Christmas is here. We have 11 days left in 2016 before starting a fresh new year. We will have a clean slate comprised of 365 days to do things better – learn from the mistakes we made in 2016 and improve those actions in 2017.
I am well aware that the whole “New Year, new life” mindset is actually a myth. January 1 will be just another usual day in our lives. However, I do believe in the spirit of renovation and what it can do for us. After all, change only depends on us. And if this spirit inspires us to change somehow, then anything can happen – we just need to believe and act upon it. And since change can start from every one of us, I also believe we can make the world a better place too.
In my last 2016 post – this is my fourth end-of-the-year blog post, which also something to reflect upon –, I would like to point some things we, translators, can change in the next year to become a better person and translator. Let’s start applying the change we want to see in the world to our lives?
Less negativity, more positivity
This may be the most common New Year resolution, but that is because it is valid every year. The world is full of sad news and horrible people. And that will hardly change overnight. Actually, it may never change. However, what good does it bring if we just complain about it? Quite the opposite: it only makes things even worse.
Instead of complaining about rates, agencies, clients, how about stressing the perks in translation? Stop posting about translation mistakes and start recognizing the amazing job of a fellow colleague. Stop complaining about horrible clients and start praising a client who values professional translators. Stop posting poor memes of translators working overnight, on weekends and holidays and glorifying it, and start spreading tips for a quality work-life balance. Simply stop sharing bad news and start sharing good news. If you do not have anything good to share, simply do not share anything at all. And this can be applied both online and offline.
Less complaining, more doing
When I was a university student, I used to call my mom, crying, complaining about how things were difficult. She would say, every single time, “That’s the life you chose for yourself. You wanted that, now you have it. Do you want to come back home? No? So deal with it. Do you want to quit? No? Then deal with it. You are the only person who can sort things out.” Some will think she was a hard mom. That was what I thought back then. After all, all I wanted was a shoulder to cry on. However, after hanging up the phone, I would wipe my tears off, take a deep breath and take the bull by the horns. Maybe, if she did give me what I was looking for, I would not have the courage to face my problems and would be a whiny adult waiting for things to get better on their own.
What does this have to do with what we are talking about? Complaining, whining and crying do not lead us anywhere. Having the guts to face our problems will. And this applies to anything in life.
That client does not pay well or is not worth it? Raise your rates to whatever suits you, start prospecting with the adjusted rate and fire that old client. That colleague pisses you off every time he/she posts something online? Unfollow him/her. You are tired of working non-stop, with clients contacting you at any time of the day, any day of the week? Determine your working hours, notify your clients about it, display it on your social media channels, website and e-mail signature, and try to stick to it.
How about joining the first point to this one and, whenever you feel like complaining about something, think twice and see if you can do the opposite: try to take something from it and focus on it.
Less work, more productivity
It is a funny thing how translators pride themselves at working practically non-stop – weekends, holidays, overnight; with no vacation for [fill in time here] long years; only sleeping for [fill in time here] hours. I admit I will never understand the logic behind it.
Do not get me wrong. I have already worked under those circumstances – and in all of them at once – in my early beginning. However, I never thought it was something to be proud of. So much so that I learned with my mistakes – as I usually do – and changed. And I do rarely work (but only part time) on the weekend or on a holiday or until later (but definitely not overnight), if necessary. But those are exceptions, and that is fine.
The problem is we usually procrastinate a lot and/or do other things rather than translate and then we have to work more time to deliver an assignment on time. It is possible to work less (time) and produce more. All it takes is discipline, organization and determination. Do you want to work only 6 hours per day? Do it. Yes, you can! Leave social media, personal e-mails, Skype chats, whatever non-work-related tasks for before and/or after your working hours, and set up a fixed day of the week and time for other professional tasks, such as invoicing and marketing. And translate like crazy in those 6 hours. You will see time will fly and your productivity will really increase.
Your translation quality highly depends on it. Lack of sleep, for example, interferes with your thinking capacity, as does working for long hours and multitasking. Focus is the new black.
Less anything bad, more quality of life
If you apply the tips mentioned above, you will already have a better quality of life and more time on your hands to take up on other activities to improve it even more. More positivity means you will also be more positive towards yourself and your life. More doing means you will focus on increasingly improving personally and professionally. More productivity means more quality = more translations = more clients = more reliability = increased rates = professional fulfillment – not exactly in this order. It is a vicious circle of only good things.
Use the time left to exercise, take a CPD course/webinar, meditate, go to the movies, go out for a coffee/beer with colleagues/friends, sleep, you name it – whatever you feel like doing. Do not forget to eat well and take regular breaks throughout your working hours.
What is the point in working your health off and then spending money with doctors, or being unable to work for being sick in bed because your immunity is low for working too much, or getting burned out?
I saw someone post on social media this week, asking for tips on books or anything that could help her stop procrastinating. Books, blog posts, magazine articles, friend’s advice, nothing will work if you are not willing to change. Even this blog post will be in vain if you think it, by itself, will solve all your problems. As I said at the beginning of this post: change starts with us.
So, what do you say? Let’s do this, together?
Meanwhile, I wish you all a merry and joyful Christmas, and an inspiring and happy New Year!