Are You Starting the Translator Profession With the Right Motives?

This is the third (and last) post to help you figure out if the career of a translator is right for you. This time, I would to discuss your motive.


There are two types of motives: positive motives and negative motives.


The former means being attracted towards translation through positive feelings like, “I want to translate,” “I think if I was doing that kind of work, I would be happier than I am now,” “I want to accomplish things through translation,” “I think the lifestyle of a translator would be right for me,” etc. (pulled).



The latter is being shoved towards translation through negative feelings such as “I hate my current job so much that I’d rather do anything else, and translation seems like a good fit,” “I just want to not do the work I’m doing now,” “I never want to see my boss or coworkers again,” “I wish there were a way for me to leave this busy and crowded city I’m living in now,” etc. (pushed).



It’s more likely that you have a mix of both motives rather than just one. If you feel both types of motive strongly, translation is probably the right choice for you.


There’s one thing I want to make clear here. Evaluate whether or not you’re trying to start translation with almost all negative motives and barely any positive ones. If that’s the case, I want to stop you. You might think, “I’m just trying to use this as a temporary measure to wait until the storm passes and go. What’s so bad about that?” The problem, however, is not that simple. Translation as a business is very different from the kind of part time jobs inexperienced workers often have. So, for those who think of translation as a part time job that you can do for a while and then quit whenever you want, understand that there is a huge possibility that you will endure a lot of hardship for very little profit. Translation is something that only slowly starts bearing fruit after you invest a significant amount of time to finding your place as a professional translator, continuously working hard, and acquiring more skills and a good reputation. Come to think of it, what kind of business isn’t like that? So naturally, it’s also true of translation.


The translation business has changed a lot over the years (I’ll write about this in more detail under a category “Freelance Translation Business” later on). It seems to me that many of you think of translation as a part time job that you can start and quit whenever you want without much trouble. Maybe all you remember about translation is that you used to help a friend out with it sometimes when you had time during your school years and you don’t realize how much the translation business has changed.


In order to launch your translation business, you need to invest a significant amount of time into it. You also need to invest quite a lot financially, although probably a lot less compared to other businesses. Then, when you earn some income, you need to reinvest that money into various software programs, etc. Although these kinds of things aren’t big problems once your business gets on track, these are very difficult things to do in the beginning stages when you’re struggling to find work.



This is why I am telling people with only negative motives who are just giving translation a try because they have nothing else to do to not start it at all. One more time, to sum up: it’s good to have both strong positive and negative motives, and I don’t recommend starting the translation business with only strong negative motives.


Now, I want to summarize everything I’ve talked about so far.


Although aptitude and skills are both important, I asked you to put more of a priority on aptitude. If you already have considerable skill, you can gradually improve it by pushing forward as long as you have a solid foundation of strong motive and aptitude. However, doing work that you’re not suited for is wasting your own time as well as that of the future readers and clients who will read your translation, and it causes trouble for them.


[bctt tweet=”Doing translation work that you’re not suited for is wasting your own time as well as that of others.” username=””]


It’s good to have a strong positive pull as well as a strong negative push. It is also fine to only have positive motives and no negative motives. However, I want to warn you against starting translation with only negative motives.


It’s not good to rush your work. Direction is always more important than speed, and what you do is more important than how you do it. So, stop for a moment and do a little soul searching about what I have said so far…



Think for a little longer.



Think a little more, because your future depends on it.



When you think about living life as a translator, do you feel yourself becoming happily eager? Does your heart beat faster? And do you find yourself smiling? Or do you become irritated, feel frustrated, or feel nothing at all?


If you’re the former, start translation.
If you’re the latter, don’t start translation.



I want to congratulate those of you who have read my blog posts up to here and have still decided to start translation! You’ve found the right career for you. Now, you can just keep pushing forward, trusting the voice inside you, no matter what anyone says. Please keep diligently reading, practicing, experimenting with, inquiring, thinking about, and enjoying my blog posts.


For the rest of you, you don’t need to read any more posts. I sincerely hope you are able to find another path that’s right for you. The right path is found by looking inside yourself, by finding your own color, own aptitude, or something unique about yourself and by persistently pursuing it. That is the path to happiness.


[bctt tweet=”The right path is found by looking inside yourself and by persistently pursuing it. That is the path to happiness.” username=””]


That is the path to happiness. There are many people who decided not to become a translator after talking with me for a long time and listening to my advice about how important aptitude is, how much time you need to invest in the beginning, etc. In the end, only you can make the decision for yourself. When I sometimes think about those people, I feel that they have made an excellent decision for themselves. I don’t think it’s right to start translation just because you have nothing else to do or just because you can. You must look at the long-term picture. I think that what suits you, what you like, what you have an aptitude for, and what you feel you would be happy doing is the right path for you. I hope you go on to pursue whatever that may be.


On the other hand, I hope the blog posts I upload will be helpful to those of you who think translation is the right path for you.


If you would like to know how to become a translator, read this post: How to Become a Translator: What You Really Need to Know.


브라이언은 의료분야에서 한영번역을 하는 번역가입니다. 캐나다 온타리오의 작은 시골 마을에서 아내와 둘이 삽니다. 여행과 독서와 음악과 커피를 좋아합니다.

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