How to Stay Motivated in Translator's Life

December 25th, 2013

The secret to staying motivated is to have well-defined goals that can be broken down into bite-sized chunks.

How to Stay Motivated in Translator's Life  | One Hour Translation

I have to admit, I’m often mystified at people who talk about how difficult it is to get and stay motivated in a freelance translation career. One reason I find this mystifying is the fact that this is not a hobby or a lifestyle choice, it’s a way to make a living. As in, a way to pay rent and buy food and have shoes on your feet – who in the world needs more motivation than a fear of being out on the street? I’m being a little melodramatic, but it’s the first thing I think of: When I wake up in the morning and lack motivation for my day’s translation work all I have to do is look at the stack of bills on the table and I suddenly have all the motivation I need!

Still, I suppose some folks are really talking about more general motivation: How to achieve long-term goals in your translation or other freelance career. This I can understand. The day-to-day wear and tear of working for a living saps you of energy you could be using towards loftier goals. How do you maintain a fire in the belly for bigger goals – the places you want to be decades from now?

Have a Plan

The first mistake I see a lot of people make here is that they have no concrete goals. They have a vague idea of being more successful, or running their own business instead of being a freelancer, or of retiring young and living a quiet life in some exotic port. But vague ideas will get you nowhere – your first step when you’re trying to motivate yourself for a long-term goal is to have a concrete idea of what it is you want.

For example, as a translation professional perhaps you’re tired of being the freelancer that chases after work and you’d prefer to be the boss who hires the freelancers. That’s a fine goal – but think about what it means. You’ll need a roster of clients. You’ll need an operating budget. You may need paperwork filed to establish yourself as a business or corporation. You need to answer these questions with clear facts before you can take any actual steps towards it – otherwise it remains a daydream.

Small Steps

Next, you have to break down your journey from where you are to where you want to be into small, achievable steps. You have to work through each step along the way and subdivide it into the smallest possible sub-step. For example, you need clients that you can woo over to your new business. Maybe this year you begin a database of all the clients and potential clients you know of so you can start keeping in touch with them.

Whatever you do, the smaller each individual sub-goal the more sense of progress you’ll have – and that’s where your motivation comes from.

Image courtesy christinekane.com

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