Showing posts with label business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label business. Show all posts

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Some thoughts on anxiety and overthinking when running your own business

Are you struggling with anxiety? Does overthinking drive you crazy? Cool!

Anxiety and overthinking are symptoms of a healthy brain. It may seem strange but it is true. Our brains have the best intentions: they stress over the same problems because they are trying to help. They think they are doing us a favour. They stress over the same problem over and over again precisely because they recognise this is something important and they are trying to provide us with a solution.

What goes wrong, then?

YOUR BRAIN IS A COMPUTER

Let us imagine that our brain is a computer. A computer can help us but in order to do so we must give it a problem. But giving a problem is not enough; we must express the problem in a way the computer understands it, namely in a way that is solvable. This is the perfect trick to make our brains actually work for us, not against us. In other words, if we feed our brains with anxiety, we will not get any results at all since our computer-brain will not have anything to work with. But our computer-brain will thrive on a well-expressed practical question.

HOW TO GET SOLUTIONS

Our brains thrive on problems; problem solving is their thing. So, next time you are facing a problem, try to rephrase it in a more concrete way. If you give your brain a concrete question, you are going to start getting answers. Your brain is going to invest all its energy not in providing worst-case scenarios or anxiety-filled thoughts, but in providing practical solutions. Your anxiety and overthinking then are going to work for your benefit: all this energy will come to your rescue. Still, worrying will not disappear magically; but this trick is going to help. If it helped me, the most anxious and overthinking woman ever, it will surely help you too! (However, if you feel too stressed, seek professional help).

AN EXAMPLE

Imagine you have to prepare lots of invoices but you have little time for this task. The idea of preparing invoices like this would make you anxious, right? Your mind would obsess with this boring task worrying over the details. And starting the task would take forever, as well.

You could use this energy, though, to your own advantage. Instead of trying to stop this kind of obsessive thinking, you could actually make it work for you. Switch into problem-solving mode. Obsess, yes, but this time with concrete questions.

Notice what happens when you give your mind a concrete question. If you feed your brain with questions such as how to get started with your invoice task, how to do it better, what music to listen to while you are doing the task, you will start getting answers. And what is more? When you put your brain in problem-solving mode, the worrying will stop. Try it and see for yourself if it works. And remember, an anxious mind is a healthy mind.

Thanks for reading!

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!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Translators and criticism


About your translation… Well, I don't know, something's wrong with it, I can't really tell you what it is, it's so hard to pinpoint… Well, first of all, your words, they weren't exactly wrong, but I wouldn't use these words you know, and overall, looking at your translation I feel that something doesn't feel well… I know it's subjective but… isn't everything subjective in life?

How would you respond if someone said this to you?

Some people find it hard to deal with criticism. Is it because they are sensitive? Or selfish? Is it because they think they know better? After all, criticism can make us work harder and so achieve better results. We should be more open-minded. We should stop being wimps. We should embrace criticism.

Now, what is criticism? The above comment isn't criticism. Criticism can make us better. In which ways the above can make you better? Does it contain specific examples of things that went wrong? Does it clarify certain issues? Does it provide other, more suitable options? Does it justify what it says? The above comment makes you feel bad precisely because it is so vague. And that's why you can't say anything against it. You can't stand your ground.

That's exactly why it's useless, too. It can't help you at all. This just criticises you for the sake of it. Now, if someone really wanted to help you, they would structure their criticism in a different way:

Hey, about that translation, just wanted to pinpoint a few things. First, you translated X as Y but as you can see here in this online dictionary (reference), there is term Z which is more appropriate in this context. Y is more general, right? Second, why did you keep these long sentences of the original? I say you split them up to a point, as it will make the translation easier to read. Overall it was quite good!

This piece of criticism is not bad, right? What do you think?

Now, you may disagree with these changes. But here it would be much easier to respond and defend your case.

Translators are sensitive to criticism for many reasons. First of all there is this 'translator-traitor' mentality, which makes us anxious to translate precisely. Moreover, the struggle with every single detail, which is part and parcel of our lives as translators, often goes unnoticed, whereas a tiny mistake is easily spotted (and frowned upon) by everyone.

Always ask for constructive criticism. When they respond in vague terms, ask them to elaborate. Do the same when you give criticism. Give references and explanations. Be precise and objective. And always make sure that your feedback has constructive value. Criticism can make us better translators. We shouldn't be afraid of it when it is done right.

Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

7 simple marketing tips for shy freelancers


Are you a shy freelancer like me? You want to promote your services but you feel uncomfortable? I feel exactly the same. However, we need to do something about it because, as freelancers, we need to get out there and do stuff. This is the only way clients will notice us. So, here are seven simple marketing tips that I came up with in order to help myself. Hope you find them useful :)

#1 INVESTIGATE YOUR TARGET CULTURE

If you want to market your services in an open, confident culture, you have to find ways to become more assertive. However, if you want to market your services in a culture which values modesty, your introvert style is more than perfect. For example in Greece, when someone is talking constantly about their achievements, it is considered bragging. Moreover, when a product or service is advertised a lot, people become skeptical. So first of all think if your style is already fit for the culture you are aiming your services at.

#2 DEVELOP YOUR OWN STYLE

When it comes to marketing, you should develop your own, personal style. First know yourself and then just be yourself. This is what matters most. And remember, your brand is you. You can't change all of a sudden! Embrace yourself and try to change only the things you feel really uncomfortable with, ignoring each new trend that comes your way.

#3 FOCUS ON OTHERS

If focusing on yourself makes you self-conscious, why not focus instead on the things you can do for others? Think of how your services can help others and promote your business along these lines. This way it will be easier for others to grasp exactly what you can do for them.

#4 START SMALL

If you feel uncomfortable about marketing your services, you should start small. A small website or blog, a few business cards, some phone calls are more than adequate when you start. And slowly but surely, you will get the hang of it. And no matter what, don’t compare yourself with others. They had started small, too!  

#5 SHIFT ATTENTION TO YOUR BRAND IMAGE

Since it feels weird to talk about yourself, why not shift the attention to your brand image? It is going to be much easier if you talk about your brand and its special qualities. This brand is you, of course, but this way you will trick yourself and will overcome your shyness.

#6 BE SIMPLE

A complicated brand, website, or business plan is only going to confuse both you and your clients, making you even more nervous and self-conscious. Why not try simple, clear-cut elements at first? Be simple!

#7 REMEMBER YOUR SHYNESS IS ACTUALLY A GOOD THING

Think of your shyness as a good thing, a positive attribute that is directly linked to your kind-hearted personality. You shouldn’t give it up. Rather, try to transform it into something more: become a balanced professional, who knows their limitations but who also claims their place in the freelancing world, knowing their strong points and confidently, not braggingly, asserts: here I am, I am good, work with me!

Thanks for reading!