Note: a slightly edited version of the post below also appears in the current issue of the American Translators Association's Chronicle, for which Judy is a columnist.
|Zombie apocalypse? No, just an empty gym. Photo by Judy.|
A few months ago, Dagy and I ran a 5 K charity race in Vegas, during which she proceeded to kick my butt. As a reward, she now has twin bragging rights for life and we both received a nice finisher’s goodie bag, which contained a free one-week pass to a very fancy gym. We immediately went to take advantage of this fantastic offer, and while we were very impressed with the gym’s world-class installations, spa-like locker rooms and the fact that we were working out two machines away from Andre Agassi, we also were struck by something else: the place was deserted. It felt like the zombie apocalypse had indeed happened and the former tennis world number one and the two of us were the only survivors. It was truly spooky, and even though the gym had a lot of things going for it, I did not join. I missed the energy and the great vibe from my regular, much less fancy gym. However, I did start thinking about what potential zombie apocalypse conditions feel like in our profession: it’s when the phone does not ring and the inbox is empty, making us think that no one will ever hire us again. It’s happened to every single one of us, and unfortunately the feast or famine phenomenon is part of our everyday business realities. The question is: how do you handle it? I have a few tips.
- There will be more work. Really. You simply have to believe that this is true, and you will see that I am probably right. Our business tends to be somewhat cyclical, and some periods will simply be busier than others. Try to identify those times ahead of time if possible so you can plan ahead. For instance, I know that December is a relatively quiet interpreting month in Vegas, which is just as well because I need the time to decorate the tree, make cookies and to treat clients to holiday lunches.
- Try not to be depressed. This is a challenging skill to master, and it’s only natural to occasionally question why you chose this profession, what you did to deserve this sort of punishment, etc. Look at the bright side: finally you have some time to have coffee with your long-lost friend, catch up on your DVR recordings, take the neglected puppy for a real walk, etc. A few months ago, I finished my last project of the day mid-morning, and spent the afternoon with a girlfriend I had not seen in months. We went to Chinatown to have reflexology massages and then to a tasty Chinese dinner, where her six-month old happily ate organic broccoli and I learned what it feels like to be the only person in the room who does not speak the language (Mandarin). I came home happy and re-energized, and sure enough, there was a new project in my inbox.
- Be a squirrel. This might be your time to stock up on R&R, reading, conferences, doing paperwork you’ve been putting off, etc. Chances are you will be so busy in the near future that a lot of these non-revenue-making tasks will be put off, so you can be like a smart squirrel now and check some of these things off your list. Now is the ideal time to focus your energy on professional development. There’s nothing like meeting great fellow professionals and learning something new to get you excited about your profession.
- Find new clients. This is the time to network, as painful as it might be (and can be). Make it your goal to attend one networking event and try to meet at least one or two new people. Or take a potential business contact to lunch. I tried this a few months ago, and the lawyer I took for lunch promptly sent me a project a mere four weeks after our vegan and very healthy lunch date.
Now, rest assured that in our business, there’s no such thing as a true zombie apocalypse as far as I know. Quite the contrary: the industry is steadily growing. However, I would not be so sure about that fancy Vegas gym. The zombies might have taken it over by now. I should stop by and check one of these days.