My kids got out of school on Friday for Christmas break.
Luckily for them, they have a whole month off.
Unluckily for them, they have a dad that doesn’t like to see them sitting around playing computer games all day.
So like any parent that wants to see their kids remain productive during the school’s “off season” I started looking for an app that I could use to track their daily tasks.
I wanted something that I could use that would allow me to enter multiple tasks for each of them, and then track that they accomplished those tasks.
I had a couple of prerequisites for keeping track.
I didn’t want to use paper.
I didn’t want to have to spend time every night writing down on a piece of paper everything I wanted them to do each day.
I never have paper on me and I wanted to be able to do it from my computer to make it more convenient.
Couple that with the fact that I can never find a pen or pencil when I need one, and I had to be able to do it all on the computer or my phone.
I wanted it to be easy to add and delete tasks for each of my three kids and then have an easy way to give those tasks to them each day.
So of course I figured there’s gotta be an app for that.
So I spent three days trying to find the right app.
I would download an app that looked like it would work, but then I found something that I didn’t like.
The app was too complicated, wanting me to assign priorities to each individual task.
Or the app wanted me to sign up. Then I’d have to sign up each one of my kids so that they could have the app.
I’ve already signed up for so many things that I didn’t want the headache for not only signing up for something else, but having to keep track of the signups for each of my kids.
One app I downloaded was too basic.
There was no way to track the tasks for each children or give them their individual lists of tasks.
After three days of frustration, I sat down to write an email on my computer.
And I had a thought.
An epiphany if you will.
Why hadn’t I thought of that earlier?
Making different lists is super easy.
I can update the list every day.
And I can easily email each list individually to my kids so that they have it at the beginning of the day.
I didn’t need a specialized app to solve my problems.
I just needed to use what I already had available.
So what does this have to do with translators?
The “If Only… Principle”
Translators are just people.
And people tend to look for solutions.
And not just solutions. They want new solutions.
Forget things that have worked for hundreds of years.
We’re in the 21st century here. We want a new way to do everything.
Take losing weight for example.
For years, decades even, we’ve know that cutting calories and exercising can lead to weight loss and better health.
But that’s not enough.
Or rather, it’s not new enough.
So we try out a new diet that is in vogue.
You get the idea.
The newest magic pill.
And we do this for every problem that comes up in our life.
We look for a new solution, even if the old ones work perfectly fine.
I call this the If Only Principle.
If only I had a new diet to lose weight.
If only I had a new workout regiment to get stronger.
If only I had an app to track my kids’ tasks over the Christmas school break.
The reason you do this is because it gives you an excuse to fail.
If you don’t succeed at whatever you are trying, you can blame it on the fact that you didn’t have the latest widget.
But worse than that, the If Only Principle gives you an excuse to not even start.
If you don’t have that shiny new object, then you tell yourself that there’s no way to succeed so you shouldn’t even get started.
Translators and the If Only Principle
If you’re already good with languages, becoming a translator isn’t difficult.
You just need to get started.
But getting started isn’t what some people think.
Here is what it isn’t:
- Getting a Twitter account
- Attending translation conferences
- Worrying about the corporate structure of your business
- Wasting time on translation forums
- Buying all the latest (expensive) translation software
- Signing up for 15 different social media accounts
- Getting an educational degree (in anything)
- Buying a new computer
- Hiring employees
- Becoming certified by the ATA
You don’t need any of the above to get started as a translator.
If you’re telling yourself that you have to have any of those things before you can become a translator, you’re suffering from the If Only Principle.
If you want to translate professionally, you only need one thing:
And you only need one.
So instead of focusing on a bunch of other things that will keep you from finding that first client, focus instead on what will.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “If only…”
That’s a recipe for not getting anything done.
Until next time.
P.S. Owning your own translator website can be a great way to get started. I recommend Bluehost.