sixtyandme logo
We are community supported and may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Why It’s Important That We Set the Example

By Julia Hubbel January 22, 2023 Lifestyle

“I’m showing this to my daughters!” A commenter left this message on a story that I had written about setting a goal for myself to successfully complete 120 pushups – the standard full-plank type – on my 68th birthday.

I did it. That was a year ago. I wrote a story about it, posted it, and didn’t expect much.

In fact, I got a lot of feedback, of which this young father’s was the most moving.

My article is NOT about teaching yourself to do pushups. I blog on fitness after 50, and since I do adventure travel, upper body strength isn’t an option. It has at times saved my life.

Being a military veteran and farm girl, I am no stranger to physical labor. That’s not true of everyone, nor do I believe that goals that work for me are going to work for you or anyone else.

Setting the Example

What I will say is that you and I, as elder women, silver sisters, set the example. The example we set teaches our kids and our kids’ kids how to live late in life. To my mind, it’s an enormous and unbelievable responsibility which offers all kinds of opportunities for us to grow into the wise women we were always meant to be.

But it takes work.

If you can eschew, as do I, the ridiculous notion that we have to look incredibly young or be model thin or any of the other largely unreachable standards that are unfair to all of us at any age, you will open the door to the grace, gravitas, humor, and happiness by which we can live well.

That doesn’t take being Jane Goodall or Maya Angelou. It simply means that you and I carve out a unique way of being that works for us, for which we are unapologetic. I assume that nobody gets hurt by that lifestyle. However, the overarching point is to live life with gusto, whatever that means for you.

To wit:

One dear friend of mine, a Berkeley PhD, learned to ride Harleys in her late 50s. My kinda woman.

Another friend who is also on this platform is a rescue diver and pilot, both of which she earned at 68. My kinda woman.

Your kinda woman might have taken up painting. Or dance. Perhaps she rescues animals or massages horses. Or she works tirelessly to get out the vote. It makes no difference how we choose to express ourselves. It’s how inspired our lives are for ourselves and others. That’s the gift.

Are You a Torch-Bearer?

Until a few years ago, I had a mentor who was a lifelong athlete and serial entrepreneur. She died at 91, and up until the day she passed she worked out with a trainer several times a week, running (slowly) around a lake near her home in Boulder.

She was my example. I was honored to know her, and she knew – because I told her – that she had been my inspiration to start adventure travel at 60.

Meg died six years ago, and she handed me the torch. You and I hold that torch, especially once we pass 60. Even if it wobbles, even if we drop it once in a while, you and I are blazing a path to show younger generations how aging can be done well.

You certainly don’t have to. There is no pressure on you whatsoever to do anything.

However, and I can only speak for myself, the older women who inspired me fully expected me to pay it forward. Their investment in me is paying off not only in my life, but through the responsibility I feel to live as fully as I can until the day I am toes up.

Meg was the example for me that my mother wasn’t. I am today the woman my mother badly wanted to be but couldn’t. This is not a condemnation of her choices. It is more so to point out that we older women can end up being “mothers” to all kinds of people, and in doing so, influence and shape lives of great promise.

But first, our lives have to be full of that promise and action. It does NOT have to be some great world-wide achievement. Some of the most influential women in my world simply did incredible internal work, and their wisdom has been crucial in helping me grow as a person.

The journey doesn’t matter; what matters is whether you and I are doing something that a young parent wants his daughters to know about, for that will help shape their hopes for the future.

We Always Need Inspiration

You and I never stop needing inspiration. Whether it’s from someone like Margaret who, late in life, formed an online platform that now serves some half a million women over 60 worldwide, or a woman who, after her divorce, decides to walk across England or learn a new language so she can teach in Brazil.

Doesn’t matter. What matters is knowing that you and I are being watched. How well we live, how well we handle life’s tough spots, how well we manage our health and happiness, our relationships and ways of being can be seen as the guideposts for those coming behind us.

If you and I surround ourselves, even at this age, with people who inspire us, then we are more likely to become someone living an inspired life. Nobody says you have to. But I can most certainly tell you that you can and will change lives in ways you can’t possibly yet imagine.

For me, as I age towards 70, that is a bright horizon, an exciting future, and a lot to be grateful about.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you have someone who inspired you? How has your life been different as the result of an inspiring story or mentor? How did someone impact your young life in ways you now want to pay back?

Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Marie S

I live a kind, honest and peaceful life. At 68 I DO want to be a role model for my nieces and any other young women around me. I do Pilates once a week and OrangeTheory twice a week. I take care of myself physically, mentally and spiritally; I take no medications for any anything.
I wish I had had a good strong positive role model when I was younger, maybe the learning curve would not have been so hard.

Teresita Abad

Hi Julia! This is an inspiring reminder for me to continue doing what I am doing now. For whatever reason, it is always worth the try and the effort to put on whatever we want to achieve. Thank you.

Julia Hubbel

Thanks so much Teresita.


Why is it that as we age, we are now encouraged to achieve something or inspire others in some notable way? I recognize that you state we can do as we please, but the underlying message is that our life purpose is otherwise. We must serve in recognizable ways. My great-grandmothers inspired me through stories of their lives which weren’t remarkable by today’s standards, but only by how they quietly lived their lives, making it through every situation that came their way. And by the values they passed on. Can we not just inspire others by being kind, being honest, being decent to one another. Helping to lift one another up. If some wish to achieve more, that’s fine, but at this point in our lives, who needs or wants this pressure to constantly achieve something worthwhile.

Julia Hubbel

Lori, the article states over and over and over again that it’s up to you and that there is absolutely no push to HAVE to be anything. I find it unfortunate that you didn’t see how many times I repeated that very thing, allowing a great deal of grace to choose to be whomever we choose to be. If you hear a push, it’s not coming from this author. That’s an internal voice.

The Author

Julia Hubbel is a prize-winning author, journalist, international business and women’s conference speaker and international adventure traveler. Her work teaches people how to erase the impossible and redefine their boundaries. As a sales and leadership trainer, her work focuses on success skills and finding the courage to be your best. Visit her website here

You Might Also Like