It is that time of the year again, winter. Cold, frost, and some bites.
A funny thing seems to happen when the winter dawns upon us.
First, it get’s cold, so, we tend to talk less, and somehow this energy seeps into many aspects of our lives, including our businesses.
Those awesome business goals you set for your translation business at the beginning of September, well, they seem to freeze up as well.
Along with your workflow and effectiveness, and the big one…Motivation!
Despite global climate going into downtime, you don’t have to.
That’s not to say you can’t enjoy an extra hot cup of coffee, or curl into blankets, you can! But remember, you decided to leave your fears alone and commit to making it as a translator.
Although downtime is required for rest, letting it seep in too much, can take serious hits on your revenue, or worse, have you avoiding those important yet mundane tasks necessary for your translation business.
Grab your coffee, bundle up, and explore my 5 techniques to stay motivated during so-called rough patches, downtime, winter, and those frequent moments of self-doubt.
You are a skill and talented individual, my hope is these techniques will help you stay motivated in your translation business.
Here we go!
Translators: 5 Techniques to Stay Motivated
Stop Making Up Problems
Your motivation is primarily fueled by your state of mind. Period.
If your mind is in problem-mode, as in, it requires problems in order to feel active and alive, your motivation levels will drop, quick.
What is problem-mode? Good question.
Statements like, “I don’t have enough time”, “I can’t do this”, “I am overwhelmed”, “I don’t have all the resources”, “I have no support”,”It’s hard being me”, “I am waiting for the right time”, etc.
Oddly enough, the mind can get quite motivated when it thinks or hears these statements, because, essentially it sees the problem as a challenge. Our education system has trained us to face any challenge.
Don’t face just any challenge! Especially the ones you create for yourself by making up problems.
Do face the challenge of executing an effective marketing strategy, setting your rates, creating a schedule, branding, and refining your translation skills.
These are real tasks, they don’t bring instant self-satisfaction because you need to work on them over time in order to have results, but they are real and important!
Now, if you choose to focus on tasks instead of imagined problems, you will feel motivated! Perhaps it won’t be in a sudden outburst, but at least you will know that you are on the right track.
Nothing is true unless you believe it is. Let’s use some of the quotes from above.
“I don’t have enough time”
Actually, in a 7-day week, you have 168 weekly hours. If you calculate in 8-hours of sleep daily, that still leaves you with 112 hours. If you take out Saturday and Sunday for time off, you still have 64 active hours. That is a lot! Time is yours, not the other way around, just as long as you start pinpointing exactly what you require of your time, it will deliver.
“I am overwhelmed”
Ask yourself why. About 99.9% of people who say they are overwhelmed are either simply a) trying to look busy b) avoiding real tasks c) don’t have good time management strategies. Maybe even all three.
Guess what? Living in modern metropolitan cities is extremely overwhelming, you have 100% stimulation 24/7! But, it’s your job to be a modern person, develop strategies to stay cool, and use all the resources at your fingertips to help you do it.
The conclusion here is to stop making up problems through definitive statements, that in the short-run make you feel engaged, yet, over time, drain your motivation and give you 0 results.
The less time you spend on creating hypothetical problems for yourself, the more time, energy, and motivation you will have for actual work and tasks.
So get to it!
A Specific Ultimate Goal
How specific? Down to maybe, if you will, the shoes you will be wearing when you achieve it.
If you are a translator, you are running a business. But, there is a big spectrum, and as we all know, there are many ranges, from low (sometimes extremely low) to high.
So, ask yourself this important question over, and over, and over…and, wait for it, over, until you get a very specific response, from you.
It’s not enough to say “I want to be a freelance translator” or “I am going to run a translation business online”. That is okay to start with, but it won’t keep you motivated because there is no real reward attached to it.
Generally speaking, just translating, although very fulfilling, is not enough to keep people going, because you are a unique person and require different satisfaction endpoints and rewards to keep you motivated. You’ll need these because it might take 1-2 years before you reach your ultimate goal.
If the extent of your ultimate goal is a job title like “freelance translator” or simply “translator”, it’s time to take a seat and get specific.
Saying you want to be a freelance translator or run a business online is like saying, at some point, you’d like to play golf. It will get you nowhere, and won’t provide you with long-term motivation.
If you’d like to be a translator, ask yourself what type of translator, how much do you want to make? what sectors do you want to translate for? what is your marketing strategy? and your branding? Why do you want to do it, lifestyle, passion? Ask, make excels, write, and get to the bottom of it.
You’ll know you have reached your ultimate goal when you can sum it up in one sentence.
This can be “I want to be a ES > EN translator in legal document translations, earning $60,000 USD by December 6th, 2018″ or “I want to do FR>EN financial document translations, earning $100,000 by June 27th, 2020″.
Make sure to write, dictate, sing, or act (or all) your ultimate goal. Do anything that makes it come alive, put it into action!
Once you have it, don’t just fantasize about it.
Set aside a full-work day, or two, to write out your 3 month, 6 months, and 1-year action plans to get there. In one excel sheet, with three different tabs, labeled accordingly.
Then take the 3-month plan, and write out tasks you need to complete for each month. Once you have the months down, take each out and write out key tasks (explained in Technique 3.).
If this exercise doesn’t get you motivated, you are either not doing it right, or you need to pick a different profession.
There is something deeply motivating in knowing you are taking daily steps towards your ultimate goal, and maybe even figuring out the shoes you’ll be wearing when you get there (mine will be very red).
Key Daily Task(s)
We are translators, and we are busy, like all professionals.
Sometimes, when we are starting out, not all of our time can go to our translation business, because we choose to work full-time and freelance part-time, or go to school, or raise kids, or simply, be in a position where time and effort are split.
It’s very easy to stop feeling motivated when you are overrun with other tasks, and it will happen. This is when self-doubt seeps in and can make you feel paralyzed, killing your motivation.
This is ok, and it only means that it is essential you pin down key daily tasks that need to be completed, no matter what, in order to inch your way towards your ultimate goal (Technique 2.).
What are key daily tasks? Those 1-2 tasks that need doing, every day, no matter time constraints.
This is important, because, completing these key tasks will allow you to stay motivated, and keep the light at the end of the tunnel flickering.
If you spend 40 hours in your full-time job and then do absolutely nothing that week for your translation business, simply because you are tired and don’t know what to do, your motivation and self-confidence will take a big hit.
These daily tasks need to be autopilot tasks and always centered around sales and marketing, to sell your services!
Some ideas? Well, as a translator and business owner, these key daily tasks can include things like “contact 5 new leads every day for the next 3 months, no matter what”, or “get and complete a minimum of 1 weekly project, no matter what”, or “write down one new strategic blog idea every two weeks and set its publish date”.
The key is having the “no matter what”, as in, ideally these tasks should be refined, so that even if you are starting it/them at 9 pm, and you are tired, you have a full-proof process in place to get it done, knowing approximately how long it will take you.
Still motivated? Good! Let’s move to Technique 4.
I’ve been dancing flamenco for three years now, and this year, a very interesting thing happened to me in class. I started dancing really well, and with confidence.
I had always identified myself as an “ok dancer” but noticed that I was finally, performing. The biggest change? My eye wasn’t looking around the room seeing how others were dancing anymore.
It hit me instantly, I had stopped comparing myself. I didn’t care if the dancer beside me was a pro or screwing up every step of the choreography, my focus was on my footwork, my posture, and the teacher as a reference. That’s it.
The other people didn’t matter, just like I didn’t really matter to them (let’s be real).
Being focused on only my own work, and that of the guide (the teacher) spiked my energy and motivation levels ten-fold.
I began setting small goals for myself for each class, and low and behold, I was full of energy and motivation. Not to mention, after 3 years of classes, I finally felt like I was dancing.
Let’s tie this back to you as a translator and your motivation. The same concept applies.
If you spend your time comparing your website to other websites, you’ll be doing a lot of comparing. Eventually, your motivation will take a hit at every click. Same thing goes for LinkedIn pages, LinkedIn likes, and even views.
It is a good idea to check out successful colleagues as references and inspiration, I do that often, and when I don’t compare, I am simply happy they are successful, good for them!
Take yourself out of compare mode. There is no point in comparing, because your conditioned victim mind will always, and I mean always, find a way to put you down and say it’s not fair.
The funny thing is, the translators who make up the not-enough-time problem, are usually the ones spending most of it comparing and complaining.
The lesson is here is simple: stop distracting yourself by comparing, it’s simply a vanity fest, and vanity drains, never motivates.
Make a Schedule, Stick to It
This message is from Professor Jordan Peterson, you need routine! I am so glad he said it.
To think you are “beyond routine” or “not a routine person” is simply stupid. Every single successful business person, across industries, has or had a pretty solid routine down to get their business running.
Let’s step back on memory lane.
At the start of every school year, I would get a free branded agenda and pen, and every day, my teachers taught me to write down what I had and wanted to do the next day.
The key was wanted and had.
Life is full of things you have to do and things you’d like to do.
Making a schedule and sticking to it ensures you a) know the difference between the two, b) get to do both sets of things, and eventually c) if you stick to it, the things you’d like to do, will definitely outweigh the things you have to do. Guaranteed!
My agenda at 15 was something like, “Algebra, page 16, activity b”, “Write a draft for Essay Topic 2”, “Go to the movies with my friends”.
I never let go of the habit of having a schedule, and the only things I put into my Google or Outlook Calendar, are webinars, conference calls, or relevant professional events where I have to be physically present or on a call.
The problem with using Google and Outlook Calendars for your key daily tasks (Technique 3.) or for your routine schedule is similar to the problem of using your cell phone as an alarm, there is a digital snooze or dismiss button.
When your key tasks or full schedule is written down, and you don’t do it, you have to scratch it out with a pen to make it go away, and that’s not very pleasing to the eye.
But it is easy to press snooze on a task, or work, or worse, your whole schedule!
When you have a schedule, you will know exactly what you need to be doing to achieve your ultimate goal as a translator and business professional. Period.
The schedule and routine are not to restrict you, they direct your time with purpose, thus freeing you up and keeping you motivated.
You can see all the steps taken in one day. It will help you get up early the next morning.
I guarantee that if you make a schedule, write it out, and stick to it, not only will you feel better, but your time and motivation will spike exponentially within 2-3 days.
The more you stick to it, the more motivation will come to you. I guarantee it.
All of sudden of that “I don’t have time” will turn into “I’m done everything, amazing, what’s next?”.
Be like the little train, keep moving, but motivated on the right rails, which you set and direct.
I hope these 5 techniques help you go on-route to motivation town (ridiculous, but cute).
Translators, I’d like to know your thoughts, what are your motivation techniques?