Youth, it is said, is wasted on the young.
While there are notable exceptions to that saying, it certainly applied to my earlier years. Throughout my young adult life, I wasted so much energy chasing unrealistic goals on crazy, self-imposed deadlines.
I was an ambitious TV journalist and the mom of two young girls. When I was at home, I obsessed over work. I wrongly believed I only had a decade to accomplish my professional dreams, because my career would surely be over at 40. And when I was at work, I was aching about the time I spent separated from my family. I always felt pulled at, guilty, and short on time.
But what I’ve learned, and what the women on Forbes and Know Your Value’s third annual 50 Over 50 U.S. list have proven—yet again—is we are just getting started. There is no need to rush. Time is actually our friend.
The women on this year’s list are living examples of how strong, empathetic, talented women can shatter stereotypes that have held too many back for far too long.
From actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who has had an incredible resurgence after age 60 (by the way, she told us she thought she’d be retired by age 40! Thank God, she didn’t), to the extraordinary singer Patti LaBelle, who is crushing it as a businesswoman in the food space at age 79, to Suze Orman, who remains one of the country’s top financial advisors at age 72. These women have demonstrated that we have more than enough time to have a career—or two, or three!
Their lives also prove that women can start a family—if they choose—when and how they want.
I’ve learned so much over the last three years working on this list, and those lessons really came to life at our 30/50 Summit in Abu Dhabi, which brought together women of all generations at every stage of their careers. We networked and built relationships and connections that are changing the world.
We in this community know the value of lifting each other up. It’s no longer about offering up bland pronouncements on “mentorship” or meaningless “words of support.” It is instead about creating partnerships with action, as investors like 50 Over 50: Investment listers Aileen Lee and Maha Ibrahim did when they helped build All Raise, a nonprofit that is working to increase the number of female investors. It’s about building a company that can help us find fair-paying jobs, as 50 Over 50: Impact lister is doing through reacHIRE, the company she founded. It’s about following in the examples of the luminaries on this list—and, crucially, about supporting each other as we reach our goals together.
The 50 Over 50 and its members are living proof that your career runway is longer than you imagine. Happiness can be a priority and mistakes can be a stepping stone.
Your journey will be filled with many twists, turns, joyful moments, disappointments, and wonderful surprises. And at all those different points, you will learn something new. And when you get to a different place down the road from what you once expected, there will still be a path forward for you – a long and winding road.
I wish my younger self could see where I am now (along with the incredible women we’ve featured on our 50 Over 50 lists). I wish I had known then where my life was headed. I wish I knew then what I know now. I would have been so much happier, so much more confident, and so much more relaxed.
But I don’t look back in sorrow; Instead, I celebrate the many lessons learned from the bumpy journey. I am 56, and I celebrate my age. I believe even better days lie ahead, and I hope you do too!