The third measure: going half-time

Over the last month, Jason and I have been have some serious discussions about that elusive work/life health/paying the bills balance. After the scare of going on sick leave in April/May and months of making a concerted effort to take my health into our hands, I’m actually in a better place with my arthritis than I have been in years. Twelve years, if fact. My rheumatologist has declared me in temporary remission. My naturalpath is tickled with my progress. My husband and family doc are cautiously optimistic. But they are also all worried that if I go back to full time teaching in the fall, I’ll be back on sick leave before too long.

Me, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made… I’m only one medication, for heavens sake! Yippee! But also know that I have a ways to go. I need to manage stress better, and heck, simplify my life. I also need to exercise regularly and spend more time with my hubby. Over the summer, I was very worried about not only going on sick leave again, but rather, losing this precious ground of remission… And not getting it back.

Enter the “third metric” coined by the folks at HuffPost. The idea is a redefinition of what matters in life.Not money or power, the traditional measurements of success. But quality of life.

The current, male-dominated model of success — which equates success with burnout, sleep deprivation, and driving ourselves into the ground — isn’t working for women, and it’s not working for men, either. …”The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power,” (focuses on) redefining success to include well-being, wisdom, our ability to wonder and our ability to make a difference in the world …how we can chart a course to a new, more humane, more sustainable definition of success — for women and for men.

I think Jason and I really adopted this quality-of-life approach when we decided to move to the Okanagan instead of fast-paced Calgary, for lifestyle and value reasons. But major decisions like moving to halftime work and obstacles like disease really make you reexamine what is most important, and what you can do without.

The apparently obvious choice of moving to half-time work isn’t so easy, because the reality is that my husband works as a loccum vet, a contract saver-of-animals, of sorts. He has waxing and waining income, typical of the professional self-employed. On top of that, we’re opening our own clinic in April, and then he might not have much of an income at all. I’ve been the regular breadwinner for the last couple years. AND, if our adoption pans out, my current salary determines how much support we would get during parental leave, as well. So I wanted to go halftime, and stay in remission, but our finances “as is” wouldn’t allow it.

This is the second part of the third measure. I’m a business prof, and I know what you measure is what gets prioritized, budgeted for, and done. So we decided to revise our budget around health. We asked ourselves… What kind of work could I do that has less stress, a flexible schedule, and no travel? What things are we wasting money on? IF I had more time, where could we save disposable income? Which fixed costs aren’t as fixed as we think?

After much contemplation and budget finessing, we decided I should move to half-time teaching, quarter-time expand our family business, Africa Sleeps, and quarter-time “save money,” ie: bake bread, make cleaning products from scratch, etc.

It’s going to be a big shift… Starting already! And I hope I can make it work. (Everybody buy our new Africa Sleeps products when they come out!! Lol) I guess you’ll all find out when I ever return to full time work in January, or stay half time!

PS: Would anybody be interested in how we are cutting costs? Is that blog-worthy?

making homemade French toast muffins from leftover bread…

12 thoughts on “The third measure: going half-time

  1. Good for you! I really admire your willingness to take that leap! I have been trying to finesse our budget too as I really balk at the social structures we fall into! Not needing bigger, better, faster and definitely wanting to balance qualityof life with earning enough to pay the bills! Would love to hear how you finesse your budget! I often wonder, is it worth extending our mortgage, would I be miseable if I sacrificed my gym membership, etc. All the best on your continued journey to wellness!
    Tracey Hedges

  2. Hi Arnica! Great post, and I’m super interested to hear how you manage this transition. We’re also talking about how to manage these challenges since I’m currently un/ self-employed, and looking into what I’ll do, for how much time, etc. Any details will be read with interest 🙂

  3. Good for you! Would love to hear more about the budget side of things. What I have found is that you live to your earnings; i.e. if you earn more, you spend more. As my income went up over the years of climbing the corporate ladder, we didn’t seem to be saving any money. When we decided to start saving for an 8-month trip around the world (with 3 kids), we scrimped and saved, cut out all kinds of things we thought were necessities, and truth be told, our quality of life didn’t really change. Now we’re on the trip and it’s been a wonderful experience so far (full of lots of challenges of course; but overall life changing). I think anything is possible with focus!

    • I think a lot of it is figuring out what is most important to us, and focussing on that. Can’t wait to read about your adventures, Gloria!

  4. I would also like to read about how you adjusred your budget. I came to the same realization myself 15 yrs ago, deciding that the stress involved in earning $70K in the IT field was literally killing me. I walked away and went to massage school, and now I don’t even earn what I used to pay in income tax, but my life is 1000% better. I realized that i only started really living when I left that soul sucking job. When you think about it, a lot of the money we think we need to earn is used to make us feel better from how sick the work is making us. Hope it works out just the way you want it.


  5. Hey Arnica, yes I’d be happy to hear about your budget saving techniques. Of course I’d be happy to share mine with you as well. We went to one income when the boys came home 5+ years ago and now we have our wee Eva in the mix. I am a very thrifty gal and can make a dollar stretch well for sure. We still are able to travel and enjoy a good (boxed) wine. No one are hurting for anything (although my hair could certainly use a good cut from a quality hair dresser). It’s all doable. Rob and I stopped chasing after “it all” when we got it all in our family. And we have never been happier. I know you will make a success of this.

  6. Same here Arnica! We are evaluating our priorities and everything is forcing us to live a simpler life! I am canning, baking, etc. I have always made our meals from scratch as I love to cook. There only seems to be part time work here and we need to stay here. So sharing frugal ideas is very welcome! So glad you are well, think of you often!

    • Funny how our lives separated when I moved six years ago, but we still end up in some of the same places! I still enjoy teaching but I find the pace of four classes to be just unforgiving when I get sick. And I have to say that when you use your brain all day, the hands on home making ends gardening is a welcome change of pace. I need both, I think! The brainwork and the physical work.

  7. Hi Arnica – great post! When our daughter came home we made the choice that I would quit full time work, and make whatever sacrifices necessary to compensate for the loss of income. That was 15 years ago, and I know it was the best choice…not always easy, but definitely better. Opportunities will come your way, as they did for me, that reinforce your choice, and it all becomes crystal clear that this is your destiny. We have been through some very tough financial times, but through it all, we have been able to be there for our kids, and I certainly never regret leaving the big corporate world for the not-for-profit world.

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