Today I found out that I may have to take up to a 20% pay cut at my day job.

Pretty alarming news, when you think about it. Losing even part of your paycheck elicits feelings of instant panic and doubt about the future, unless you put things in the proper perspective.

Initially, I worried about what losing one fifth of my paycheck would mean to my family. Then I started to look for the silver lining in the dark cloud. I was able to find two reasons to maintain my calm and see the positive in the situation.

First, it hasn’t happened yet, and there is no guarantee that it will. In spite of my own skepticism (which tells me it’s not only very likely, but also possibly the tip of a really bad economic iceberg), the fact is that it hasn’t happened. Yet. That’s a good thing.

Second, since the pay cut in question would consist of leave without pay, it means that I would get to stay home from work. I’d lose the paycheck for the days I miss, but I would gain the time. That’s huge.

Think about the math for a moment.

24 hours per day.

7 days per week.

24 x 7 = 168 hours per week.

I spend roughly ten hours per day on work days away from home, which includes my commute.

So, 10 hours x 5 days per work week = 50 hours per week time away from home.

If I get about 7 hours of sleep per night, that’s 49 hours per week.

Then, 168 total hours per week, minus 49 hours sleep, minus 50 hours working/commuting, = 69 hours per week to spend with my family. Let’s round that up to seventy.

So if I get furloughed one day per week, that works out to an extra ten hours per week that I’ll have for my family, my writing, naps, exercise – you name it.

10 hours is one seventh of my current free time (70 hours); which means a furlough would increase my time by more than 14 percent!

What could I do with 14 percent more time?

What could you do with it?

Like so many things in life, bad news is often a matter of perspective. If I only allow myself to look at things from a payroll perspective, a 20% pay cut could look like a disaster. If I look at it from an opportunity perspective, it begins to look like I’m getting a time raise – for a price, yes, but because I value my time highly, the price in this case begins to look like a good deal.

From an opportunity perspective, a partial furlough is exactly what I need to work on my own business; to work on my writing, my website, to learn new skills that will help me to stop looking at my life from a payroll perspective – permanently.

I can wait around hoping for someone to return my lost pay, or I can seize the unexpected time raise – and make something great out of it.

The right perspective turns disaster into opportunity.