Keita Williams, chief strategist of accountability practice Success Bully, turned 40 on Aug. 20 – and it was a day she admits she was dreading. Here, Williams shares why she is struggling with hitting this new decade, and what she’s doing to fight her feelings of worry, regret, and pressure.
Since I hit my mid-30s, I had a preconceived notion of what my life would look like at this age . I thought I would have checked all the boxes: great education, amazing career, wonderful husband, two-and-a-half kids, and a house in the suburbs, complete with a white picket fence. But as of today, I only have two of those things: a world-class education and a wonderful career.
I’ve realized that the more I chase after checking those different boxes, the more frustrated and unfulfilled I become. Not to scapegoat society, but I felt I was pre-programmed that marriage and children were a measure of success. And because of that, I feel like I misused my biggest resource, which is time.
I spent way too much time with the wrong person, too much time crying over boys, too much time complaining about dating, too much time on dating apps – and far too much time listening to my girlfriends do the same. I would love to have that time and energy back! If I had a time machine, I would tell my younger self to spend more time on developing my skills and passions than looking for love. When the time is right, love will find you. I would also tell my younger self to jump and figure out how to fly. Your wings are strong enough.
I recently had a spirited conversation with one of my close friends. We talked extensively about enjoying our freedom and embracing the opportunities to pick and choose our next moves based solely on desire. It was one of those light bulb moments that immediately touched my personal and professional life. I can live the life I want. No excuses. No exceptions. And I decided that I am celebrating the entire year of 40 by shifting away from the things I have to do and focusing instead on things I want to do.
I have been planning wonderful dates on Saturday. Saturday nights are for music. My friends and I put on fancy outfits and just go! I was recently seen wearing a full satin romper at a jazz show.
I’ll be honest: I have fully embraced romper life, because sometimes I don’t want to pull together an entire outfit. I also have solo dates. One of my favorite solo dates has been picking a book that has been collecting dust on my nightstand, finding a rooftop deck, and reading uninterrupted—usually with a glass of bubbles. And because I want to spend time with my retired mom, we are doing a girl’s trip.
Rather than focus on my lack of a partner and a couple little chubby-cheeked children that look like me, I am enjoying my freedom. There is an incredible amount of freedom in being 40 and childless and husbandless: I can go wherever I want, however I want, and whenever I want.
So, I am spending a month traveling and working remotely. I’ve been working in Savannah, Georgia; New York City; and Belize. Depending on my schedule, I hope to spend part of November in Spain. I am also deciding whether I am going to be bicoastal or go international. I’m very lucky, because I have the means and the skillset to support my sense of adventure.
Focusing on freedom is liberating. I spent way too much time when I was younger concerning myself with what others thought of me. I would personalize things and over-process it. Maybe even cry about it. I know now that, most of the time, unconstructive comments have more to do with the other person’s self-worth than my own. Unless I ask for your feedback, I could care less about your Keita-related input.
As for my health, I have occasional aches and pains. I know that I need to take my health more seriously now. I am unwilling to gamble with something so precious. I am making intentional investments to have a stronger new decade—a new dietitian, new trainer, new level of commitment, and consistent check-ups.
I’m also focused on my legacy: How can I make a personal, positive impact on more women? I have been building Success Bully to help people set and achieve goals. I get an adrenaline rush from getting my clients to the next level. I am a firm believer that anything is possible if you break it down into snackable steps. I am excited to build it, so I can encourage and impact more people.
It is important to help other women because we can create a ripple effect. Supporting each other by the simple acts of showing up, advocating, referring, or lending a listening ear are impactful.
A piece of wisdom that was shared with me can help another woman, which can help another woman and another woman and another woman—which only compounds over time.