Want to be a Successful Language Professional? Stop the Self-Sabotage

I went to an outdoor market today with a bunch of friends. I had already been to this type of market before so I wasn’t too interested in what everyone was selling (mostly because it was all stuff I had seen plenty of times before).

Can you guess where it was based on the picture below?

Anyway, long story short, I decided to chill out on one of the benches in the main square at the market while everyone went off and did their shopping.

It was fine with me because I enjoyed sitting around enjoying the sun for a bit.

Well, as I was sitting around getting some (somewhat) fresh air, a guy approached me and asked if I had a light. He held out his homemade cigarette, indicating that he didn’t have anything to light it with.

I don’t smoke so I don’t carry a lighter. I couldn’t help the guy.

After he walked off, however, I did a double-take because he was wearing one of those facemasks that you see people where in China to try to keep from breathing the pollution.

So here was this guy wanting a light to smoke a homemade cigarette yet he was concerned enough about the pollution that he was walking around with a facemask on.

What a contradiction, right?

The thing is, though, how many of us do that on a daily basis, especially as translators looking to improve our freelance translation business?

We recognize what we need to do. In fact, we know what we want to do and are maybe even doing it. We are avoiding the pollution by putting on the facemask. 

And yet, we do things to self-sabotage any success we might have and then wonder why things aren’t working out like we want.

Need some examples?

What about these:

  1. You start advertising your services for a certain amount but then second guess how much your worth and decide to massively undersell your services because you think you’re not as valuable as what you want to charge.

  2. You know what it is in you want to do in regards to your translation business but then you decide to listen to your family or friends who think you’re crazy and that you shouldn’t do it or you should do it their way (even though they have no experience with translation or the language industry).

  3. You build up a clientele but fail to engage them on a regular basis and fail to remind them of your availability to work on their projects.

  4. In the same manner, you build a following on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or an email list but you don’t use that information to build your business through social media (if that’s what you’re trying to do).

  5. You build a website (using my favorite web hosting solution Bluehost) but then don’t update it, don’t include your contact information, or never use it to build an online presence. Not only are you not maximizing any potential success that could come from using the website, you’ve actually wasted time and money.

  6. You study a language so that you can become a language professional using that language but before you actually try to use that second language to make money, you decide that maybe you’ll be better off learning another language so you give up on the first and try another choice. Deep down, though, you know that you’re too scared to try and are just making excuses.

  7. You try to stay physically healthy as a freelance language professional by exercising every day but you don’t pay attention to what you put in your body and sabotage any benefits you might have gotten from exercising in the first place.

A lot of freelance translators and language professionals commit at least one or maybe even some of these self-sabotaging acts.

If this is you, you need to stop. The reason you’re not having the success you want as a freelance language professional is because you are hurting yourself. Nobody else is responsible for your success. You are responsible for both the good things that happen to you as well as the bad things.

And most of all, you are the one that is responsible for the way that you react to the things that happen.


Want to stop self-sabotaging your success? Be sure to buy Translation Rules, which will give you 40 tips and tricks for success as a freelance translation professional.

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