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The title explains the entire purpose of this article, nevertheless some take this subject too lightly for their own good and as such I decided to add a little more fuel on the fire and give you all a little something more to think about.
Most of you already know this, that vacation time is something precious to us who work in the language service providing business, but perhaps some of you never actually considered how important it can be to both your economic as well as mental condition to have some down time each year.
I will not presume to lecture you on how you should arrange your schedule or if you should or should not take a vacation from work and just relax for a few days, all I intend to do is present a personal point of view, that may in some cases give you something more to think about next time you decide to take a few days off from work and just relax.
I believe that, as perhaps many of you do as well, that vacation time is important, nevertheless it would not be the first time that I decided to postpone my own vacation because of a recent project, that just seemed to good to pass out at the time. Sure I did the work, and added more money to by bank account, and of course that felt good, but then it happened again, and yet again, and I come to see that what I was doing was in fact sacrificing my own mental and physical health in order to earn more money while postponing my vacation time indefinitely, a worthwhile endeavour from a capitalist point of view but nevertheless not very productive from a more personal stance.
So, what to do, what to say, how to act, when these things happen, and they do happen quite often. Well in my case I decided it was high time to take a more aggressive approach towards the problem vacation vs. work and decided that I would no longer allow myself to go an entire year (or years for that matter, since that happened as well) without taking a breather. Therefore, I took onto myself the determination to say no (even though, I must confess, it may sometimes falter a little), I will not be available from this to that day, I will be on vacation in Mexico (wouldn’t that not be great) by the beach, or in the Swiss Alps skiing (I would have to learn how first), whatever pleases me the most at the time and work be damned.
Some may consider this approach, as I stated earlier, perhaps too aggressive, and some others may even think yes, that’s the spirit (but let me just pack my laptop as well, you never know). Well, I must say that, I also started the same way, and that this aggressive approach is the result of that failed attempt. I would not want anyone (especially me) to miss out on something new, beautiful and exciting as a new country, a new culture, a new landscape because I was stuck in the hotel room after faltering in my resolution and having just accepted a small project for a client who was just in a hurry. So take that into consideration when organizing your trip to another country or simply to the hot vacation spot in your own country (or in your own house if money is an issue).
There is no doubt that the decision depends on each and every one of you, whether to do this or not, I personally, would leave the laptop at home as well. Anyway, all this said and done, comes of course the self-explanatory reason why we should take a few days off from our own busy schedules. Despite the fact that many people still think that translation and related activities are simple and easy to do, we, that are directly involved everyday know better, don’t we? We know how much the whole process wears and tears us down, with all the psychological strain, the countless hours spent looking at a computer screen, the despair of meeting crazy deadlines and the hopelessness of trying to find some obscure word only to come up with nothing more that half explanations and results and having to “invent” a translation. All this not to mention (in some cases) the badgering from clients that gain nothing by putting up the pressure, and that instead only harm themselves, and also the simple fact that we are not machines and that we, as is our right, need and want some time to enjoy our lifes as we see fit.
We need vacation time as much as anyone else and no doubt about it much more than some other skilled professionals, since we have a very mentally demanding profession. We need a fresh, clear mind and a fair amount of patience to do our jobs right and as such to become even better at whatever endeavour we set our sights to accomplish. This article serves, I hope, to make you think a little more about the need to take the time to free yourself from the busy grind of your everyday busy schedule, and to enjoy life.
After all, if we put the effort to consider all this, what is the use of being 30 or 40 something year old burnt out translator (or some other related activity, for that matter) with too much work and not enough time to rest, and with a heart attack or a stress related depression just waiting to happen. Take the time to smell the roses and of course buy yourself some more years of health with a simple method, learn to say “no, I’ll be on vacation”.
“While I’m young I can work without taking the time to rest” or so many may think in their heads. The idea is “Oh, I’ll rest when I’m older and when I have a fat bank account”, but guess what, that money is going straight to medical bills and drugs to keep you calm and stress-free when that time comes.
I harsh point of view regarding this matter, perhaps, but please don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, and I hope to do it for many and long years to come, nevertheless I also see what is in store for me, and for us as a professional class if we do not take care of our health and enjoy what we have. Never forget that your health comes first and your bank account comes afterwards (and not necessarily right afterwards), even if in most cases it may not seem like it at the time.
Enjoy life and your vacation on the beach or ski slopes, visiting museums, or simply relaxing in your own house or somewhere else, whatever meets your fancy. Simply free your mind from the boundaries and pressure of your work while you can, and take advantage of what this world has to offer, before you realize its too late. In the long run it may prove to be a very advantageous way to spend your time.
David Alexandre (Project Manager/Translator)