Dear Carolyn: I work a boring, demanding, but well-paying technical job. My joy and passion is my art. I make a little money selling commissions online, and I've been dying to do it full-time for years. There's a nearby shop willing to do consignments for me if I can commit to a regular schedule, which I can't while working full-time.

When my husband and I paid our house off two years ago, we talked it over and agreed if I could save a significant amount of money out of "my money" (we use a "yours, mine, and ours" system) then I could retire early and do my art full time. It took a lot of sacrifice and hustle and I'm nearing the "magic number."

Now my husband is stalling. He's pointing out all the things that could go wrong and asking me to keep working until at least age 60. I'm devastated, but I don't want to do this if he's not on board since he would be the one working full time at his equally demanding job, for health insurance and to keep paying into our retirement nest egg. Doing my art full-time would cut my salary by a factor of 10, but I've been so looking forward to this.

There's no way to cut back at my job — it's one of those all-or-nothing positions and there are plenty of people dying to take my place. Husband keeps saying, "It's only four more years," but those four years stretch out in front of me like an eternity of drudgery. What should I do?

— Don't Think I Can Take Four More Years of This

Don’t Think I Can Take Four More Years of This: I first answered this question in January 2020, before All the Things went wrong.

My current answer is the same — to look into stable part-time work, ideally with benefits, which is rare but does exist. Only now it comes with the caveat that your “significant amount of money” meet a post-2020 definition of “significant” instead of a pre-2020 definition.

The past year has underscored the life-is-short aspect of your decision, too, though — so although the need for a secure source of income and benefits may be paramount, at least for a while, it’s also reasonable to talk to your husband about what kind of life you’re both working so hard to live. Maybe you can meet him partway, or maybe he can look for ways to make his employment less demanding. Burning one of you out isn’t the answer, either.

If nothing else, part-time work would leave a lot more hours for your art than you have now, but would also provide at least a “things go wrong” safety net so your husband doesn’t have to lie awake in what-if terror. At least the same degree of it.

Re: Drudgery: Register with a temp agency. Many of those jobs are administrative in nature, so more likely to be at a desk, and you can turn down assignments. Or you can work a three-month gig, save the money, then spend two months with no gigs and focus solely on your art.

— Anonymous

Anonymous: I’m sure demand is haywire with the pandemic, but still a solid idea, thanks.

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