, freedom and flexibility are my goal not money.

  14. Oh boy! I find myself thinking, “Go for the government job!” You might find that the 40-hour work weeks actually end up not being a huge difference from what you’re doing now with the occasional hassles that are involved in your current work situation. And you’ll reach the point of financial independence earlier. Also, your daughter is past the young child stage. But hey, you are in the very fortunate position of being in a win-win situation. I’m sure you’ll make the right choice : )

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