Taking time for yourself

We as professional drivers are certainly among the most self-sacrificing and hardest working people in the world. We routinely miss special events with family members and holidays—and those who love us know it comes with the job. But I’m probably one of the biggest perpetrators of neglecting myself—and often times my family. I’m a terrible workaholic. Many of us, to use an analogy, would spend a small fortune on holiday gifts for others, but look at something relatively inexpensive for ourselves and pass it up without a second thought. I’ve already long since covered my Chrismas gift spending on my family—about a couple thousand dollars. And yet feel a bit guilty buying myself a new set of fancy chef’s knives that were under $200. I find myself second guessing my purchase thinking, “Do I really need those?”.

We live in an industry where sacrifice for the betterment and needs of others comes at the cost of our own quite often. It can become a deeply rooted habit, as it has in my particular case. So, what can we do to improve our overall feeling of fulfillment and happiness? Every driver must answer that question for themselves. But there are things we can look at to make the quality of the time we spend out on the road better—as well as the time we spend at home with friends and family.

As many of the readers here and on the Crete forums are aware, I’m a staunch believer in running resets vs recaps every time. But as always, if recaps are what you feel works best for your style of running, then I feel you are doing the right thing too. For me, I like the higher mileage and running as hard as freight and delivery appointments will allow for my reset week—and then taking a full day-and-a-half off for myself. I need the free time to wind myself down, which is no easy task with my workaholic mindset. I use the time to follow my other passions like writing for Crete and my monthly articles in a major trucking magazine. I always have something that needs to be done.

But where many of you may find yourselves in agreement with me, is that we don’t really take much time to do anything for ourselves. I’m currently sitting off to the side of a customer doing this week’s reset because it’s the “productive” thing to do. I could have sacrificed having to start my reset over by driving some distance to a truck stop or a drop yard and taken myself out for a good meal and maybe a movie. Perhaps going to some other local attraction to enjoy something new. Yet here I sit, working like always. It’s just in my nature—and 25 years of habits. But on the upside, I do enjoy my writing for Crete and others so I guess this week, I’ll do this. Maybe next week I’ll do something for me. How many times have we all said that to ourselves?

But onward into one of my new found passions that even if I only do it once or twice a year, has become an instant favorite. Going on a cruise. My first one was last January and was a celebrity cruise with the cast and crew of The Walking Dead. I think I was hooked within five minutes of boarding the ship. Now I’m looking forward to the sequel coming up in February. Granted, these specialty cruises are quite costly. But I’m enjoying something I may never be able to do again. But, back to cruises. Standard cruises are actually remarkably affordable.

The food in the buffets is 24/7 and pretty good overall. But what really blew my mind was the Premium Dining Package that you can pre-purchase. It gives you the choice of dining in many 5 star specialty restaurants for a price far below most decent restaurants. For about $20 per meal, the food is beyond words in quality, presentation, and flavor. And they give you so much—my wife and I ate all four nights at the premium restaurants and never once made it to dessert. For example, when we dined in the Italian restaurant, you could choose 2 appetizers, your entree and then dessert. One of the available appetizers was a 12″ pizza! I did the calamari doubled up and had a shrimp pasta for my meal, and I was full. Where can you get that out here for $20? I can spend $20 at a fast food joint and this is a 5 star quality restaurant. However, I recommend against purchasing high-cost alcohol packages. They just aren’t worth it for most people.

There is always something happening on the ship for entertainment. When you reach a port, you can go on excursions that are certain to check off items on your bucket list. Last January in Cozumel we signed up for the dolphin swim, and it was AMAZING!!! Talk about a great experience. But there were dozens of things to choose from. Snorkeling, dune buggy driving, tours of ancient ruins, mini speed boats, helicopter tours, kayaking through underground waterways and much, much more. There’s truly something for everyone. This next cruise is to Nassau in the Bahamas and one excursion I’m really thinking about doing is the 2 tank diving experience in the shark reef. I’m not sure my wife is in on that one, LoL.

But here’s where I think cruising is a true blessing in disguise for those of us out here at the 24/7 beck and call of trucking life. No one can reach you by phone. Not unless you buy a rather costly data plan onboard. But I say no way! Spending a number of days completely disconnected from the rest of the world did wonders to relax me and recharge my batteries with a sense of calm. Your phone—in my opinion and experience—is just a glorified camera on a cruise. It was so nice to not hear the *jingle, buzz, beep, or ring* a hundred times a day. For me, it was heaven. And so nice to be able to enjoy REAL, uninterrupted quality time with the woman I spend so much time apart from in my daily life.

But this is just one of many countless things you can do to reward yourself as well as your family with doing. My point is this, find something you can do besides sitting at home or working on chores. Take some real quality time for yourself away from the road and get out there and enjoy life for a bit. You’ll come back feeling so much better. I promise you that. Please post in the comments section things you do, or want to do that bring you happiness and fulfillment so that others can maybe get some good ideas as well.