Looking Back on Half a Century

Published: August 25, 2020

For this week’s blog, I wanted to feature a member of our Metrix Family, the one and only: Eric Heinen. Eric recently celebrated the big 5-0 and shared a Facebook post with a pretty incredible list of lessons he has learned over his 50 years on Earth. We wanted to share these with you today – check out the list below:

Fifty.

A half century is a little mind-blowing, considering the wild combat I put my body through in my twenties, thirties and most of my forties. I woke up this morning thinking about lessons learned and perspectives shaped – thought I would share if you guys are interested.

1. If you’re lucky, and you have really neat parents, they will be the difference-maker in how you look at and interact with the world. The older I get, the smarter they are.

2. Call your parents often, even for five minutes to check in. One day, you won’t be able to do it, and I think that’ll be a tough pill to swallow. I have both of mine, and I know that makes me extra lucky.

3. A good partner will enrich you. A great partner will make you grow. An unbelievable partner will help you unlock yourself and hopefully them as well – like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that mesh perfectly. I cribbed that saying from my gorgeous wife, and it’s succinct and true.

4. Speaking of my wife, I can unreservedly say it’s been the biggest game-changer of my life. She’s everything, and makes all things better. There’s no sense in wishing for three wheels on the spinner at the casino, when I can honestly say I hit the jackpot already. I’m not greedy. A partner that pushes you, grows with you, loves you, is independent and a seeker – it’s absolutely priceless. Be choosy, and when you get the right one, throw everything you have in to the relationship. They deserve it.

5. Maintaining and building your physical power is key. Your health is absolutely everything, without it your success, possessions, relationships – they all fade out if you’re incapacitated or get sick. The life you live is predicated on your ability to move, think and act quickly and with surety – you can’t do that if you’re carrying a bunch of extra weight, being honest. Your self-esteem, your mental outlook and your attitude are all directly impacted by how you feel about your choices, your discipline, your appearance. If you’re not happy, change it immediately. When you check in to a hospital, all you have going for you is what you walked in the door with. You’ll always wish for more, so build it up while you can. Sweat every day, I promise you’ll feel GREAT!

6. Learn how to cook. Eating out is overrated. Magic happens in the kitchen.

7. Friends over time are more valuable than gold. Anybody that’s still in my world after ten, twenty, thirty years – make sure you water that plant. Be a good listener, talk less. Long-term relationships are earned.

8. Keep a clean, orderly house. Make your bed. Put things away after you use them. Great lessons for a twelve-year old, invaluable guidance for being an adult – this one is timeless.

9. It costs you nothing to have a kick-ass attitude about your life. If you’re not excited about it, nobody else will be. Be an active participant in your own world. Engage often, stay curious and keep your eyes open – get out of your phone or device. The most boring people in the world have their heads stuck in a screen, even walking down the street. Be different!

10. Start conversations, and be genuinely interested. You will be floored by what you learn about others. The difference maker in my life has been to be fearless about speaking in crowded rooms, addressing large groups and being the first person to greet others. You will attract people just by being gregarious. This doesn’t mean to be a babbling goofball – but take the initiative.

11. Humor is priceless. You can win friends and lovers, neutralize enemies and be remembered if you’re funny. Everybody likes to laugh, especially if you surprise it out of them.

12. Work hard, build your own thing. I like to call it ‘being totally unemployable,’ because I don’t want to work for anybody else to construct their dream. Do crazy things, things that make other people shake their head at you – not everybody gets to be an astronaut, and that’s OK.

13. Get up early, like sunrise or before sunrise early. It’s OK to goof off, daydream, meditate, relax, drink that second cup of coffee …. all on your own time. Start your day right and way ahead of everybody else. Your edge will carry you through the day. Go to bed early. You’re not missing anything after 10pm.

14. I love movies, I don’t watch television. It’s almost all pre-digested, lazy content and advertisements. I can’t care about reality television – I’m too busy living a real life – mine!

15. Read books daily, even just a few pages. Reading is a transporter, a creator, an engine for thinking and dreaming. It’s also a muscle – use it or lose it.

16. Travel often, everywhere. My parents took me all over the world. Strike up conversations in foreign languages you barely speak, use your hands and act out sentences. You will have the best and most unforgettable times doing this. Involve your kids, make sure they order food and run to the local supermarket for supplies.

17. Kids are the most prepared for life when they are curious, resilient and confident. Less entertainment, more skill-building, physicality and problem-solving. It’s harder and harder to raise independent thinkers that want to play outside all day, explore and push boundaries – help them! The saddest thing I can think of is a family at the dinner table with kids glued to a device.

18. Learn a foreign language. It’s like money in the bank.

19. Serving in the military was an education and an honor. Serving your country will enrich you more than you expect, and forget the politics. If you’re a citizen of the land, devote a few of your young years to standards, sacrifice and a mission greater than yourself. You’ll be happy you did it later. That window is only open for a few years, so jump in while you can!

20. Enjoy music and the arts. Be creative. Be enthusiastic in embracing all the arts – it will open your mind and keep you flexible as you get older. Listen to lots of different styles, play an instrument.

21. Things are totally unimportant. If you don’t believe me, get divorced and reduce your possessions down to zero. You will see what really matters if you had to pack it all in to a suitcase. It’s an eye-opener.

22. Drink less, enjoy more. Cutting out casual boozing has been a game-changer, physically, mentally, spiritually. Instead of three bottles of red wine, enjoy a glass of a REALLY good one. Instead of a six-pack of beer, try two fingers of aged scotch and a big glass of water. Germans have a saying, “Klein aber Fein” which loosely translated means: ‘small, but exquisite.’ I find I’m enjoying special treats with special friends vs a bunch of whatever with whoever. As I get older I have even less time that can be spent feeling terrible after a long night. This lesson is one of the biggies of the last twenty years.

23. Work on being just a little bit better than you were yesterday, seriously. Just a little. Think more, don’t be in such a hurry to open your yap until you thought about it just a few more seconds. Less reaction, more thinking. Emotional, knee-jerk behavior is a trait you can slowly unlearn over time, I think. Haven’t mastered it yet, but I’m aware and that’s a start.

24. You will have regrets, I have them to be sure. Not a lot, but a few and they sting. Don’t bury them, as they will eat at you slowly but surely. Look at them, learn from them and then take action in whatever way is relevant. There are patterns in everybody’s life, the tricky part is getting out of the loop and moving in a different direction to break the cycle if you’re stuck.

25. Above all, develop a sense of gratitude. I am grateful every day for my health, my life, my wife, my kids, my journey and my work. Today, in this moment, everybody I care about is alive and healthy. My parents are both healthy and alive. My kids are vibrant and growing. My wife is alive, loving and full of vitality. I have my health, my mind and my physicality. Tomorrow is truly not promised, and I’m aware that I’m living my best possible life today. It will not always be this way.

Thank you, Eric, for sharing these words with us!

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