Fuel for Thought

Optimist or Pessimist

By Greg Huggins
Posted Nov 2nd 2023 5:08AM

For the owner operator, trip planning is an essential part of trucking. Proper trip planning can be the difference between success and failure. You always want to take into account mileage and time needed, but also consider factors such as weather conditions along your route and terrain. Properly planning your  meal or rest breaks can greatly impact your travel time. Consideration should also be given to your fuel stops, poor planning on this expenditure can greatly impact your profitability of the trip. 

The big question is, are you a pessimistic or optimistic planner? 

Pessimistic planners always seem to find excuses for why something might not work. What if I run into a major traffic delay? What if I get stuck in a construction zone road closure? What if they take too long to load the truck? Why is the schedule so tight?

I understand planning for the worst, but, c’mon, within reason. Why plan to fail? Why make your trip a worrisome drive?

The optimistic planner finds a way to make things work. A properly planned trip has contingency plans. If road A is unavailable, take road B. Of course there will be traffic in certain areas, perhaps my timing could be adjusted to not get stuck in it. Construction zone road closures are generally not something you can plan ahead of time, so why worry about it. If the shipper takes too long to load, you may simply need to adjust delivery times or plan for split sleeper berth times to still arrive as needed.

If you plan around failures, you will most likely encounter them. When you plan for success, you are prepared for the unexpected with options. Be the solution. Giving up is not an option. Be realistic about the goals you can accomplish and then strive to improve those goals.

Woe is me is the anthem of the pessimistic planner, even when they themselves do not hear it. We, the optimistic realists, hear your battle cry of misery very loudly. No one wants to hear you complain about all the problems you could encounter when you are planning your trip (a trip that we do all the time without all the worries). 

If planning your trip is that miserable of an experience for you, perhaps trucking is not for you, or maybe you should be a company driver with a dispatcher to tell you where, when and how. Being an owner operator is not for everyone. 

Poorly planned trips can quickly be identified when you talk with a pessimistic planner. What road are you taking? Are you going through [insert name of a major city]? The answer is usually “I don’t know”. How can you possibly think you have properly planned your trip for success when you do not even know how you are getting there or which cities you will pass through?

Take the time to plan your route, with optional routes, and relieve some of the stress on your trips. 

Remember the 6 P's - Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance.

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort. 

- Paul J. Meyer

See you down the road,