My father said that you can’t invest in retrospect. When you turn 50, you have to. It’s a time to look back, take stock of where you are and how you got there, and decide where you are going.

As I look around my home office, I see my life’s highlight reel. My Eagle Scout certificate, my bachelor’s degree from Cal State Northridge, my baseball cap from the year I was a Little League president, and enough Toastmasters speech contest trophies to fill up two whole shelves. But what do they all mean? What are they besides things that have to be dusted?

I have found that the primary value of achievement is that it gives you the ability to do more. My Eagle Scout helped me land my first few jobs, and my BA in English helped me start a career. My Toastmasters experience gave me the opportunity to speak at trade conferences and at Little League opening day. More importantly, achievement has given me the habit of pushing myself, a desire to excel, and an unwillingness to give up.

Achievement can be a curse, too. Pushing yourself can lead to setbacks and disappointments. There was the speech contest I lost because of an incorrect announcement and the times I had to quit. However, achievement has given me the will to keep going even after the greatest heartbreak.

As I turn 50, I’m mindful of my parents’ health problems when they were my age. My mother spent her fifties paralyzed by a stroke until she died at age 62. My father didn’t live through his fifties; he died for a diabetes and stress-related heart attack at age 55. I know I have to take better care of myself, especially because there is so much that I want to do in life.

I look forward to seeing my children finish school and start their careers. I look forward to their weddings and seeing my grandchildren. I look forward my wife and I celebrating more wedding anniversaries and enjoying our lives together. I want to self-publish my next book with the goal of having an actual publisher pick it up. There is room on my walls and shelves for more achievements and more moments of happiness.

Retrospect has value when you can use it get your bearings and set your direction. So, I look back at my past 50 years with excitement for the years to come.