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?



Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Snipon.com.


  1. 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 : )

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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

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

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