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Work Less, Live More-Transition to Part Time Work

transition to part time workAfter 12 years of living to work, I have moved into part time hours. If you are old enough to remember Prince circa the Purple Rain era, the intro to Let’s Go Crazy is a perfect description.

A World of Never Ending Happiness, You Can Always See the Sun, Day or Night”

Well, that might be a bit dramatic. Five years ago, if asked where I’d be now, I would have said in the same place, watching the years tick by, having brief weekend respites, and working myself into complete burn out. Priorities changed, and now I’m in a much better place. Working less means having more time to do things I love, but be lying if I told you that it has been completely smooth. If you are considering the move to part time or, even better, leaving a traditional job, here a few things to consider.

Change Can Be Great

When I graduated from optometry school in 1999, I assumed I’d follow the path of virtually everyone I knew by getting a job and working until in my sixties or beyond. I set out to get hired, worked for a couple of years, then bought a practice. If you are thinking about running your own business, it can be a wonderful thing, but it takes a huge portion of your life.

After my daughter was born in 2007, it killed me to spend so much time at work. I spent three days a week at the main office, always until  7PM at least one night a week. For the satellite office, I drove 70 miles one way over a mountain pass twice a week. I would leave before daylight and get home after dark for most of the year. I was exhausted at the end of the day. I left a sick child in the care of others many times because it’s very hard to cancel a whole day of patients. I grew to loathe household chores. Our debts went through the roof, maybe because I didn’t have time to keep track of things. Maybe it was because I hoped things we bought might fill the void that my work schedule created. While I am grateful to have a career, I was not happy with the amount of time I had to spend away from my family. There had to be a better way.

About two years ago, I started making plans to sell my business. My practice has been very successful. 2012 was our best year ever, but that does not excite me anymore. When I found willing buyers, I knew it was time to move on. While the final sale has been challenging and won’t be finished for a few more months, both buyers are working for me until they can become the owners. Essentially, I am still in charge, but I don’t have to be in the office very much. Right now, I am averaging three days a week between both offices and my contract position at a Native American clinic. To patients, it looks like I am only working one day a week because I am only in each office for that amount of time. I’ve learned that when you don’t work a traditional schedule and you have an advanced degree, people assume you are really rich or just plain lazy.

Questions, Questions, Questions

I am fortunate to have a pretty loyal patient base. These are people that I know and remember, but don’t see often outside of their annual eye exam. When my patients make an appointment, they realize that I am only in that office once a week, and it puzzles them.They are very curious about what I do with my time.

I usually tell them I’m cutting back to spend more time with my daughter. While most see it as perfectly acceptable for ladies who don’t have formal education to stay at home, apparently it is very odd for me to do that. I get very strange looks or the wide eyed nod when I try to explain, even from stay at home moms. If I get really brave and admit that quite a bit of my free time goes into running a financial blog, you’d think I had three heads. Most people cannot grasp that there might be fulfillment or money to be made in non-traditional avenues, especially if your training is in a totally different area.

I asked an employee who works one day a week in my office and stays home the other days if she gets similar questions. She does not. I can only imagine that because my name is on the building that I’m expected to be there all the time. I also think it makes people uncomfortable that someone can actually leave a good, full time job when maybe they don’t feel able to do that themselves.

Suggestions For Those Wanting to Work Less

I honestly believe anyone can change their position if they are motivated enough. However, if you want to walk away from a sure thing, keep a few points in mind.

  • Have a Backup Plan– I still plan to work part time for three separate offices. If one of those positions falls through, I have the others as backup. We also have rental income. Don’t be in a rush and make mistakes. It took two years to orchestrate all the details to make this happen. Don’t quit your job unless you are have extensive savings, a good severance package, or the next payday lined up, preferably with multiple income streams.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Be Different– People generally don’t make plans past tomorrow. They get into debt, and have to work to pay it off. While some love working long hours, many are there just for the paycheck. If you can walk away, proving that it can be done, it makes you odd. Sadly,  many people would rather believe you inherited some money or did something illegal rather than worked hard and made plans to live on less.

Of course I could always tell people to mind their own business, but that isn’t my way. My staff and I came up with a rather funny list of things they can tell patients when asked why I’m only there once a week. So far my favorite is that I am training for the next Olympics!

Do I miss working full time and being on top of everything? Honestly, not at all, which tells me the time was certainly right. If you are considering cutting back your work schedule, it can be done, just prepare for some strange questions and get excited about being odd.

Have you ever walked away from a good paying, full time job? Am I being too sensitive, or it there a stereotype about who should stay home?

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. Doing this is tough if you have a job that gives you insurance and benefits. But, if you can find a way that allows you that kind of flexibility it will lead to more life satisfaction, for sure.

  2. I don’t know if you’re being too sensitive, but I can understand how patients who have known you for years might be confused. After all, the “usual” place to step back and go part time is the years before kids get to school, so you get the excuse of spending time with kids, plus saving on day care.

  3. I have only been working full-time for a few years now, so I can’t imagine going to part-time work. It’s awesome that you are able to sell your business and transition, though, and the rental income should help a ton. I would love to have a full-time income off of rental income, but that is much more of a long-term goal.

    Anyway very excited for you to be working part-time now!

  4. I’m on tip #2 about creating a back up plan. Thankfully I paid off all my debts last year, and am now saving up money in case I can’t make it very successfully with my part-time online business. I’m afraid to quit my FT job, since I’ve been doing it for 10 years, but it’s time to make a change and stop being such a workaholic. Thanks for sharing your story Kim. It’s nice to know there are other go-getters out there, taking action and going for it!

  5. I am with Mrs. Pop, I can understand how patients might be confused…especially if you only see them for their annual exam and have no relationship outside of that. Speaking personally, I think it’s great you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s very exciting to know the benefits you’re going to get out of this. I know that I got funny looks when I said I was leaving my job to help my wife run our business, but you have to do what’s right for you and your family.

  6. Good for you, Kim, for doing what’s best for you and your family, even if it means going against the grain. True financial freedom isn’t about money, but about being able to do what you love. :-).

  7. Great story.. back up plans are great, whether you look to drop your full time gig or using it as a side-gig. It’s great that you’re moving to your dream!

  8. I definitely want to work from home in the future. We are working on paying off our mortgage first. Then it will be much easier!

  9. I think you made a good decision. And I’m glad you have a back up plan!

  10. I think what you have done with your business and your career is absolutely wonderful!! And I can’t believe that people are so inquisitive about your life, your plans and the decisions you have made about your work and your home life.

  11. My dad also did not enjoy running the business. He’s much happier now being able to set his own hours. You are the LIVING THE DREAM, my friend 🙂

  12. I walked away from a great 9-5 job years ago after achieving financial independence. I started some businesses and sold them off and returned to work. Now I am in a profession (teaching) that I enjoy, but it feels like semi-retirement because I only work 22.5 hours a week..

  13. I walked away from my full-time job to stay home with my daughter and it is the best decision I ever made. There will always be nay-sayers and negative people who don’t understand why a parent, male or female, would choose to cut back on work and live a different life.

    • Maybe I’ll want to work more in a few years, but right now, I have been more proud of my home cooking and baking that anything I’ve done at work for a while. I can actually carpool because people can count on me and know I won’t have to work late and not be able to pick up the kids. Little things, but important ones. We only get so many years before they are grown and don’t want us around.

  14. Congratulations Kim! In an era of over consumption I understand it can come odd to some people, why would a person not want to earn more money, buy more stuff, get more debt! Great point about being different, many probably can’t conceive that someone would take a different path.

    • You are a great inspiration about living off the beaten path. I wish I’d starting making plans from day one, but better late than never.

  15. It really sounds like you are gaining a lot more out of this arrangement than you will be losing in money, and that makes this deal seem worth it. Your last tip especially about not being afraid to do things different is one of the most important ones in my opinion. You could have never told me two years ago that I’d be writing for a blog? 🙂

    • Me either. I am just beginning to see what might be possible if I put my mind to it. It could also fall right apart, but I guess I could always go back to work more if I had to.

  16. I’m so excited for you! It is a brave person who goes against the grain. Seriously, so so proud! I wish I could cheers you — but I’m doing so virtually!

  17. Jason Clayton | frugalhabits

    That’s great Kim! Best of luck as you chart a new course. I look forward to reading your posts as you transition. Do you plan to own more rental properties in the future to supplement your income?

    • We would love to have two or three more. I’m not sure how fast we can add those. It kind of depends on how fast the final sale closes and whether we want to wait for a year to make sure the new arrangement works. I’d love to have enough rental income to cover living expenses within the next ten years, which is very possible.

  18. Congratulations Kim, this is such an exciting time for you and your family! I have been blessed to be able to do what I love, but I, too, made a switch a few years back. I’d been leading financial advisors and wanted to return working 1:1 to with clients again – in the middle of the terrible recession. 😀 It was definitely a transition, but one I don’t regret. And it sounds like you did a lot of soul-searching and planning to make the best choice for you, your family and clients. Good luck!

  19. I walked away from a ton of money just because I knew I wanted to do other things. You’re making a great decision….and yes…there is a stereotype.

  20. That’s really interesting that you are experiencing that type of questioning. Are there many “lifestyle migrants” where you live? There are a reasonable number of people where I live that either only work part time, or sold up their life in the city to afford to basically stay at home and raise their kids.
    That’s pretty awesome that you’re in a position to do this 🙂 Enjoy it!

  21. Very interesting career path you have taken, I certainly admire it. You found what works for you and you’re not afraid to be different. I think sometimes people get so caught up into climbing the corporate ladder they fail to realize they actually do have choices and some are totally unconventional.

  22. When I’m working 12+ hour days, I wish I could dial it back a bit, but when I’m averaging 10, that feels like I’m working the right amount.

    • I never want 12 hour days. One of the days I work right now is 10 hours, and if you’re there 8, two more isn’t that much more. I just don’t want to be there all day, every day. It never mattered much pre-child, but now it’s very important.

      • That is exactly my sentiment regarding 10 hour days. Congradulations on being in a place financially where you can do this. My old boss has been working 10-16+ hour days for as long as she can remember and had to raise 2 kids as a single mother.

        • That would really, really stink. Although, I know some people who don’t know what to do if they aren’t working all the time.

  23. That’s an awesome position to be in Kim. I’m a business owner as well and I can totally agree with you how things can get so stressful all the time. I have a very similar plan to do exactly the same and eventually sell off my portion of the business and maybe pick up some part time hours if they need my help. When will this happen for me? I’m not really sure but I defiantly want to do it before 50 because life is just to short to spend all your time working and get no rewards.

  24. Good for you! I’m not a mom, but I would imagine it being hard to work so many long hours and run a business and raise a family. It doesn’t matter what other people think. You are doing what’s best for you!

    • I think women can do anything career wise as men, but there is just something genetic that makes it harder for moms. Mommy guilt is a powerful emotion. My husband certainly cares, but doesn’t have the guilt that I did at all.

  25. I think a lot of people are misinformed about how difficult running a business is. This is on top of what you have to do for your patients. I can fully understand why you are cutting back and I think you made an excellent choice. Best of luck Kim!

  26. Congrats Kim! I have realized working in corporate america that some people want the money and fancy title and will work themselves into the ground to get it, I prefer to think of success as having the time to live life on your own terms and working a flexible or part-time schedule in something you enjoy. Good for you, it is a goal for me one day.

  27. Good for you making the change… so many other people get greedy.

    • I am lots of things, but greedy has never been on the radar. I could be much richer if I had a little greed in there somewhere, LOL.

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