How To Make Your Own L.U.C.K.

Have you ever wondered why some people always seem to be lucky? Whatever they do, they succeed. Sometimes without even trying. Do they have a lucky star, or do they make their own luck? And if they make their own luck, how do they do it?

I recently attended a networking event called Cambridge Pitch & Mix. Every Thursday morning, local business owners and entrepreneurs meet in a café in Cambridge, UK, to discuss business topics. The chosen topic for that particular morning was: “How can you make your own luck?” Here are some of the ideas that came up during the discussion:

Filters – There’s so much going on around us that it isn’t possible for us to process all that information consciously. We wouldn’t be able to function properly if we did. So the mind uses “filters” and only focuses on information that it believes is relevant to us, and ignores the rest.

The first car I bought was a red Fiesta. I’d never spent so much money before, so I wanted to make sure it was the right choice. It took me several days to decide whether to buy it or not, and during those few days I spotted red Fiestas everywhere. There were so many of them! Where did they all suddenly come from? Of course, they’d always been there, but that piece of information was irrelevant to me, so my mind filtered them out until I thought about buying one.

The same goes for opportunities. If you focus on the things you want in your life, it will be a lot easier for you to spot opportunities. If instead you focus on the things you don’t want, that’s what you’re going to see. So luck could simply be a matter of choosing the right “filters”.

Prototyping – Some of us go into projects without taking the time to properly measure the risks, or even our chances of success. If we invest everything into a project that’s doomed to fail, we’ll lose everything. The best way to avoid this is to start small and test the ground.

Silicon Valley design innovators Bill Burnett and Dave Evans taught their students at Stanford University how to apply “Design Thinking” to their lives and create “experience prototypes” to help them decide what direction to take next, one step at a time.

An experience prototype could be working in a restaurant for a few weeks before deciding to open your own restaurant, to see if the reality matches the dream. Bill Burnett’s and Dave Evans’ techniques are described in detail in their book: Designing Your Life.

Hard work – The fact that it looks easy, doesn’t mean that it is. In the vast majority of cases, success is the result of hard work. Some people are just good at making it look effortless. Any sports or business personality biography will show what it takes to reach the top. And if luck played any part in their success, it’s only because everything else was in place.

Towards the end of the discussion, one of the participants shared an interesting acronym: L.U.C.K.

Location – Luck is often described as “being in the right place at the right time”. While it may not always be possible for us to choose the right time, we still have much control over where we choose to be. This can be a geographical location, or places where our business needs to be visible (networking events, adverts, online presence, etc.).

How does your geographical location currently affect your business? How can this be improved?

Where do you need to be seen?

Understanding of opportunities – Being able to spot needs and gaps in the market puts us at a serious advantage. Understanding how these gaps can be filled and how to position products and services is essential, whatever the nature of your business.

What needs can you see emerging in the market?

How can you fulfill these needs?

Connections – “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Sadly, there is a lot of truth in this, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Opportunities to network and connect are endless nowadays. This informal Meetup group in Cambridge is a prime example.

Who do you need to add to your list of contacts?

Where can you meet them? How can you get in touch?

Knowledge – Of course it’s about what you know! Without sound knowledge of the skills that are required to fulfill your clients’ needs, you can’t go very far. Hard skills are vital, soft skills play an essential part too.

How can you improve your skills / acquire new ones?

Who can you learn from?

So there you have it! This is how a group of business people in Cambridge believe you can make your own luck. “But don’t dismiss randomness”, one of the participants said. “There’s also power in serendipity.”

***

As a performance coach, my role is to help my clients make their own luck. I do this by helping them think clearly and efficiently. We start by making their goals or targets as specific as possible, as a way of ensuring that the right “filters” are in place. We then discuss the reality of their situation, and lift every stone until we find what needs to be changed, improved or added. The insights gained from this work help my clients make better decisions, and therefore increase their chances of success.

I’ve created my own Meetup group to introduce coaching to local professionals and business people. If you live in or around Cambridge and would like to know more about my work, please join us here.

To keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on this page to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you there!

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@kikii

Time Management For Freelancers – Time Log Exercise

Have you ever thought that there weren’t enough hours in the day? Do you find it difficult to keep on top of your to-do list? You’re not alone. Despite all the time-saving technology now at our disposal, time management remains an issue for many of us. It is one of the main challenges freelancers have to face everyday.

The following time log exercise will help you to gain insights about your own time management. A time log is a written record of how you spend your time during the day, and in particular during your working hours. It will help you to understand exactly how you use your time, and to identify activities that are unproductive or of low value. It will also give you a clearer idea of the times when you are most productive during the day.

Time log

 

Keeping a time log

Keeping a time log for a few days (ideally for a whole week) can be quite eye-opening! To help you with this exercise, I have provided a template on page 2 of this free downloadable PDF. Please print this template as many times as you need, and add a new entry each time you start a new activity (e.g. emailing, translating, invoicing, making coffee, Internet, phone calls, etc.). Please include all activities, even if they are not work-related.

Note down a brief description of the activity, the time of the change, and how you feel (alert, tired, energetic, etc.). Then, at the end of the day, or at a convenient time, note the duration of each activity, as well as its level of importance (high, medium, low) based on how far it contributed to achieving your professional goals.

 

Analysing your time log

Once you have completed your time log, review it against your professional goals.

What aspects of your time management are working well for you?

How is this supporting your goals?

When are you most productive during the day?

When do you feel most alert/energetic?

What aspects of your time management are not working for you?

Which activities were of low importance?

Which activities didn’t help you to meet your goals?

When are you least productive/alert/energetic during the day?

What insights have you gained about your own time management?

Which activities could be eliminated?

Which activities/tasks could be delegated?

Which activities could you do at a more suitable time? (Think about scheduling challenging/important tasks for the time of the day when you feel your best, and lower energy tasks, such as replying to emails or returning calls, for the time of the day when you feel less energetic.)

Which activities could/should take less time?

What could you do less often? What could you do more often?

What will you commit to doing differently as a result of this exercise?

 

What next?

If you would like to learn more time management techniques, come and join me at one of my time management workshops. For updates about my workshops, don’t hesitate to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. You can also contact me here to discuss the possibility of organising another workshop in your area. I promise it will be time well spent!

 

You may also like:

The Freelancer’s Business Priorities Wheel

The Freelancer’s Stretch Zone

5 Common (And Surmountable) Barriers To A Fulfilling Freelancing Career

International Coach Of The Year 2016 and how coaching can help freelancers

On Saturday December 10th, The Coaching Academy celebrated the successes of its former students with a very stylish award ceremony held at De Vere’s Latimer Place, just outside London.

Awards were presented in 7 categories, including Best Newcomer, Life Coach Of The Year, NLP Coach Of The Year, Small Business Coach Of The Year, Executive Coach Of The Year, Coaching For A Cause, and International Coach Of The Year.

With Bev James, CEO of The Coaching Academy

I’m very honoured and grateful to have been presented with the International Coach Of The Year 2016 award for my work with freelance translators around the world, including the Future-Proof Translator webinar series, my article in the ATA Chronicle, and the various talks I gave across Europe and at the ATA conference in San Francisco just a few weeks ago.

 

A night to remember!

Coaching is a process that empowers people to set goals, step outside their comfort zones, overcome challenges and take action. It also helps people to manage transitions as they say goodbye to their old selves and explore new ways of doing things.

Whether freelancers wish to move to another country, target a niche market, set up an agency, go back to work after raising children or grow their online presence using social media, coaching can help them to reach their goals faster and more efficiently.

If you’re interested in coaching and would like to keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on the right-end side of the screen to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. You can also find more about my services here.

5 Common (And Surmountable) Barriers To A Fulfilling Freelancing Career

 

Many of us embarked on a freelancing career in the hope of finding more fulfilment in our lives, only to discover that it isn’t as straight forward as we originally thought. Freelancing can be immensely rewarding, but also very demanding. In this article I discuss a few common barriers to a fulfilling freelancing career, and I share a few ideas to help you to overcome them.

 

1 – Lack of vision

Most freelancers decide to setup their own business because they’re good at what they do and they believe they can make money out of it. Not many of them see their small business as a means to get to where they want to be. In other words, few freelancers start with a clear vision of what they want their lives to look like.

A vision is your 10 out of 10, your personal and/or professional life as you want it to be. Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve gives you a sense of direction and control over your choices. It helps you to decide what’s important and what’s not. In times of doubt, struggle or frustration, revisiting your vision helps to boost your levels of motivation and willpower.

What is your 10 out of 10?

How will your business enable you to achieve this?

 

2 – Lack of systems and processes

Many people go freelance because they love what they do. Unfortunately, a large proportion of small businesses go bust within the first couple of years because their owners spend most of their time working IN the business (i.e. doing what they love doing) and not enough time working ON the business (developing systems and processes).

Systems and processes include, but are not limited to, filing systems, sales processes (from the initial enquiry to the actual sale) and customer service processes (including email templates). They boost your efficiency by eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel for each new client or project. This can in turn reduce the risk of burnout.

What systems and processes have you put in place for your business?

How effective are they?

 

3 – Working for the wrong clients

Have you ever regretted taking on a job? Or sworn never to work for a particular client again? You’re not alone. Sometimes finding clients, any client, takes priority over finding the right clients, especially if you’re new to the business.

Working for the wrong client doesn’t only mean working for someone who doesn’t pay on time or is difficult to communicate with. It can also mean working in the wrong niche or specialisation, for clients you don’t have enough in common with. This can lead to spending too much time doing research or trying to understand concepts you’re not familiar with. Finding the right clients will boost your energy, your motivation and your productivity.

What specialisations and/or niche markets best suit you?

What areas do you enjoy researching and reading about?

 

4 – Overwhelm

Let’s face it, working as a freelancer can at times be quite overwhelming. Especially if you’re having to juggle working from home and raising a family. And when deadlines are tight, keeping up with bookkeeping or filing a tax return can cause more stress than necessary.

Overwhelm can be overcome in several different ways, including chunking tasks down into small, manageable steps, delegating, outsourcing, and learning new skills (e.g. bookkeeping). Taking a moment to breathe and focus on the present, and not on future problems that may never occur, can also help to feel more grounded and in control.

What is the cause of you feeling overwhelmed?

What strategies can you adopt to avoid this?

 

5 – Undercompensation

Many freelancers worry about money but, while a lack of money is a valid concern, undercompensation is not limited to financial matters. It can also mean not taking enough time off to enjoy a quality of life that compensates for all your hard work and allows you to recharge.

Working long hours is sometimes necessary, but constantly working overtime is counter-productive. It leads to stress, irritability and loss of focus, which in turn leads to more mistakes and more (corrective) work. Stress can also result in various illnesses and injuries.

Techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique™ can help you to take breaks at regular intervals with a view to maintaining high levels of energy.

How often do you completely switch off from work? Go on a holiday?

How do you reward yourself once you’ve completed a project?

 

How coaching can help

Coaching is a form of learning that promotes personal development, leading to action, change, and ultimately greater fulfillment in your life. The coach listens to you to understand who you are, what your current situation is and what you’re trying to achieve. During your conversations, the coach asks powerful, targeted questions to help you to gain real clarity, rise to challenges and overcome obstacles.

The coach encourages you to find your own solutions. Without telling you what to do, he/she helps you to understand your situation more clearly and to develop new ideas and approaches. By letting you design your own plan of action, the coaching process aims to boost your sense of confidence and accomplishment.

***

To keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on the right-end side of the screen to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you there!

10 tips to make the cover of a magazine

The ATA Chronicle, Sept./Oct. 2016

The ATA Chronicle, Sept./Oct. 2016

Who hasn’t daydreamed about making the cover of a magazine? Admit it. Most of us have done it at some point in our lives, perhaps to momentarily escape the routine or the stresses of daily life, or simply out of curiosity to try and imagine what it would be like. Perhaps you saw yourself as a movie star, a writer, a political leader or an inventor, and for a few moments you dared to dream.

What if this dream could come true? From trade publications to arts & crafts magazines to local newspapers, the world abounds with publications that are keen to share inspiring, thought-provoking stories and ideas. Opportunities to be visible and share your stories and ideas are just a few steps away.

Such an opportunity was given to me a few weeks ago, when the ATA Chronicle — the official publication of the American Translators Association (ATA) — asked for my permission to use one of my photos on their cover. This was an immense honour. With readers in over 100 countries, the magazine instantly raised my profile in the industry and recognised over a year of work on a topic I feel passionate about.

I hadn’t planned to appear on the cover of a magazine, but with hindsight I was able to identify the various steps that led to this fortunate outcome. I’d like to share these steps with you today to help you to make your own mark with your own stories and ideas, be it locally, nationally or perhaps even internationally.

 

10 TIPS TO MAKE THE COVER OF A MAGAZINE:

 

1 – FIND YOUR TRIBE

Sometimes it pays to be a big fish in a small pond. It’s certainly a valid business model, and it applies here too. Targeting a specific audience or “tribe” will make it easier for you to stand out from the crowd, establish yourself as an expert, build trust and make yourself heard.

After working for 15 years as a French translator, I decided to follow my second passion and qualify as a coach. Rather than offering my coaching services to everybody and anybody, it made sense for me to target freelance translators as my tribe. Just 6 months after starting a blog, I received an invitation to talk at a translation conference in Norway. This was quickly followed by other invitations to talk around the world, which soon led to the cover illustrated above.

My tribe has now expanded to include other freelancers and passionate people, but it remains a tribe. What is your tribe? Who do you share ideas and values with?

For more information about tribes, see Seth Godin’s TED Talk.

 

2 – SHARE A STORY

Story-telling is intrinsic to human communications. We told stories and learned from listening to stories long before we could read and write. In today’s information age, story-telling is still in our DNA.

Telling a story will help you to connect with your readers and inspire them, especially if they can relate to it on an emotional level. In the first few paragraphs of the article that made the cover of the ATA Chronicle, I tell my readers about a night I spent thinking about becoming a public speaker. I chose to tell a personal story, but your story doesn’t have to be personal. It can be the story of someone you know, a well-known figure, or a case study.

What has surprised you or inspired you lately? What can you tell us about it?

For more information about the secrets of story-telling, see Carmine Gallo’s Talk at Google.

 

3 – OFFER A NEW, UNEXPECTED ANGLE ON A TOPICAL ISSUE

Today’s world is bursting with information. From official news sites to blog posts and tweets, information pours into our lives throughout the day, and even the night. How can you make yourself heard in such a noisy environment? How can you catch people’s attention?

One way to attract a large readership is to write about a topical issue, i.e. a topic everybody is talking about within your tribe. However, this alone won’t make you standout. The Internet is full of posts that are simply saying the same thing over and over again. To stand out from the crowd, you need to offer a new, unexpected angle.

I chose to write an article about change in the translation industry, including change brought by machine translation (MT). This hotly-debated topic among translators is widely covered by blogs and articles that tend to either promote the latest advances in MT or ridicule them. As a coach, I approached the issue from three different angles: the technological side of change, the human side of change and the business side of change. As far as I was aware, no one had done it before.

What is your tribe talking about? What are they interested in? What new perspectives can you bring to the debate?

 

4 – DON’T BE AFRAID TO UPSET A FEW PEOPLE

“If you can’t please them, upset them”. This piece of advice is often given to people who want to make some noise and get noticed, but I wouldn’t recommend you upset people deliberately. Having said that, don’t be afraid to upset or anger a few people with your ideas. Writing banalities and clichés won’t get you anywhere. Besides, you can’t please everybody. Some people won’t like what you say but as long as you say it in a manner that isn’t meant to be offensive or hurtful, it’s OK.

Writing about MT was slightly risky. This topic angers quite a few translators and, as expected, I received a few negative comments. That’s absolutely fine. I don’t claim to be the truth-bearer, I’m only interested in introducing people to different perspectives. They have a right to reject my ideas.

What ideas might stir up some emotions among your readers? How can you present them in a way that encourages a constructive debate?

 

5 – WRITE WELL OR FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN

It goes without saying that your article should be well written. If writing isn’t your forte, you can either ask someone who can write to edit your copy, or ask someone else to write it for you (depending on how much work they put in, it may be appropriate to mention their name as the author or co-author of the article). In most cases, your article will also be edited by the publication’s editor who will send a revised copy to you for your approval.

One of the challenges of our time is information overload. Conciseness is widely appreciated. Keep your paragraphs short and to the point, and structure your article in a way that makes it easy for the reader to follow your thought processes. Let someone read your article before you submit it, and ask for feedback.

Who could help you to write your article? Who would be happy to read it before you submit it?

 

6 – POLISH YOUR IMAGE

“Image is everything”. This may not be true, but when it comes to making the cover of a magazine, image is certainly important, and it isn’t limited to what you wear. Your body language, your posture, the tone of your voice (and of your text), everything will need to reflect what the publication is looking for.

Of course the clothes that you wear are important too, and the occasion will usually dictate the dress code. One of the benefits of writing for your tribe is that your style is likely to match theirs. If you write for a gardening magazine, casual clothes, and perhaps a pair of wellies, will do the job nicely!

How would you describe your image? Does it match the style of your tribe? Of the magazine?

 

7 – PROVIDE A HIGH QUALITY PHOTO TO ILLUSTRATE YOUR ARTICLE

Another way to catch readers’ attention is to provide images with your article. Ideally, your photo will show you in action. It is so easy to take snaps these days, but for your photo to be selected for the cover of the magazine, it will have to be of a professional quality. The resolution will need to be high enough to allow printing on an A4 cover, or in any other format.

If someone else took the photo, you will need their permission to publish it. And if other people are in the shot, you will need their permission too.

What kind of shot will best illustrate your article? How can you ensure it is of a high quality? Can your photo be easily cropped for printing on a cover?

 

8 – BE POLITE AND HELPFUL

Magazine editors receive a lot of emails and have to work against tight deadlines. Submit your piece on time, follow any guidelines, approve the edits unless you have a valid reason not to (in which case explain politely why you’re rejecting them), and check the final proof promptly. If you can, provide your own photos, as this will save them having to pay for stock images.

This will go a long way in helping you to build a strong and long-lasting relationship with the magazine and be selected for a cover feature.

 

9 – BE PATIENT

“Rome wasn’t built in a day”. It may take a few months before your article is published. This is because the magazine may have specific topics they wish to cover with each issue.

I was given a deadline for publication the following month. However, by the time the issue was published (without my article), I still hadn’t heard back from the editor. I emailed him to let him know that I was considering publishing my article on my blog if my chosen topic wasn’t suitable for the magazine. No answer. I assumed my piece had been rejected.

I prepared to publish my article online, but then decided to wait. Thank goodness! Two months after the submission date, I finally received an email from the editor. He wanted to use my article as a cover feature for the next issue. Had I rushed into sharing it online, I might have ruined my chances of making the cover.

If your article is rejected by a magazine, this isn’t the end of the world. Don’t give up. Write more articles, submit the same article to another publication, or publish it online and promote it via social media. Your tribe will appreciate your contribution.

 

10 – Have faith

Things often fall into place in an unexpected act of serendipity. You’re in the right place, at the right time. A chance encounter leads to a fruitful collaboration. A door closes, only to let a better one open.

I hadn’t planned to write an article for the ATA Chronicle. I had in fact submitted a proposal for a talk at the next ATA conference, where over 1,500 delegates were expected. It was sadly rejected, and the committee suggested I write something for their magazine instead. Disappointed, I nonetheless obliged, deciding that it was better than nothing.

I had already given the talk at another conference in Prague, Czech Republic, where the organiser had arranged for professional photos to be taken for marketing purposes. I sent one of the photos to the magazine in case they might want to print it with the article. Then I completely forgot about it.

As it turned out, ATA had asked the magazine to use photos of real translators on the cover whenever possible. My photo fitted the bill perfectly, and with it three parties were granted their wishes: the magazine featured a real translator on its cover, the organiser of the Prague conference was delighted with the exposure, and I was introduced to over 10,000 readers — far more people than I would have reached through a talk. It was as if Life had had a better plan than mine all along.

When did you last experience serendipity? What happened? What could you do to increase your luck?

***

If you would like to read my article in the online version of the ATA Chronicle, please click here.

To keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on the right-end side of the screen to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you there!

 

Coaching Tips For Freelancers

Earlier this week I was interviewed by Dmitry Kornyukhov and Elena Tereshchenkova of Blabbling Translators on how coaching can help freelance translators. All the tips I share in this interview are relevant to other freelancers, which is why I am sharing the link with you today.

In this interview, we discuss how coaching helps people achieve results, how to align your vision with your values, how to set goals and many other interesting topics such as confidence building and selling.

 

The Freelancer’s Second Curve

Business commentator and social philosopher Charles Handy based the idea for his latest book – The Second Curve: Thoughts on Reinventing Society – on the curve that describes the normal lifecycle of products, markets and organisations. He developed the Second Curve metaphor to help individuals and organisations manage their transitions more smoothly and more effectively in a world where technological change is occurring at an ever-increasing rate.

The lifecycle of every product, service, organisation or market can be divided into 4 phases over time. The first phase, called the Inception Phase, often starts with a dip which corresponds to an initial period of learning and investment. In the case of an individual starting a freelancing career, for instance, this initial dip can include a period of training and experimenting, as well as the purchase of office equipment, software applications and professional memberships. During this phase, a freelancer is likely to spend more money than they earn.

All going well, the Inception Phase is then followed by a period of Growth during which the product, service or organisation improves, becomes more and more efficient and strengthens its reputation. Our freelancer feels energised and confident as more and more work comes in.

The curve then reaches a third phase called the Maturity Phase. At that stage, individuals and organisations often feel comfortable and remain unaware of the fact that stagnation is setting in as their product/service reaches a plateau. In the case of our freelancer, this could mean working full-time, with no capacity left for new clients, hence no growth.

The curve finally enters a phase of Decline, which can be caused by a number of factors, including obsolescence, the introduction of new products or services by competitors, a shift in the needs of the market and new technologies. Our freelancer could for instance be superseded by a competitor who charges less or uses technology that is better suited to the clients’ needs.

According to Charles Handy, there’s no need to worry about the Decline Phase as there can always be a second curve, ie a chance to start a new growth cycle with a new product or service or new business practices. The key, however, is to start this new cycle before the first curve peaks, when there are enough resources available to cover the initial dip in the new curve. Taking risks and initiating a change is much more difficult in a state of decline, when time, money, energy and confidence levels are falling.

 

The Freelancer's Second Curve

In the case of our freelancer, a second curve could mean subcontracting to other freelancers before reaching full capacity, when there’s still time available for networking and getting to know potential partners. Here are a few more examples of possible second curves:

  • Starting your freelance business while you’re still working for an employer
  • Looking for direct, premium clients while agency work is going strong
  • Launching a new service while the reputation of your original service is still growing
  • Investing in continuing professional development (CPD) to learn about new trends and practices while your current work practices are still viable.

The most successful businesses are the ones that follow the concept of the Second Curve and keep reinventing themselves – Apple is a very good example. But the problem with this concept lies in the difficulty of knowing when the first curve is about to peak, as people don’t tend to think about change in times of growth. “First curve success can blind one to the possibilities of a new technology or a new market, allowing others to seize the initiative” (Charles Handy, The Second Curve).

The secret of continued growth and success is to monitor where you are on the curve and to identify the ideal point of transformation. This is all the more critical in today’s fast-evolving global markets. As Charles Handy puts it in The Age of Paradox: “The world is changing. It is one of the paradoxes of success that the things and the ways which got you where you are, are seldom those that keep you there”.

When in the past did you start a new curve? When did you miss a turn? Where on the curve are you currently standing and what will your next curve be?

How coaching can help:

The aim of coaching is to increase people’s awareness and help them take positive steps towards a successful future. A coach will act as a sounding board and allow you to explore new ideas before putting them into practice. They will remain impartial and non-judgemental while you discuss the reality, as well as the consequences, of taking certain actions. The decision whether or not to start a new curve will always remain yours.

For more information about coaching and what it can do for you, please click here.

You may also like:

The Freelancer’s Business Priorities Wheel

The Freelancer’s Stretch Zone

This post was adapted from a post I first published in Coaching For Translators on June 23rd, 2015.

The Freelancer’s Stretch Zone

When it comes to adapting to new situations or achieving new goals, many people believe that they have a Comfort Zone (where they feel safe and confident) and a Panic Zone (where they feel scared, insecure and/or overwhelmed). In reality, we all have a third, in-between zone called the Stretch Zone, a place where we feel energised, challenged and motivated to take action.

The Freelancer's Stretch Zone

Our Comfort Zone and our Panic Zone couldn’t be more different (one feels good, the other feels bad), yet they share the same danger: stagnation — the former by leading to complacency, the latter by causing paralysis. Our Stretch Zone, on the other hand, is the zone where we take manageable risks, learn new things and grow. It’s the zone where change happens.

Many freelancers, whether they’ve just started or wish to expand their business, give up on their big goals too soon because of the sense of panic they feel when they think about what they’re trying to achieve. In other words, their “End Goal” is in their Panic Zone.

If you find yourself in that situation, the best way to avoid this sense of panic is to focus on the steps that are going to take you safely and efficiently to where you want to be, ie your “Journey Goals”. These steps will guide you through your Stretch Zone, where you will be able to feel more in control, learn new skills, and increase your confidence.

For instance, if your end goal is to work for direct clients and you’ve only worked with agencies so far, your journey goals will include updating your LinkedIn account, researching potential clients, creating a website, networking, etc.

Each time you’ll reach a new journey goal, your Comfort Zone will expand, pushing your Stretch Zone outwards, until it eventually includes your end goal. Your end goal will gradually seem less scary and easier to achieve.

Expanded Stretch Zone

Take a moment to think about what you’re trying to achieve as a freelancer. What would a 10 out of 10 look like? Write it down on a piece of paper. How do you feel about this goal?

Now think about the different areas you will need to focus on in order to reach that goal? Write them down on your piece of paper. Which area will you need to focus on first? How do you feel about this journey goal? If it still feels too scary, how could you break it down into smaller steps?

How Coaching Can Help:

Coaching can help you break your goals down into manageable steps. Your coach will act as a sounding board using effective listening and questioning skills to support you through your Stretch Zone. They will help you stay focused and in control, thus allowing you to reach your goals more quickly and more efficiently than if you were doing it alone. To learn more about coaching and how you could benefit from it, please click here.

This post was adapted from a post I first published in Coaching For Translators on May 18th, 2015.

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The Freelancer’s Business Priorities Wheel

The Freelancer’s Business Priorities Wheel

The Freelancer's Business Priorities Wheel

The Freelancer’s Business Priorities Wheel is based on a tool which is widely used in coaching: the Wheel of Life. It helps you to measure your current levels of satisfaction in key areas of your life (in this case, your work life), and enables you to identify the areas you need to address first in order to achieve better results and a better balance.

The Freelancer’s Business Priorities Wheel contains 8 sections that represent various aspects of your freelance business. The figure above is provided as an example only, and you may wish to use your own categories. For instance, you may wish to break the Clients category into Direct Clients and Agencies, or to rename it Sales or Customer Service. You may also wish to group Marketing, Online Presence and Networking into one single category. The structure of the wheel is up to you.

How It Works

1- Creating the wheel: Get a blank copy of the Freelancer’s Business Priorities Wheel here. Once you have downloaded the file, label the 8 sections of the wheel according to your top 8 categories.

2- Outside each section/category, write down what a “10 out of 10” would look like, i.e. your goal. Be as specific as you can.

3- Rate your level of satisfaction with regards to what you have achieved so far in each category. Zero means “not satisfied” and 10 means “highly satisfied; I have achieved my goal”. Connect the lines to form an inner wheel. This will give you an overview of the balance you have achieved so far between the various areas of your business.

Example (freelance translator):

If the tyres on your car looked like this, how bumpy would the ride be?

4- Interpreting the wheel: Your aim is now to have all categories scored evenly, above 7 and as close to 10 as possible. If some categories are scored lower than 7, investigate how they may interact with each other in order to identify the area to address first.

For example, in the figure above, the translator felt that she had reached a plateau in terms of her productivity. The wheel helped her to identify Continuous Professional Development (CPD) as an area she needed to tackle first. Her low score in that category could be linked to her low score in the Admin Work category, which could be linked to her productivity having plateaued.

5- Taking Action: Once you have identified the category to address first, determine the action you will need to take in order to get one step closer to the goal you wrote down for that category. How are you going to do it? When are you going to do it?

In our example, the translator decided to spend time online the following morning to search for the next available Project Management course for translators.

6- Committing: On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 meaning “Not committed at all” and 10 meaning “Totally committed”, how committed are you to taking the action you identified in step 5? What will be the benefits of taking that action?

I hope you have found this exercise useful. If you’d like more information about coaching and how it could help you achieve your goals, please click here.

This post was adapted from a post I first published in Coaching For Translators on April 2nd, 2015.

Interdependence – The Key To Success

I first published this post a year ago on Coaching For Translators. I am now sharing it here with you because it is relevant to all freelancers, not just translators. I hope you find it useful too.

Coaching For Translators

One of the main challenges freelance translators have to face is isolation. Working alone for hours on end, day after day, can have a negative impact on our mood, while in the absence of a boss looking over our shoulder focusing and staying productive can soon become quite tricky. But there’s an even greater danger, as Stephen Covey explains in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: isolation prevents us from being truly successful.

Covey’s Maturity Continuum shows how, to be able to realise our full potential and reap the rewards, we need others. We need to connect and move from Independence (something many freelancers value) to Interdependence (the highest level of maturity): “Dependent people need others to get what they want. Independent people can get what they want through their own effort. Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.”

We start life in a state of Dependence. We…

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