Monday, 15 February 2016

Dreams, goals, reality: just focus on the how



When I worked as a teacher, there were many parents who complained that their kids didn't study enough. However, I am not sure that these kids were explicitly told how to study. It seemed that studying techniques was a kind of taboo topic. Much talk was being done about the importance of it, but the actual act of studying was a bit hushed upon. When I was a kid and I was asking how I should study, they shrugged me off telling me that I just needed to 'open the book and start studying'.

Oh really? And when I get bored? And when I don't understand something? And when I don't feel like it? After all, is it normal for a kid to be able to focus on such an unstimulating activity? I did want to study; sometimes I enjoyed it; but sometimes I found it very hard to concentrate. I got bored. I turned on MTV. I called my friends. No focus at all.

Now, the same old story all over again. I have goals. And I get stuck. You, people, with the perfect careers, do tell me, please: how do you do it? I want details. All the gory details. You, with the top class grades. You, who always seem on top of everything. Tell me. How. Do. You. Do. It.

Something similar is happening right now, I am afraid, on a global level. Day after day, articles and blog posts appear urging freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs to get up and do stuff. Achieve our goals. Grow. Fulfil our potential. Leave our comfort zone. But only a few articles and posts tell us how to do it.

I mean, for real. I want to learn how to do it. I want to hear everything that went wrong and how you were able to fix it. I want to read about how you were bored to death, procrastinating like crazy, but still managed to overcome it and finally succeed.

Having said that, I think that what works for a person depends on his or her specific circumstances. What worked for me may not necessarily work for you. But reading about specific cases exposes me to various plans that do work, albeit in a different context, and this gets me in the mood of doing things.  

I am not a big fan of clich├ęs such as 'leave your comfort zone' or 'always think positively because the universe is conspiring for your benefit only'. Instead, I believe that what we want is on the other side of hard work.

And hard work needs a plan. An explicit plan. That's why, when I used to teach, I would explain in detail to my students how they should study. In every single detail. They needed a plan, that is, a clear process. And I don't mean micromanaging, far from it. I just described them how I did it (because at that time I was a student, too). And this did the trick. It put them to the right track. It gave them a good example. That's what I need at the moment. I need to learn how to proceed. What we want is on the other side of hard work. And hard work, people, needs a plan.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

How translators can find comfort in their specialisation


As  a translator, have you ever thought of specialisation as something that can provide you with comfort?

If you ask experienced translators, they will tell you that specialisation is key for success. While this is very true, I also believe that specialisation can give us also a sense of comfort.

One of my fundamental needs as a person is to be around familiar things. Familiarity gives me a sense of security. That's why when I take on jobs within my specialisation I feel very comfortable.

For example, I never hesitate to accept a difficult project when it belongs to my specialisation. In this case my specialisation makes me feel relaxed and confident. What's more, since there will be many aspects of the project that will be familiar, I know I won't waste time or effort on them. Thus I will be able to focus on the more difficult aspects of the project and this will certainly show on the final product in terms of quality. Besides, I am sure that accepting such projects can only make me more productive in the long run.

Finding comfort in our specialisation does not mean that we should stay within our comfort zone and refuse to try anything new. What I am saying here is that when we build a freelance business we need a place where we can feel comfort and safe. This place can be our specialisation. And from there, we can start experimenting. In other words, in order to get uncomfortable, we need to start from a place where we feel comfortable. Do you agree?

Thanks for reading!