I Got the Trucker Blues… Lord, What Can I Do?September 29, 2015
Born under a bad sign
I been down since I begin to crawl
If it wasn’t for bad luck,
I wouldn’t have no luck at all.. Booker T Jones
Ever had a bad day in trucking? Did you expect anything different? The reality is that truck driving is a difficult job which requires a lot of discipline, patience and perspective. When I speak to an orientation class, I always ask “Have you ever had one of those days that started off bad? Perhaps a dispatcher or shipper said something that hit you wrong? Perhaps you had a problem at home?” In every case, all the drivers in the class can relate. I then ask, “What happens with your little problem as you drive the next 500 miles?” Again, everyone in the class knows the answer. The problem gets bigger and bigger with each passing mile until, at some point what started as a little problem, something that is a part of life and a part of trucking, has become so big that the driver no longer controls the problem…the problem controls the driver. I have even seen situations where this went on so long that the driver becomes unsafe, because he is distracted.
Why are drivers more prone to this than others? The answer is that they just have too much time to think, and overthinking can lead to real stress, loss of perspective and loss of judgment. Do you worry a lot about the fuel mileage on that last load? Do you find yourself worrying about that rude driver you saw two hours ago? Do you find yourself stewing about that one shipper that held you up? Are you getting upset that a driver manager didn’t get back with you? This leads to tunnel vision. When you find yourself thinking about things such as these, you may be overthinking.
Put things into perspective. We all will experience bad things… it is a part of life. Zoom out and look at the big picture. How are things going on average? How was your MPG that week or that month? How were your miles that month? For the year? I have seen drivers with good miles stressed out over one load and they don’t even know they had good miles. Sometimes drivers really stressed over one bad day, when on the whole they are doing real well. Some get mad and quit, some quit badly, like abandoning a truck. What happens to their problem now? They leave a company they know, waste time in orientation with a company they don’t know and get a bad reference on their DAC. I have learned a good lesson to live by, that is, whatever you do when you are mad is always wrong… always. And if you have a problem with overthinking and stress, changing jobs won’t help you. You’ll just end up taking your thinking habits with you and the cycle with repeat.
If you find yourself in this vicious cycle, here are some things you can try:
- Look at the big picture. Zoom out from the issue stuck in your mind and see how things look from a broader perspective.
- People tend to vent to someone who can’t help them. Maybe they complain on the CB, or on Facebook or to other drivers. What good does that do? Nothing. Communicate with those here whose job it is to help you.
- Go over your long term goals and plans.
- Fix it. Separate the world into two lists: one list is something you can fix and the other is things beyond your control. If something is beyond your control, let it go. Your worry is wasted energy. Redirect that energy on solutions to things you can fix.
- Get moving. Sometimes it’s best to do something to break the overthinking cycle. Take a walk, read, do something.
The best thing you can do is recognize when this is happening to you. Get away from blame, denial and excuses. These are success killers. Call us. We are here to support you.
Happy Trucking! -Tom