Sep 22, 2009

Planning to fail

There are days when I think Armageddon would be a nice alternative to yet another urgent emergency translation delivery. There are days when sleeping under a local bridge, barbecuing sausages over an open campfire and listening to the rustling of wild boar in the bushes seem a desirable change from an office piled high with dictionaries, technology new and old and - my favorite - ringing phones. Four of them. Five if you count the fax. There are days when I hear the words "surely, you can fit this one in somewhere" and know just exactly where I would like it to fit.

There are days when failure seems like a pretty cool option.

For those of us tired of freelance success, there is help to be had. A number of colleagues offer advice on how to extricate oneself from the trap of success. A recent contribution is the excellent self-help article 10 Ways to Make Your Freelance Business Fail, though classics like 40 Fabulous Faults of Freelance Failures are old sources of inspiration not to be overlooked. These can be useful references even if you haven't decided yet that life in the soup kitchen line would be a lot less stressful.

One of my favorite lines of inspiration from the second source is something to remember when you consider continuing education options:
Why should you get certified when you’re already certifiable?
Indeed. A point worth considering carefully.

When I follow many of the online discussions on ProZ and elsewhere, it's clear to me that many colleagues and wannabe colleagues have discovered such useful advice long ahead of me and use it as the "secret weapon" pointed at their own temples with the thought of putting themselves out of the misery of being independent business people responsible for their own fates. It really is much better to live in a tightly controlled environment with strict rules and assigned roles, one in which only electricians may screw in light bulbs and only those with degrees in translation are permitted to translate complex procedures involving the handling of toxic chemicals or radioactive materials. Prices should be set by a Higher Power (that's HP, not HD) and apply universally - in every country - so that everything is fair. (Perhaps some mechanism will have to be found to keep those living in the "developing world" from living above their station, but the main thing is that we concern ourselves with these important, fundamental principles and shift the focus away from mundane matters like reality and how to compete effectively in a modern economy.)

Unfortunately for my long-suffering clientele perhaps, I usually awaken from these Walter Mitty as hobo reveries and realize that I actually like what I do and the people I do it for and just need a bit more time off occasionally. So if I start blogging from the Bahamas for a year, you'll know why.


  1. Ah K., I can totally relate, but did M. and I not talk recently about The Book of No? To use a totally lame-o phrase: very empowering.

  2. Yes, of course, we'll know why. Although the Bahamas blogging may be somewhat different, I think?


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