The start of the year is a popular time to reflect. So, I’m inclined to be a little philosophical as we greet 2021 while pulling ourselves out of the abyss of the past year and catching our collective breath.

I know there’s nothing magical about December 31. It’s simply a page that’s turning in the calendar. And yet, this year it felt like a significant, symbolic page.

We’re so ready to start over! And we’re armed with everything 2020 taught us, much of it far more than what we bargained for. As I glance back, then peek down a future path, I’m pondering this.

Will Older Women Lead the Way in 2021?

I’ve had countless inspiring conversations with women 60+ this year, my peers and my teachers. In general, not much threw them off their game for long. They suffered loss and navigated change. They innovated and figured out how to live well while riding the waves of 2020.

In reality, they do some of this every year.

Most women I encountered in 2020 shine with quiet grace and enviable resilience. I’ve marveled at what they’ve shared with me. 

And spoiler alert: they don’t have secret powers or use hidden magic. They simply draw from what they know, from who they’ve become. That’s why I think that the coming year and the years coming after can belong to older women.

We Were Made for These Times

At first, I couldn’t put my finger on why that rings true. So I pulled at three common threads older women share and found some clarity.

We’ve Weathered Many Storms

I can only speak about my upbringing in the US, but so much about how we’re raised leaves its mark, wherever we grow up.

Our grandparents and parents fought world wars, the first during the deadliest pandemic in modern times. Our elders endured the Great Depression. We come from strong stock.

And then came the era in which we came of age. The 60s and 70s were decades of great unrest, where seeds of change took root and were enveloped in layers of loss. Assassinations of beloved leaders. An unjust war. As Camelot ended and Watergate unfolded, our loss of innocence was guaranteed.

Along the way we forged our individual paths… sometimes in sorrow while carrying heavy burdens, oftentimes in joy and shouldering a lighter load. It’s easy to believe we’ve been preparing for these latest shifts our whole lives.

Older Women Aren’t Shy About Needing One Another

This year we realized that we needn’t be alone even if we lead a solitary life.

As 2020 dragged on, we muddled through staying in touch virtually. We gratefully overcame isolation and vowed to treasure our relationships all the more in the future.

Getting older brings a yearning to connect and to share, and there’s an alchemy in true sisterhood. The spirit of connection can sustain older women, and we, in turn, can exemplify the importance of staying truly connected.

We Have What It Takes

Older women have been nurturing the qualities and life skills necessary for coping with change for a while now. We draw from a menu of “lessons learned” and pull from a toolbox stocked with ways to thrive.

I’ve witnessed that we…

  • Believe in something greater than ourselves, and
  • Surrender to what cannot be changed. 
  • Savor even the smallest goodness, and
  • Prioritize what matters most.
  • Recognize our limits, and
  • Set healthy boundaries.
  • Release judgment, and
  • Soften how we treat ourselves and others.
  • Reset when we’re thrown off balance, and
  • Heal old wounds.
  • Dig as deep as necessary,
  • Stretch farther than we thought possible, and
  • Trust we won’t break.

Is all of this a formula for leadership? If not, it comes close.

Older women are the heartbeat of these changing times. We whisper, “Steady on!” as we resolutely step forward into a new year.

And we metaphorically join hands, creating a chain of comfort and courage amidst all that lies ahead, all we’ve yet to do.

I think we’re up to the task.

What lifelong lessons kept you moving on in 2020? What new did you learn about yourself last year that made you more resilient? Do you feel ready to tackle any challenge that comes your way? Please share your strengths and any new hopes for 2021!

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