In any career, being a self-starter and staying committed to your own success is essential for growth. In particular, trucking is a field that is very well-suited to self-motivated individuals. Since long-haul drivers are typically paid per mile rather than per hour worked, your performance is directly tied to how much money you take home. Knowing how to set clear and realistic trucking goals is an essential skill to develop throughout your career in order to set yourself up for success.
Here are some tips for setting and achieving goals as a trucker:
1. Think About What Motivates You
Everyone has values that are important to them, and tapping into this can give you more fuel to achieve your goals. It also helps you narrow down which goals are most in line with your values so you can give them more focus and attention.
For example, you may be motivated by your family, by long-term financial goals, or by a desire to reach specific career milestones. When working toward your goal feels challenging, remind yourself of this motivation and why it is important for you to persevere.
2. Start With One Goal at a Time
Splitting your focus between several goals makes it more difficult to give your full energy to each one, and makes it less likely that you’ll succeed. Instead, start with one goal that is most important to you. Once you’ve completed this goal (or made significant progress, in the case of a long-term goal), then you can start adding more to your list.
3. Set SMART Goals
One system for setting goals is known as the SMART system, and this can help you set goals that are more achievable. It also gives you a clear roadmap to follow. SMART is an acronym, and each letter represents an aspect of the goal you are setting.
We’ll use working toward a healthy lifestyle as an example to illustrate each of the principles of SMART goals since this is a common goal for truckers. However, you can apply this to any goal you wish to set, from getting more miles to managing your time on the road.
S – Specific
If your goal is too general, it’ll be difficult to know when you’ve achieved it. Instead, it should be specific enough to track. For example, “getting healthy” would be too broad, but narrowing in on a specific aspect of health like “working out more” would be easier to manage.
M – Measurable
You need to be able to measure your progress and have a clear indication of when you have reached a goal. In the example of “working out more,” you could make this measurable by setting a number of times a week to exercise and a length of time, such as two thirty-minute workouts a week.
A – Attainable
Setting challenging goals for yourself can help you grow, but your goals need to be within the realm of possibility. When it comes to working out, this can be a challenge for long-haul truckers since you may not have regular access to a gym or a lot of free time when you’re on the road. This is why starting small with two thirty-minute workouts each week is often more reasonable than trying for long workouts five or more days out of the week. Of course, you could increase or decrease this goal depending on your specific lifestyle, as long as you can honestly say it is attainable for you.
R – Relevant
Your goal should be relevant to your values. Otherwise, you won’t be motivated to work toward it. Following the example, this is relevant to many truckers’ lives because trucking is a sedentary career, and moving more is better for your heart and long-term health. You can also identify specific motivations that are powerful to you, like getting healthy for the sake of your family or in order to improve a specific health problem.
T – Time-Bound
Setting a time limit on goals helps you stay focused. For something recurring like working out regularly, you can set a time of a month to start so you can get used to doing so, then revisit the goal. For longer-term goals, the time limit should be reasonable. You want to challenge yourself, but you also want to make sure you can actually achieve your goal in the amount of time you set.
Grow Your Trucking Career
If your SMART goal is to grow your career with a family-owned trucking company, join the team at DSW. We’re currently hiring over-the-road and regional truckers and we offer competitive pay and benefits.