Chinese-English Vocabulary Builder: Chinese Idioms with Hearts (心)

  1. 心知肚明 (xīn zhī dù míng)- To be well aware. 心: heart, mind. 知: to know. 肚: gut.  明: clarity; to understand.
    例句: 陳太太對丈夫的外遇心知肚明但卻沒勇氣揭發他。
    Example: Although Mrs. Chen is well-aware of her husband’s affair, she doesn’t have the courage to expose him.
  2. 心甘情願 (xīn gān qíng yuàn)-Out of one’s will; completely willing. 心: heart, mind, soul. 甘: voluntary. 情: feeling, sentiment.  願: wish, desire.
    例句: 為了讓孩子能有最好的未來,父母們心甘情願付出所有的一切。
    Example: Parents are willing to give all they can to guarantee the best future for their children.
  3. 意猶未盡 (yì yóu wèi jìn)-To wish to continue something. 意: idea, thought, intentions. 猶: like, similar to. 未: not yet. 盡: completed.
    例句: 此宴席在大家意猶未盡時結束。一夥人接著上酒吧續趴。
    Example: The reception ended before everyone was ready for the night to end. A group of people then went to a bar for the after party.
  4. 誠心誠意 (chéng xīn chéng yì)-Sincerely and earnestly. 誠: sincere, honest. 心: heart, mind, soul. 意: intentions.
    例句: 他誠心誠意的想跟你做朋友,你就答應他的邀約嘛。
    ExampleHe sincerely wants to be friends with you; why don’t you just go out with him?
  5. 提心吊膽 (tí xīn diào dǎn)-To be on edge. 提: to carry. 心: heart. 吊: hang. 膽: gallbladder. 
    例句: 自從他不小心冒犯他的上司,他在工作上總是提心吊膽,身怕被解職。
    Example: He’s been on edge, worried for his job, ever since he unintentionally offended his supervisor.
  6. 掉以輕心 (diào yǐ qīng xīn)-To be complacent, to lower one’s guard, or to treat something lightly. 掉: swing. 輕心: careless, casual.
    例句: 即便這是個安全的社區,晚上出門還是得處處留心,不得掉以輕心。
    Example: Even though this is a safe neighborhood, one should still be vigilant at night.
  7. 心平氣和 (xīn píng qì hé)-Calm and even tempered. 心: heart, mind, soul. 平: peaceful. even. 氣: breath; spirit. 和: harmonious.
    例句: 他的個性很好,即便情況不如意,他還是能心平氣和地處裡它。
    Example: He is well-tempered and is calm even when dealing with unpleasant situations.
  8. 別出心裁 (bié chū xīn cái)-To come up with a new idea or original approach. 別: different. 出: come up with. 心裁: idea, concept.
    例句: 她別出心裁,把窗簾拿來做裙子。
    ExampleShe came up with an idea and made a dress out of her curtains.
  9. 賞心悅目(shǎng xīn yuè mù)-Something that is pleasing and delightful. 賞: to appreciate. 心: heart, soul, mind. 悅: please, happy. 目: eyes.
    例句: 看完那部賞心悅目的電影後,她笑不合嘴。
    ExampleShe couldn’t stop smiling after that delightful movie.
  10. 粗心大意 (cū xīn dà yì)-To be negligent or careless. 粗心:  careless. 大意: careless.
    例句: 他總是粗心大意,忘東忘西的。
    Example: He’s so careless that he forgets things all the time.

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References used:
MDBG Chinese-English Dictionary http://www.mdbg.net
Yahoo 奇摩字典 http://tw.dictionary.yahoo.com

When I Can’t Say “No” and the Virtue of Logging Hours

No, a one syllable, two-alphabet word, appears simple and direct, but is in fact one of the most difficult words to utter or type out. When it comes to potential projects that come our way, there are times when we want to or know that we should say no, but just have a hard time doing it. We end up taking on the project and regretting it once we dive into it, knowing that the instincts to reject the project was correct after all.

Knowing the reason(s) why we want to say no is the first step to mastering this difficult task. A few reasons that come to mind are:
1. The pay is too low for the time you would spend on it.
2. The client has a bad history of not paying on time, or paying at all.
3. You’re already over-committed and won’t be able to give the project the focus and care it deserves.
4. You’ve had bad experiences working with this client.

After figuring out the reason(s) why you want to say no, think about why you’re hesitant to cross off this project immediately. Examples may be:
1. Money is money, you can use any amount that you can get.
2. You’re  just starting out and think that taking on this project would get you more experience.
3. This job might lead to future jobs.

These are all logical reasons for saying yes, but ultimately, you’ll have to decide if the cons outweigh the pros. In the end, the main reason you should say no is because: It is not worth your time, energy, or headache! If the pay is too low, then you shouldn’t waste your time on it. If you know that the client has a difficult time paying, and waiting is not an option for you, don’t do it. If you’ve been tormented before with a client, don’t waste your valuable time haggling with the client again.

Know Your Worth
As a freelancer, especially one who is just starting off, any opportunity seems appealing, even if the pay is low. We tell ourselves, 「I’ll do this for a while until I get more experience, then I’ll charge more,」 but I can speak from experience that it does not go this way. Once you agree to low-ball your rate, you’ll be stuck with it, which is why it’s important to know your worth and to try your best to stick to it.

It’s important to know the worth of your time and expertise. One way to calculate this is by calculating your hourly rate by breaking down the salary you would receive as a full-time employee. For example, if your goal is to make a gross income of $50,000, divide that by 52 weeks in a year and 8 hours a day, you’ll find that your hourly rate should be around $24. If you’re able to edit 4 pages per hour, then your rate-per-page would be around $6/page. Use these numbers to guide your rate, and stick to it, as much as you can.

But Where Do We Draw the Line?
But what if you really can’t say no? What if you can’t resist passing on a project? If you feel that you have to take on a project even though it is under budgeted, managing your time by logging your hours is the best way to help you use your time efficiently. For example, if you are asked to edit a 150-page textbook at $2/page, use your hourly rate calculated earlier to figure out how much time you should spend on this project. This project will bring in $300 for you. If your hourly rate is $24, then you should make sure that you only spend around 12 hours on it. This will help you control your schedule and will also minimize wasted time. For tracking hours, I like to use Toggl.com, a free time-management service that helps you to track multiple projects. It’s easy to use and it also has pro service for $5/month that can help you generate bills, estimates, and reports.

How do you decide whether to say no to a client?

Chinese-English Vocabulary Builder: Chinese Idioms

  1. 叫苦不迭 (jiào kǔ bu dié)-To complain incessantly. 叫: to cry out, to shout. 苦: hardship, suffering. 不: no. 迭: repeatedly, frequently.
    例句: 王太太對購物、血拼的愛好讓皮夾子縮小的王先生叫苦不迭。
    Example: Ms. Wong’s love for shopping has led to many complaints from Mr. Wong, who holds a shrinking wallet.
  2. 匪夷所思 (fěi yí suǒ sī)-Unthinkable or extraordinary actions or ideas. 匪: same. 非 (fēi), not. 夷: ordinary. 思: think.
    例句: 這件謀殺案令人匪夷所思,十年了還是解不出來。
    Example: This is a difficult murder case that has yet to be solved even after ten years.
  3. 唯利是圖 (wéi lì shì tú)- To seek personal profit over everything. 唯: only. 利: gains, profit. 圖: to covet, to seek.
    例句: 此公司的創辦人唯利是圖,不在乎廉價材料和低廉的品質仍以高價出售產品,賺取高盈利。
    Example: The founder of this company seeks profit over everything, selling his products at high prices with high returns despite their cheap materials and  l0w quality.
  4. 得不償失 (dé bù cháng shī)- The gains do not make up for the losses. 得: to gain. 不: not. 償: return, to compensate. 失: to lose.
    例句: 失戀後她連續睡了好幾個星期,課也沒去上,結果影響了成績。真是得不償失。
    Example: After her breakup, she slept for weeks, missing her classes and thus affecting her grades. So not worth it.
  5. 打草驚蛇 (dǎ cǎo jīng shé)- To inadvertently alert an enemy.   打: to hit. 草: grass. 驚: startle, alert. 蛇: snake.
    例句: 玩躲貓貓時千萬不能出聲,打草驚蛇,免得被找著。
    Example: In the game of hide and seek, you must not make any sounds to alert the seeker, in case of getting caught.

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References used:
MDBG Chinese-English Dictionary http://www.mdbg.net
Yahoo 奇摩字典 http://tw.dictionary.yahoo.com
Bai Du 百科 http://baike.baidu.com
國語日報辭典

Are You Passionate about What You Do?

Most people I know commute thirty minutes to an hour each way to get to work, myself included, so I was amazed when I met someone whose apartment is a  five-minute walk  from his job. The trade-off, however, is that he has to commute everywhere else he goes–including getting groceries. His rationale was that with a five-day workweek and two-day weekend, it makes sense to have a easier commute during the week. If he needs to go anywhere on the weekends, he can easily take public transportation or the taxi. It’s worth it to commute on the weekends if his weekly commute is only ten minutes a day. This made total sense to me. This time-spent logic made me realize that a lot of people I’m around are not exactly happy with or passionate about the jobs they spend most of their time in. Isn’t that such a waste?

Too many people I talk to dislike their jobs. Because of this, it’s always a nice change to encounter people who are excited about their job and career prospects.

Life is too short to be unhappy in a job, so you should do something about it. The first, of course, is to evaluate whether you are in the wrong career or whether it is your attitude that you need to change. A few things to consider:

  1. What is making you unhappy about your job?
  2. Is this something that you can change or is it something you need to take up to your supervisor or higher ups?
  3. Take action. Speak to your supervisor to initiate change, or start looking for other options.

If you decide that you are in the wrong career path, maybe it’s time to consider what other options you have. What could make you happier? What inspires you? What kind of life do you dream for yourself? It’s easy to say that it’s too late to make changes, which is why people stick to the same old job that they dread walking into each day, but is it worth it? Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it; and it’s not too late for change.

  1. Consider doing research about your desired career path.
  2. Talk to people who have the job you might want and get their input.
  3. Take courses to get a better understanding of the field.
  4. Attend networking events to let people know about your interest.
  5. Take advantage of the opportunities that will bring you closer to a better place.

If unfortunately you can’t switch careers, at least try to find a hobby or interest that you can be passionate about so that there is something to look forward to at the end of your day or week. Life is too short to be unhappy.

Cheers!