How I Stayed Zen In The Face Of Pay Cuts

Written by Heng Xuan Teo
3 mins read
Published on Jan 24, 2021

TLDR: When faced with unexpected financial hardship… see things as they truly are, ask yourself ‘so what’, and live within your means.

‘At least you still have a job okay.’ 

The usual reply I received when speaking of pay cuts. Though the replies have compassionate intentions, it often falls short of comfort. In the loud narrative of ‘up skill, up skill, up skill’, these are 3 ways of how I stayed Zen in the face of pay cuts. 

See things as they truly are 

When I first received news of the pay cut, it caught me off guard. I thought that business was going well. I felt that it was ‘unnecessary’ to do so and that I and my peers were ‘victims’. To us, our pay was already low, hence getting pay cuts was a crazy possibility. The gap between perception and reality is where suffering arose. 

Seeing these thoughts in my head, I recalled the term ‘Seeing things as they truly are’. This meant reframing the way we look at reality. This shifts our perspective away from ourselves and to the bigger picture.  

We distance ourselves from the negativity by removing the ‘I’ & ‘my’ & ‘me’. This prevents us from cycling around the stories born of our perception. Through this thought exercise, we find our calm and have a clearer view of reality.

Asking ‘so what’ rather than ‘why me’? 

It takes great effort to remove the ‘I’ & ‘my’ & ‘me’ from your thoughts. Hence, this step is another useful tool for staying Zen. As my mind played out many crazy scenarios of the pay cut, a thought bubbled up…’so what?’.  

That cut through all the self-victimization. It made me pause to count my blessings. Asking ‘so what’ places you mind to see the possibilities that one can undertake, it widens your mind. Counting blessings and seeing possibilities is one crucial way to uplift your spirits. This redirects your emotions into creating something new. 

My inspiring friends who had a job and pay cuts took the path of ‘so what’. They started selling masks and even durian to generate a new income source. By directing energy away from ‘why me’, they found possibilities to not only remain Zen but also thrive. 

Finding the essential 

“But I am super not creative or enterprising” could be a reply to talk of entrepreneurship. If you feel now is not the right time to increase income, that’s fine. This last tip helps you remain calm by finding the essential in your sea of expenses. 

Having pay cuts challenges you to live and be content with less. Being a finance nerd, I started to look at all my expenses after my pay cut. Asking myself, what is essential to my welfare and happiness?  

Asking these questions in front of your spreadsheet may seem mad, but this is crucial to reaching essentialism. Through this expense cutting, I realised I could do away with certain expenses I used to deem as essential. Essentialism by Greg Mckeown talks about changing the mental statements you make to arrive at what is essential.

Non-Essenüalist 
"l have to" 
"It's all important " 
"l can do both" 
Essenüalist 
"l choose to" 
"Only a few things really matter" 
"l can do anything but not everything"

By directing your energy towards finding the essential, you avoid spiraling into monetary stress. You also find that you can live on less. This slowly builds you up to pursue a life of essentialism and keeps your precious Zen-ness (calm). 

Summary 

These are little tools I found useful in my journey, I hope you find them useful in these difficult times.  

A key takeaway is that when negative thoughts do arise, don’t just indulge them or push them away. Rather than blindly being led by them, question them. Ask yourself why you feel shame or self-doubt. Learn from it. Use your emotions to your benefit. 

Stay calm. Stay zen!


Wise Steps:

  • When faced with unexpected financial difficulties, ask yourself “So What?”, this brings about new perspectives
  • Find an open window of time to cut down on spending that no longer serves you beneficially. Reset & Rethink!

 

What are your thoughts?

Loading spinner
Data driven nerd who you may find hanging out more at libraries than at parties. Passionate about finding different ways to not fall asleep during meditation. A borderline social media luddite.
Data driven nerd who you may find hanging out more at libraries than at parties. Passionate about finding different ways to not fall asleep during meditation. A borderline social media luddite.

Like the Content?

Help fund the operating costs of this site to keep these articles free for all.