People rarely drop out of trucking because they can't drive the truck. They drop out because mentally and emotionally they weren't prepared for such a long and difficult road. Preparation is one of the keys to success in any endeavor so I want to make sure you go into it with a strong mindset and the right expectations.Join The Discussion
Hey folks, this is Brett Aquila with truckingtruth.com and today I want to talk about taking the right approach mentally to getting your trucking career underway.
Now as you know, at truckingtruth we try like crazy to help prepare you for life on the road. We talk a lot about some of the specific hardships you'll face, including lonliness, stress, exhaustion, tough personalities, long days, erratic sleep patterns, and of course all sorts of terrible traffic and weather along the way.
But in the end it's impossible for most people to relate to some of these problems because it isn't anything they've experienced in the past. For instance, as a solo driver you're going to be alone in that truck far more than you would ever expect. It will not be uncommon to spend 18 hours a day, or more, inside that truck alone, completely isolated from everyone. That level of isolation isn't something that most people experience very often.
On top of that, it's also common for over the road drivers to spend several weeks travelling the country without seeing a single person they know. I mean, think about that for a moment. Have you ever even gone two or three days without seeing a single person you know? No family, no friends, no acquaintances? Nobody? Rarely will most people go one or two days without seeing someone they know, let alone weeks at a time without any relief.
Now that level of solitude and isolation can be quite a traumatic experience for a lot of people, especially those who are used to being together all the time with their families back home.
This is just one example of the hardships you'll face out there, many of which will be a completely new experience for you. And as you might expect, most of the time you'll be facing numerous challenges all at once.
So it's nearly impossible to prepare someone for things they haven't experienced in the past, and it's also impossible to prepare you for every single challenge you might face out there, of course.
So the best thing you can do is approach your training the way you would approach going through 'boot camp' in the military. You should go into it expecting your first year to be pretty much a neverending stream of tough challenges. You're going to experience some of the biggest swings in your mood, your confidence, and your optimism that you may have ever experienced in your life.
You know, there's gonna be times when you're so excited about travelling the country in a big rig that you won't believe they're paying you to do it. But there's also be times you're convinced you made a huge mistake getting into trucking in the first place. Trust me when I say this - almost all of you at some point are going to want to pack your bags, head home, and never think about trucking again the rest of your life. Unfortunately a lot of people do exactly that early on in their careers and it's a real shame because many of them would have been outstanding drivers that went on to have long, enjoyable careers. But because they weren't prepared mentally for how difficult this job and lifestyle can be they quickly just became overwhelmed with the whole thing and walked away.
So no matter how difficult the many challenges are you'll be facing, you have to find it within yourself to fight through it and stay the course. Don't lose sight of the big picture. In fact, you should keep one specific goal in mind right from the start - getting through your rookie year safely with your first company. That's it. No matter what challenges you face out there you have to push through it and get to that one year mark safely .
In fact, when you're facing tough times you have to keep reminding yourself that you knew this was coming and that (hopefully) tomorrow is going to be a better day. Not always, but most of the time. And you know, these difficult times are always temporary. Eventually they'll make for some of the most enjoyable stories you'll have to tell people over the years. So keep the tough times in perspective. You don't want to make career altering and life altering choices because you're having a bad day.
In fact, one of the policies I have is never make major decisions during emotional times. For instance, you don't want to quit your job in the middle of a terrible day where it's 40 degrees and raining, you have a terrible cold, you're stewing over an argument you had on the phone with someone back home, and just nothing is going your way.
I mean, stop and think about it for a moment. Do you have to quit your job right this second? Of course not. You can certainly make it through one more day, right? So wait until you're having a great day and then decide if you want to quit your job. If it's 70 degrees and sunny, you've just had a wonderful breakfast, the scenery is incredible, and everything is going your way and yet you STILL want to quit your job, at least then you know you're making a logical decision instead of an emotional decision and that's really important. Emotional decisions made in the heat of the moment almost always turn out to be a big mis take.
So go into that first year with one simple goal in mind - surviving your rookie year safely with your first company. That's it. And attack that goal knowing you're going to face all sorts of hardships and setbacks along the way, exactly as you would expect if you went into 'boot camp' in the military. You're never going to get anywhere in this career if you're the type to tuck your tail and run when things get tough.
And at the same time, don't worry, there IS going to be a ton of fun along the way too. Running coast to coast in a beautiful American big rig is one of the most awesome adventures anyone could ever hope to embark on and I really hope you won't lose sight of that along the way. But make no mistake about it.....this is not a vacation. This is a seriously challenging and risky endeavor. If you want to survive and thrive out there on the road you have to learn to embrace the challenges and face them head on. Don't lose sight of the end goal. Getting through that rookie year is a huge accomplishment that you're going to be incredibly proud of and it's going to establish your trucking career on a solid foundation for years to come.
So go out there with that attitude that you're not going to settle for anything less than reaching your goals and don't let anyone stand in your way. That's the approach it's going to take and I certainly hope you'll find it within yourself to make that happen.