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Dealing With Homesickness, And Staying Focused On Being A Succesful Truck Driver

by Old School

On The Road, Be "On The Road". At Home, Be "At Home".

Editor's Note:

One of the hardest parts, if not the hardest part, of becoming an over-the-road truck driver is leaving home. Many people start driving while still living in the area they grew up in, and the feelings of homesickness when they leave their friends, family, and familiarity for life on the road can be overwhelming and confusing, and has torpedoed many driving careers before they even get started.

Recently, one of our members came through the forum asking for advice on how to deal with homesickness. He had recently started his training and was finding it difficult to cope with being away from his family. Old School's response below sums up perfectly what it takes to separate your responsibilities on the road from those at home, and not let your feelings of homesickness dictate your actions or distract from your goals as a driver.

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Original Forum Post:

"Hello everyone training is going well so far and it's the start of my 3rd week away from home. My question for you all is how do you deal with home sickness? The company I am training for said they get you home every 7-10 days and 14 at the most. But I had a week long orientation and didn't have a way home before leaving for training. I'm very very close with my mom and brother and being away for this long is alot more difficult then the driving itself. Any help would be appreciated."

Forum Thread - How Do You Deal With Homesickness?

Old School's Response:

It is part of this job, it just comes with the territory. Anyone who loves and misses their family is never going to get over it so much as they will get more accustomed to not having it drive them crazy so that they are constantly wanting to go back home all the time.

I'm not sure how else to put it, but it is one of the many difficulties of this career. Many drivers choose to just bite the bullet and endure that first year as an OTR driver and then start looking for other opportunities that will allow them to maybe be home on the weekends, or even some folks transition into a home nightly, or local driving job.

I have a friend who has been a truck driver for well over twenty years, but he hated over the road. He has a job where he goes home every night and sleeps in his own bed. That is what worked best for him, even though he makes considerably less money than he could as a high performing OTR driver.

Personally, I love the lifestyle of the over the road driver. I still have my moments where I want to make a bee-line for home. There are days that I just want to be at home and fall into my wife's arms, but there are also days that you couldn't pay me enough money to stop doing this.

My point is that those feelings of home-sickness are somewhat of an emotional roller-coaster type thing and part of being good at this job is to learn how to cope, or deal with the emotional and mental parts of this puzzle. When we talk about folks being top-tier drivers, people always think we are just referring to their ability to endure long bouts at the wheel turning lots of miles each day, but there is really so much more to what it takes to be one of the top performers out here.

Mastering your emotions, being self disciplined and focused are such critical factors to success out here. You simply cannot succeed at this if you're not fully vested mentally and emotionally in what you are trying to accomplish. A driver with a clouded mind and mental distractions is a distracted driver, and that is sometimes just as bad as trying to text and drive at the same time.

My advice as far as "how do you deal with it" is that you have just got to focus on the task at hand. Think about a professional athlete. Their focus is on the prize - they want to win - they want to make that next score. They don't let what ever happened two minutes ago distract them from what they are doing NOW. Every day that I am out here I have got goals that I set for myself, and I focus on making sure those things are met. Nothing is allowed to distract from that, and trust me there are ten thousand things that arise to do just that.

One of those things may very well be my thoughts about my family at home. I don't want to sound hard-hearted, because I am certainly not that in any way. Being focused on my goals benefits my family as much as it does my career - they understand that and actually help me to stay focused. They don't bother me with the little details of life that a normal husband/father would be dealing with. They are my best cheerleaders, because they understand that I love what I do, and they benefit from the generous amount of money I make by being such a focused driver who accomplishes his goals.

That is my advice - Be focused, don't let your thoughts or your emotions master you, or distract you from your goals. Reach those goals, and then start making goals that put you just a little more higher up the ladder before you. Learn how to be productive by understanding all the rules that we work under and how to manage that clock in a way that assists you to be productive.

Always visit with your family, share with them how you are obtaining your goals, and listen to the things that they want to share with you, but the main objective is to stay focused on the task at hand. When you are on the road focus on being on the road - "git er done." When you are at home you can focus on being at home. Just realize that every time you leave the house it will be a few days until you can get yourself back into that mode of being focused on the prize.

There is no getting around that roller coaster effect, but being focused on what you are doing at the time is an effective way of making it work in your favor. When at home be totally focused on being at home. When on the road be totally focused on that. It is when you start trying to blend the two into one is when you lose focus, and as far as I'm concerned that can be dangerous while out on the road.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Over The Road:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

by Brett Aquila

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