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Sometimes saying no is the only option

There is no doubt that if you choose driving as a career, there will be personal sacrifices you will have to make.

There is no doubt that if you choose driving as a career, there will be personal sacrifices you will have to make.

Longhaul work requires an investment of your time that is necessary to get the job done.

Let’s face it, I can’t drive to Winnipeg and home every week if I’m looking for a job with a 40-hour workweek.

Common sense dictates that you will never be happy in your work as a professional longhaul driver if your mind is constantly craving to be at home or dwelling on the frustrating elements of this work that pop up on a regular basis.

There are options of course. You can still drive locally or regionally to reduce or eliminate having to sleep in your workplace. That being said, you don’t have to give up all of your personal aspirations and goals on your bucket list just because you drive longhaul for a living, nor should you.

You have to be careful in this industry not to allow others to possess total control of your time.

A good example of this is the carrier that operates on the basis of maxing out a driver’s 70-hour workweek.

We should always remember, especially if you are new to this industry, that the 70/7 driving maximum was put in place as a safety standard, not an employment standard that employers can force their employees to meet as they see fit.

Finding a balance that keeps you fit both mentally and physically while reaping the benefits of the freedom and joy this driving lifestyle can bring you is truly the sole responsibility of the individual driver. There are times when you need to say no to the freight and say yes to some personal time in order to look after yourself.

Your employer can benefit from that decision just as much as you will. After all, a happy and healthy driver is a productive driver.

This point was driven home to me after working out at my health club the other day.

First, let me give you a little background. If you visit me in this space with any regularity you know that I stepped on the road to health and fitness a decade ago and it is an important part of my daily life.

I put the time I need each day to care for myself at the top of my priority list and it changed my life. But I always struggled in the winter months to maintain my fitness. The cold and snow I encounter on the road to Winnipeg every winter is not conducive to walking or running.

So I decided to join a fitness club this past winter to maintain my health. It’s a national club with locations in cities I drive through regularly; a perfect solution for the winter months.

I work with a personal trainer at my home club and for the past two sessions we were stepping into the next phase of my training, searching for the perfect resistance on each machine that would see me not quite able to lift the weight on the last couple of repetitions on the last set of exercises for each muscle group.

On the squat machine this happened to be 100 lbs of weight. As I was driving to Winnipeg the following day, it hit me that I had almost lost 100 lbs of weight off my body since the autumn of 2001. Ten years ago that 100 lbs was a burden that I carried with me every day.

With a family history of heart disease, I was a ticking time bomb and it was then that I set a goal of reaching a good state of overall health by age 50. I not only met that goal I surpassed it and continue to reach new highs that 10 years ago would have seemed more like fantasy to me than a realistic set of goals.

In effect, that 100-lb burden I carried on my body has become a level of resistance that is now contributing to my health and wellbeing. What a beautiful example of how taking a little time for yourself can benefit you over the long run. I’ll remember this every time the thought ‘I don’t have time’ arises in my mind.

So, have the times I’ve had to say no to the freight in order to have some personal time to fulfill my own personal goals been worth it? You bet they were. Has my employer benefited from these results? Of course they have.

As professional drivers we need to take possession of our time and not allow others to dictate its terms of use. I’m convinced this is the path to a balanced life on the road. Nobody else will do this for us.

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