I have no idea how much money you make, how many hours you work, what your boss or commute are like, or why your passion for work has dried up.
Here’s what I do know: Feeling disengaged, bored, unchallenged and complacent with your job is normal. “Normal” doesn’t necessarily mean healthy or productive, but there’s good news; if you play your hand right, these feelings can actually help find and reclaim your passion for language translation.
When Passion Dries Up: 5 Tips for Language Translators
Check your perception
Perception creates reality. When we are dissatisfied, often the first thing that needs an honest evaluation is the lens through which we see the world—and our career. So why are you unhappy? Why are you bored, restless, overworked, underpaid and so on? Is it really the job or is it the lens through which you perceive the job?
Remember the clients that make your job rewarding
I once gave a presentation at a conference. Afterwards, I received positive feedback and words of encouragement from a dozen people, but instead of reflecting on this, I chose to think about one backhanded compliment from someone I didn’t know and would probably never see again in my life. She didn’t know me. She didn’t understand where I was coming from, so why did what she say matter? It didn’t!
Like anyone, language translators encounter difficult and condescending clients. Forget them for now and think about all of the clients who pay you on time, thank you for your work and appreciate you enough to give you another assignment.
Assess your growth
There are myriad conferences and professional development opportunities for language translators. Have you sought any of them out? If you haven’t, perhaps you should. Love of the job is a lot like a relationship: it requires maintenance, patience, honesty and self-assessment. If you’re not “in love” anymore, maybe you need to work harder at it. Start by reaching out to other translators, attending conferences and meeting other language translators who know what you’re going through.
Take a vacation
When was the last time you took a vacation? And don’t say that you can’t afford one! Many language translators complain that they cannot take time off because time off means that they won’t get paid.
Here’s the solution: Let’s say that you typically gross $1,500 per week and you want to take four weeks of vacation. Then you’ll need $6,000 in savings in order to pay yourself $1,500 per week off. Divided by the 48 weeks a year that you would be working, you’ll need to save $125 a week.
Stash that amount in your paid-vacation account and enjoy your paid time off.
Use your skills in a new way
Language translators have an impressive skillset: not only can they negotiate several languages, they can write. Put these skills to good use.
- Try your hand at blogging. If you’re not sure how to break into the business, start with Zerys, an enormous online job board where agencies and private companies post freelance writing jobs. There are no monthly fees, you don’t have to purchase credits to bid on projects or submit proposals, and you can set up your account so that you are alerted whenever a job posting matches your profile.
- Tutor language learners online. There are many online language-learning communities where you can put your language skills to good use:
italki is a language-learning community that connects teachers and language learners through Skype. If you do not meet their qualifications to become a proper italki teacher, you can still become a community tutor. Tutors earn up to $16 an hour. Professional teachers earn up to $20 an hour.
Verbal Planet is a lot like italki. You decide how much you want to charge for your lessons, create your own schedule and manage it with your online work planner. You’ll need a Paypal account since you are paid directly by your students.