We all have crutches or had crutches at one time in our lives.
Not literal crutches but metaphor crutches. Basically, the excuses we tell ourselves to justify why we didn’t, can’t, or shouldn’t.
I’m a husband, a father of four and an active duty Air Force NCO.
Life is busy and it gets hectic on a daily basis. At times, it feels like I’m a lot busier at home than when I’m at work.
Once I leave work, the fight against traffic begins as I go get the kids at three different locations.
When we get home we start on homework then dinner, then time to get ready for the following day. Somewhere in there, we manage to squeeze a workout in. It gets even crazier when after-school activities and other school functions get thrown into the mix.
It’s not easy, but my wife and I somehow make it happen.
In the past, I would use this craziness as an excuse to not do anything.
For a long time, I used my family as crutches to justify to myself that they were the reason that I wasn’t able to do anything.
Basically, I was putting the blame on them for my shortcomings and not taking any of the responsibility. That wasn’t fair to me and it especially wasn’t fair to my family.
However, I was doing it and I’m ashamed of that.
Everything was put on hold and I wouldn’t work out, read, have a guys night or any of the things I used to do that would make me a better me.
Convinced I didn’t have time because of family responsibilities, I would tell friends that I couldn’t hang out because I was too busy. That was the furthest thing from the truth.
Honestly, I was only being lazy.
That’s the best way it can be described and not wanting to admit it to myself, I used my family as a scapegoat.
As a result, I was going crazy.
Not literally, but I wasn’t headed in a good direction.
Depression hit me, out of shape became my norm and I would get easily frustrated.
The change seemed to happen quickly from fit and productive dad to out of shape, full on dad bod with an irritable attitude.
Not to mention unproductive and going through the motions which included work, marriage, and every aspect of life really.
Something had to give.
Change needed to happen immediately if I wanted a better and happy life.
Change is exactly what I did.
The same responsibilities as a husband, father and work are still there. Those will never go away nor do I want them to ever.
And like everyone else, I still have the same 24 hours in a day.
Letting go of my crutches
For starters, I made the decision to stop using my family as a crutch.
They are not responsible for my self-sabotage.
It’s utterly amazing to think back about putting them in that position in the first place.
Prioritization became a key in my change. Prioritizing important things over comfortable things made all the difference in the world.
The 4 steps to getting rid of your crutches
1. Make time for yourself
Whether that’s reading and writing or working out.
That time is made so I could be the best version of myself. This makes me better for my family and anyone else really.
This meant giving up a few things as well.
Giving up the comfortable things that really weren’t moving me in the direction I wanted to go.
These things included late nights, binge-watching television shows or getting lost in the world of social media scrolling.
The weekend bender became a thing of the past, and video games are now something I miss dearly.
If you only knew how much I love to watch movies and play video games, then you would understand how difficult it was for me to drastically limit those.
2. Wake up earlier
For me, this meant returning to my morning routine waking up at 4 am.
Waking up this early gave me at least an hour myself because my day usually starts at 5:30 am.
This time is specifically for personal development. This is not to say that I’m running on 3 or 4 hours of sleep because I’m definitely not.
That’s because I’m going to bed earlier. So, I get 6 or more hours of sleep a night.
3. Set goals
Goals are a must have if your life is to improve.
This can’t be stressed enough.
It must be known how important goals are and the importance of writing them down. Make them part of your daily life and put them where you see them every single day as often as possible.
Having goals and writing them down gives you purpose.
Without purpose we have nothing.
Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning details how purpose and having a “why” gives life meaning. If you haven’t read this book go out and get yourself a copy as soon as you can.
Having goals gives me purpose and they are written down on note cards that I look at every single day.
Some I’ve accomplished and some I’ve missed but I continue to work on them no matter what. Having goals and viewing them every day helped me tremendously.
Evident in one of my most recent accomplishments where I ran my first marathon on my 34th birthday.
That and becoming debt free was another one of the goals that I accomplished last year.
That took some time but I made it happen.
4. Find support
You will not get through this life successfully without help.
Many will say that they are self-made but it’s doubtful that anyone is.
Somewhere along the way, somehow, help was there even if it was not seen as help.
Knowing that I needed help, acknowledging that changes needed to be made, I enlisted the help of my wife.
She’s a rockstar and I needed her support if this was going to work.
I’m not great at asking for help and I’m not sure if anyone really is, so it wasn’t easy to ask.
However, I did ask.
Pushing the ego aside I asked for her help.
She has given me 100% support of the changes and I have given her mine. Far from perfection, but we know what we’re working for and do so as best we can.
Fast forward to the present day and life is a lot different without crutches.
It’s a hundred times better.
Days are still hectic and busy is still a word you can use to describe our home life.
The difference is it’s all surrounded by growth and happiness that I choose to make for myself. The way I feel about myself and the direction that my life is going is something to be excited about.
Since all the necessary changes made, I’ve been promoted, I’m back into good shape, I’m reading and writing every single day.
Our marriage has improved and I’m still getting better at this dad thing.
There are still ups and downs as there will always be, but knowing that life is headed in a good direction lets me enjoy the journey.
None of it would have been possible had I never acknowledged the responsibility was mine and taking these steps to get rid of my crutches.
Let go of the crutches in your life. Take responsibility. Make the changes necessary to make the most of your life.