Letter: Work or family

Sir: Last year, I gave up a well-paid full-time job with a large manufacturing company. Working long hours was expected, and people were expendable. I was beginning to hate both my job and the company. I am now self-employed and work three days a week for a consultancy company.

I have no children but I do have elderly parents. I wanted to be here for them, to reduce my stress levels and to get a life. I chose to give up a good pension, a guaranteed regular income, paid holidays and sick leave.

I have gained time; time to spend with my parents; time to see friends more often than once in six months; time to stop and talk with neighbours rather than a greeting in passing; time to do simple things like exploring local antique shops on quiet days mid-week, reading the papers in the garden on a sunny day, leaving the washing until tomorrow because I'm not working tomorrow. I'm healthier, calmer and much more appreciative of the things that really matter in my life.

There is no magic secret - it is just a question of redefining your priorities and being honest about exactly what you want from life. If your priority is to be the next Richard Branson - good luck to you! Somebody has to do it, but it won't be me.


Driffield, East Yorkshire