As many of you already know, I love working part-time. Working part-time has allowed me to completely recover from burnout, take care of my mental health, and pursue creative projects. Now, I see work (on my terms) as a meaningful and integral part of my ideal life.
Because of my passion for part-time work, I’m always on the lookout for others who have decided to downshift and work part-time.
A few months ago, I met Bradley (a non-blogger). He has a fascinating story. About 4 years ago when his daughter was born, he decided to take a 50% pay cut to work part-time.
If you are like me, you usually hear stories about women downshifting at this point in their lives. It’s rare to hear about men doing the same. This is why I’m so excited to share this story.
Bradley originally thought that this decision to work part-time would delay their FI timeline by about 5 years.
The reality of what happened is much different (and better) than expected.
Let’s get into the interview.
1. Tell me a little bit about you.
My name is Bradley, I’m a self-described awesome dad and a pretty good husband. I am also a big fan of designing a life that aligns with my values.
For my career, I am a Salesforce Consultant. I will be honest, I don’t love my job. At the same time, I am passionate about helping others see what an amazing career path this can be. This career path can provide the opportunity to earn a high income while working part-time and providing an exceptional lifestyle. I can’t think of another job I’d prefer to be doing.
I do enjoy slowly growing my consulting business. I love figuring out ways to grow the business without needing to work more hours. It’s sort of like a game. I pull different levers and try different approaches to create the balance I’m looking for.
Right now, I work part-time from 8-12 each day. This leaves the rest of the day open for family and provides me time to try new ideas to grow my company. Recently, due to COVID-19 and high unemployment rates, I’ve started using extra bandwidth to ramp up my Facebook Page and YouTube channel. This allows me to help others start careers in Salesforce. I’m happy to be able to provide hope for people in what may seem like a hopeless time.
I am currently 30 years old and happily married to my wife Ashley for what is unbelievably already 7+ years. We have the most amazing 3-year-old daughter, Miss Evelyn Kate. We enjoy the outdoors, biking, riding our electric scooter around town, swimming, and some backyard gardening.
We also enjoy slow travel from time to time when we’re feeling up to it. This recently resulted in a 3 month RV trip and a 5 week trip to Europe where we narrowly missed flight restrictions due to the pandemic which would have kept us from getting home… phew!
Our current goal is to reach Financial Independence by 37. We have no real reason to accomplish that goal so quickly, other than we don’t know what the future holds. We’ve built a life we love and as long as saving for FI doesn’t impact our quality of life, we may as well keep saving. Saving for FI prepares us for almost anything.
2. A few years ago, you decided to work part-time. What was your motivation for this decision?
In 2016, my wife and I found out that we were pregnant. We were excited about this new development and knew this would change our lives significantly. We wanted to give 100% to parenting. We didn’t know exactly what that looked like, but for us, we knew it didn’t involve working 40+ hours per week and only seeing our daughter during the evenings and on weekends.
At this point, we were already living off my income alone. We had purposely kept expenses low to develop a high savings rate that allowed my wife the opportunity to stay home with our daughter if she chose that route. We weren’t exactly sure what would change, but we wanted to make sure we had options available.
My wife is a speech-language pathologist by trade for our county school system. She had summers off and decided to take the full fall semester off after our daughter was born. This provided us with plenty of time to decide if she wanted to go back to work in January. By the end of her leave, we realized that we were already settled into what would be our new lives. Ashley would stay home and take care of our little angel, and I would keep working full-time (from home).
It didn’t take long for us to realize that there was something seriously off. If I was working all day, that would leave me with just enough time to put our daughter to bed after a quick dinner. Basically, I would be out of the picture except for weekends.
We didn’t like this solution. I was working all day to provide and would barely see my daughter. To me, that didn’t feel like 100% parenting or anything close to it.
Luckily, we realized this before she was born, which meant we didn’t have to learn the hard way.
When our little girl was born, we deliberately decided to put our FI journey on hold until she was old enough to go to kindergarten. I found a position with a local company where I started working part-time from 8 am to 12 pm each day. Choosing to work part-time meant that I made half as much money. This was just enough to pay our bills and save a little for retirement.
Our FI journey was taking a backseat and we were okay with that. We felt that this time with our daughter was considerably more important than early retirement.
3. How has working fewer hours impacted your quality of life?
Working part-time has been a complete game-changer. I worked full-time before my daughter was born and part-time after she was born. I haven’t experienced a world where I’m not spending at least 7-10 waking hours with her each day, and I hope I never experience that world.
I can imagine that it would have felt devastating as I watched her life pass me by as I worked to provide. I suppose I would have adapted and, one day, woke up one morning with a 14-year-old daughter wondering where all the time went. I am beyond blessed to tell a much happier story.
I feel so lucky that I get to replace the time I used to work with spending time with Evelyn. I love having time and energy to be patient and treat my daughter like a true member of our family, not just a “kid”.
I can also now imagine a world where my daughter is in school, and I’m left bored at home every day at noon figuring out what I’m going to do until I get to go pick her up. That sounds like a problem I’m fortunate to have. I have no doubt I will be pouring that energy into expanding the business in generous and maybe profitable ways. If my priorities shift, I may find some hobbies to keep me busy. Either way, it’s a future that gives me options to move in any direction I choose.
Another benefit we enjoy is the ability to travel freely when we feel the desire to. We have the freedom to do projects around the house and not feel pressured to get back to work. I can’t speak more highly of the mental clarity that comes with knowing tomorrow is just a quick morning at work with a full day of possibility after lunch!
4. How did your decision to work less impact your financial goals or timelines?
Originally we thought that this decision would extend our early retirement date by roughly 5 years. In reality, that has not been the case.
Now that I’m working part-time, I realize that I now have the mental bandwidth to think about work in a more leisurely way. This has allowed me to be much more creative and intentional about how I work.
For example, I discovered free browser extensions built specifically to make Salesforce consultants more productive. These were tools that I never had the time to discover in the past as I was too busy just getting through the day.
I now have the flexibility to put a few hours of studying each week. This enabled me to get Salesforce Certifications. These certifications made me more marketable and result in higher pay from clients.
I also gained the mental clarity to define a place for technology in my life. This resulted in a lot of deleted apps, silenced notifications, and keeping my phone out of sight while I’m working. These practices led to even more efficient use of my time. This allowed me to learn to be even more productive, getting more work done in less time.
I’m now working fewer hours (15-20 hours/week), and I am making a higher income than ever before. Not only have we not extended our FI date by 5 years, but we’ve also actually cut 2 years off our timeline. If someone had told me that was possible a few years ago, I would not have believed them!
5. What factors enabled you to switch to part-time work?
My career in Salesforce is a huge part of what allowed me to design my life. I’m a huge advocate of others learning to use Salesforce as an avenue to make more money, work fewer hours, and work remotely.
Salesforce has allowed me to work part-time for the past 3 years while still averaging an income of over $150,000/year. The benefits are not just financial. The work itself is challenging which keeps me mentally busy and productive.
It’s also interesting to work with businesses across the globe, learn their processes, and help them to optimize those processes. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people, learn plenty of lessons, challenge myself, and grow as a person all while supporting my family and building a lifestyle we can enjoy.
I know for certain I never would have considered part-time work as an option if it hadn’t been for my daughter being born and driving me to think critically and creatively about whether or not I was happy with the balance of commitments in my life.
Making decisions like this can be difficult due to social and financial pressures. To many, it seems like a poor financial decision. Society tells me I’m lazy, less of a provider, and entitled. I sometimes also feel alienated from my coworkers, friends, and family who work full-time.
Luckily, the love I have for my family and my personal confidence gives me the power to ignore these pressures. I know I’m doing what is right for those closest to me.
6. Were there things in your life you adapted so you could continue to work toward your goals?
There were a number of things that I adapted to make this work.
First, I know that I am most productive in the morning, so I would schedule my work in those hours. It’s harder to focus in the afternoon, so I didn’t want to work only those hours.
Since I work remotely, it was important for me to create a physical space away from family activities, so that I could separate from distractions that might cause me to lose efficiency. Luckily, I also have a wonderful wife who fully understands this need as well.
The last major adjustment was that I needed to become more intentional about how I work, what I work on, and who I work for. I wanted to limit my hours, so I couldn’t do anything that came my way.
I used to accept projects even if I didn’t know how to do the work. This would result in wasting time stumbling through and doing research. Now, I simply accept projects that I’m already qualified for. This is less stressful and more enjoyable.
I used to accept work with tight deadlines and work over the weekend. Now, I decline projects where the deadlines are too tight. I’m choosing to work part-time not only for myself but also for my family.
My vision is not to be a stressed-out workaholic. It’s to be a father, husband, and provider. I can do all of those things without taking on extra work. I now have a clear picture of the value of money and time, and I want to align them both with my values.
These seemingly minor changes allowed me to increase my income and work fewer hours, so I can spend time on what I truly value.
7. Why and when do you think someone might consider “downshifting?”
I would advise downshifting if you are able to save 50% of your income and you are feeling unhappy with your job. On the other hand, if you are happy and able to spend time doing what you value, then there is no reason to downshift.
If you ever feel like you are just waiting for your FI date to arrive and pushing through life is a struggle, I would advise you to downshift as soon as possible. Make a strategy to work less and live more.
I reflected on what my dream was for early retirement. I slowly tried to fill my day with these things. An interesting thing happened. I began to realize that I was able to live my dream today. I didn’t need to wait.
Now that I work part-time, work has started to feel more like a hobby. It’s something I do to remain productive rather than feeling like it’s a job or an obligation. I’ve realized that work will always be part of my life.
8. How did your pursuit of FI help or hinder your decision to reduce your work hours?
The pursuit of FI both helped and hindered this decision.
For years, I had been telling myself that I needed to make as much money as possible so that I could save as much as possible. I knew I wanted to spend more time with my daughter, but the pursuit of FI made the transition challenging.
I had built a paradigm for myself that told me that I should work and save now and enjoy the benefits later. Given the new circumstances, this paradigm needed to be reevaluated.
I have a logical mind, so I went through the process of mapping out each hour of my day. Then, I calculated some statistics around how much time I would spend with my daughter between birth and age 12.
My findings were shocking!
Once I did this analysis, I got to the point where part-time work began to feel like such a big loss of time that full-time work was unthinkable.
This is how the process went.
I started with these assumptions.
- A typical workday is actually 10.5 hours because of time spent working, getting ready for work, commuting, etc.
- There are things that people have to do each day that you don’t want to do like yard work, housekeeping, grocery shopping, etc.
- We have the potential for 16 waking hours per day if we want to get enough sleep.
Based on this information, if I worked full-time, I’d have 2 hours/weekday and 12 hours per weekend day to spend with my daughter. That would be a total of 34 hours (or 30% of my waking hours).
If I worked part-time, I’d have 8.5 hours/weekday and 12 hours per weekend day. This would be a total of 66.5 hours to spend with my daughter and on other fun projects. This comes out to be 60% of my time. Once I calculated that I’d get to spend 30% more of my waking hours doing things I valued, I was convinced to make the leap.
On the other hand, our pursuit of FI helped a lot with this decision. Because I was pursuing FI, I already had good spending and savings practices in place. Without these, I would not have been able to even consider taking a 50% pay cut. Thanks to FI principles, I was able to make this tough, yet entirely possible, decision.
9. What advice do you have for someone considering a similar decision?
Think about where you are in your life and where you see yourself in the next 10 years.
- What is going on in your life right now? What do you expect to happen in the future? This will give you a guide on which years feel most important to you.
- How stressed or burned out do you feel? Can you handle this level of stress for another 10+ years? Keep in mind that working twice as much is considerably more than twice the mental and physical strain.
- If you were no longer burned out, would you want to keep working? One day, could work feel like a hobby if you only worked 4 hours/day?
For me, having 4 hours of daily free time for these few years mattered way more to me than reaching financial independence earlier.
If you have a compelling reason (such as a young child, limited time with family members or friends, working on your own passion projects, etc.), then you should strongly consider switching to part-time. If you think any of these compelling reasons may arise in the future, I’d encourage you to save now, so you can be prepared to cut back to part-time when those things become a reality.
Thank you, Bradley, for sharing your story with us!
From Bradley’s stories and so many others like it (including my own), I know that there are so many benefits to working part-time.
First and foremost, working part-time can provide you with so much more time to focus on the things that you value. For you, this could be family, friends, your mental or physical health, passions projects, volunteering, etc. There are so many options for how to use this additional time.
Second, once someone is no longer stressed and burned out, they have brain space to be more efficient, creative, and productive. I see this in Bradley’s story, and I’ve experienced this in my own life as well. For some people (Angela from Tread Lightly Retire Early and me), working less has allowed us to save more since we no longer need to pay a premium for convenience. For people like Bradley, working less has allowed him to make more money.
Getting off autopilot allowed Bradley to get really good at prioritizing the right work. It also gave him time to build up his skills and build systems that allowed him to increase his income while working fewer hours.
In this interview, Bradley talks about how society doesn’t exactly support these types of decisions. There are social pressures to conform. People think he’s lazy or entitled. He sometimes feels alienated from colleagues and friends who work full-time.
I have also felt all of these same pressures. There are so many people in my life who don’t understand why I would possibly decide to work part-time. When your definition of success revolves around your career, it’s unfathomable.
This is why it’s so important to also build a community of people who will understand our decision and cheer us on. Some people won’t ever understand, but if others do, it makes it feel easier. On the other hand, it’s important to understand our values. If we know that we value our time a lot more than what people think about us, the decision is a no-brainer.
Bradley is one of many people who have chosen to make deliberate decisions to improve their lives on their path to FI, even if it means a longer timeline. Some people decide to take a mini-retirement to travel full-time. Others decide to quit side hustles, work for only a portion of the year, or become entrepreneurs.
Like Bradley, you can design a life you love before reaching FI. There are so many options!
If you’d like to continue following Bradley’s journey, you can connect with him in the following ways: