Aiming higher in 2019

With 2018 now in the rear view mirror we can reflect on recent changes in our industry and how we do our daily routine. Freight has been better than I’ve seen it in a long time. Driver pay has increased—in some cases quite dramatically. And in almost every area of the country, parking has become one of the most prized commodities. We’ve all seen it throughout the previous year and I’ve written about it thoroughly enough. So, let us look not at where we’ve already been, but where we will be moving forward.

At the beginning of 2018, I set three goals for the year. Had it not been for the tragedy of the flying tire/rim that struck my truck and took it off the road for a full 31 days, I would have achieved them all.

My goals were so high that many drivers told me they were impossible. In my case, that’s the extra motivation I needed to push myself harder to make them happen. As I look at the year behind me, I realize that as lofty as my goals were, I didn’t set them high enough—since I would have reached them all. Time to set them higher!

I understand that for many drivers trucking is just a job. And that is perfectly alright. But for others, it’s a lifestyle where they can continually build and sharpen their skills over the years—competing with themselves to achieve something more than they did before. That’s definitely the case with me. I had a battalion commander in my early days at Ft. Hood Texas who had a simple philosophy. “If you aren’t moving ahead, then you are falling behind.” Words I’ve lived by throughout my military career and my 24 years in trucking.

With the upcoming potential changes to the H.O.S. rules, such as the possible elimination of the 30-minute break that many drivers feel is an unneeded waste of our 14 hour clock, to the reintroduction of the flexible sleeper berth provision to give us more options during our day, I can see the possibilities for increased miles and hence, greater pay for the coming year. I have hopes that at some point we may even get a little more available driving time.

Those drivers like myself who look forward with hope and anticipation of better days ahead are likely already planning how to make the coming year more productive than last year. The key, in my opinion, is to set new goals. And set them just beyond the reach of what you think is possible. It definitely makes achieving them that much sweeter when the day comes.

Experience has already taught many drivers what works well—and what doesn’t. And as each year goes by—even if you’ve been out here for 20-30-40 years—you can still look back only a few years and see how much your skills have grown since then. As the saying goes, when you finally reach a point where you feel there’s nothing left to learn out here, it’s probably time to hang up the keys. Even at my level, I know I still have a lot left to learn before that day comes.

So if trucking is more than just a job to you, and it’s what you have that deep down internal passion for, then I encourage you to give it all you can, while you can, and put some goals in front of you to shoot for. You may only receive a self-administered pat on the back for making them, but you’ll still know that you did something special. But most importantly, don’t hammer yourself if you fail to reach them. It’s the effort that is important. And sometimes, you may have to take more than one shot at reaching them. Remember, Thomas Edison failed trying to make an electric light bulb 1,000 times. But he succeeded—once. That was far more important in the long run.

So let’s all look forward to 2019 with the hope that it brings us better times ahead. A lot of our future in this industry is shaped by our actions both as individuals and collectively. Let’s take ourselves upwards to a higher level in every aspect of what we do. Take better care of our customers. Look out for one another and lift each other up with confidence and compassion. We are all in this industry together, and with a positive attitude, we can make it a great time to be here. Drive safely, work hard and play harder. Safe travels my friends.