We’ve all heard many times that life is a journey. Throughout history, there have been countless “quotable quotes” drawn from this metaphor, designed to enlighten and inspire us. Perhaps one of the more notable of these has been credited to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu who wrote, “The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”
Now I’m certainly no Chinese philosopher. (I’ve never even played one on TV!) I’m just a regular guy. However, having safely navigated well over one million miles in the last 7+ years as a professional truck driver, I feel somewhat qualified to weigh in on the subject of long journeys! I don’t know how inspirational it will be, but hopefully I can draw some parallels that you’ll find helpful. All of us have dreams and goals, destinations we aspire to reach some day. Here’s a little “18 wheeler insight” that might help you in your travels.
Trip Planning is time well spent! My ancient Asian counterpart didn’t really elaborate much on what all that beginning “single step” entails. We could easily interpret his wisdom as a call to action, an encouragement to just start moving, regardless how daunting the road ahead may appear. In my experience, it pays to first spend a little time with a Rand McNally road atlas before releasing the brakes and putting the pedal to the metal! Not having a detailed, well planned route to follow can be disastrous! Have you ever seen a big truck stuck under a low clearance overpass? That’s poor trip planning at its finest. When it comes to establishing your life’s most important goals, the same principle applies. Having a detailed, high definition vision of where you want to go or what you hope to accomplish is crucial. If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, any road will take you there! So where are going?
Pre-Trip Inspections are a must! Each week, I depart my home in Nashville, TN and head for San Diego, CA. That’s a long trip! (2000+ miles) I’d be a fool to just fire up the engine and take off. I have to take a few minutes to check the oil, tires, brakes, lights, fuel, etc., if I want to avoid costly delays later on. The same holds true as we prepare to embark on any journey in life. Shouldn’t you spend some time making sure your “equipment” is up for the trip? It’s probably wise to check the levels of your confidence and character, your abilities, skills, or knowledge. What’s on the check list of resources you’ll need to get the job done? We can’t always see around the next corner and avoid every hazard that may be laying across the road, but we can be proactive in anticipating and preventing some predictable problems.
Pack Lightly! I still remember the first run I made with a trainer when I started my driving career. He told me we might be gone for up to three weeks. Well, I packed almost everything I owned! He just laughed and then helped me “lighten the load”a bit! It never occurred to me there wouldn’t be enough room in the truck for all my bags. In reality, we all have some “old baggage” that can slow us down, if not cripple our efforts entirely. Feelings of guilt, fear, and resentment can definitely weigh you down. Unresolved issues from the past can distract your focus and attention away from your goals. There may even be some people you have to leave behind, if there is to be any hope of fulfilling your dreams. Do you have some heavy burdens hindering your progress?
“Why am I doing this?” Being a truck driver was never on my list of things I wanted to be when I grew up. (it’s still not!) I can honestly say that I’ve never regretted the decision. I’m able to earn an income that supports my family and provides some degree of security for our life and our future. However, there have been countless times that I’ve wanted to quit; an unexpected midnight blizzard crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains, stranded for days after an ice storm, sitting for hours in traffic behind another fatality accident, and every Sunday night when I kiss my wife goodbye. No matter what journey you’re on in life, you will, I promise, experience trials, setbacks and disappointments. You’ll want to give up. There will be times when your “why” will be the only thing prodding you forward. Don’t give up! It will be worth it!
Last tip: Take the scenic route! I don’t often have this as an option. Unfortunately, there are many roads off the beaten path that just aren’t very accommodating for a 70 foot long semi-truck. I have been within 50 miles of the Grand Canyon hundreds of times, yet have never beheld its splendor. I have, however, been able to enjoy many beautiful and breathtaking views through my windshield over the years. We have a tendency to lead very fast paced and impatient lives. Even as kids we were always asking, “are we there yet?” Many of us are so goal oriented and ambition driven, so focused on the results, that we often miss out on the possibilities that lie in the process. Don’t get so caught up in the pursuit of happiness that you forget to find happiness in the pursuit! Remember: This is your life! Enjoy the Trip!
Thanks again for spending a little of your valuable time here with me today! I hope you’ve received a little value in return! If so, please leave some feedback in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you! See you next week!