This piece was originally published in the Washington Examiner on January 11, 2022.
Many young people spend January implementing their New Year’s resolutions. The age group of people who were most likely (40%) to say they planned to make any 2022 resolutions was 18- to 29-year-olds. Whether it is to eat healthier, travel more, take up a hobby, or search for love, the transition to a new year has become synonymous with self-improvement. The first Sunday in January has even been dubbed Dating Sunday because of the increase in online dating activity.
Here’s a New Year’s resolution for young conservative women: Lead now.
Young women don’t have to wait until they graduate college, get a job, or hit some other milestone to be leaders. They can and should be leaders now. A leader is someone others turn to for advice, direction, or inspiration regardless of age, responsibilities, or title.
Now is the time for young conservative women to develop their leadership skills by practicing them, learning how to overcome obstacles, win over people to their cause, and advance their ideas. They might lose arguments on campus or in their social circles, but they will learn from those losses to become more effective advocates for conservatism.
While liberal women grab magazine headlines and make the front pages, they aren’t the only trailblazers. Conservative women are leaders too, and young women can take inspiration from these highly successful, if not glamorized, role models. Justice Amy Coney Barrett is the youngest woman and first mother of school-age children to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Carly Fiorina was the first woman to lead a Fortune 20 company. Condoleezza Rice was the first woman named national security adviser. Jeane Kirkpatrick was the first woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. And Margaret Thatcher was the first female British prime minister.
To open doors in the future and get more conservative women in influential positions and positions that can’t be ignored, young conservative women should focus on developing their leadership skills now.
How can they do this?
Read a book on leadership or professional development. For example, in Everything Will Be Okay: Life Lessons for Young Women (from a Former Young Woman), Dana Perino teaches women how to navigate their early careers, from dressing professionally to taking risks to avoiding up-talking.
Decide to speak up once a week, even if it is uncomfortable. A way to become a better advocate for conservative views is to practice raising questions and making the conservative case whether in the classroom or among friends.
Cultivate a strong network of like-minded women. Being a conservative on campus or in some workplaces can be difficult, so turn to others who are going through the same experiences. Sign up for national organizations to be part of a larger community and get access to training.
Learn from the other side. Follow three people or news sources on social media that represent a liberal perspective or go to an event put on by a liberal group. Listen and understand their views. Then research and think about how to address their arguments.
Leadership isn’t defined by a title but rather by the impact someone has on others, their community, and the world. Now is the time to learn to lead, no matter how difficult it may be. As Thatcher said, “Never just follow the crowd. Make up your own mind what you want to do and, if necessary, get the crowd to follow you.”
Karin Lips (@klips) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. She is the founder and president of the Network of enlightened Women, as well as a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum.