It’s hard to think about how to start the downsizing process. There’s so much wrapped up in our treasures: difficult emotions, unmet dreams, things we haven’t finished, bad decisions etc. Change is hard and a next life transition might not always be our choice. Despite all the emotions, it can be a freeing and rewarding experience to let go of those things that fill up our time and space.
Here are some things to think about when planning to downsize:
- Start as early as you can, as early as when downsizing is just an idea. You want to be involved in the process, and it’s easier to think clearly when you don’t have other pressures at the same time.
- Schedule an appointment with yourself once or twice a week, every week, the same time and day to go through your belongings. Do not expect to work 8 hours on this, it is exhausting work. Plan for smaller blocks of time on a regular frequency.
- Get help! Maybe a friend who is going through the same transition, you can be accountability partners to each other laugh and cry together. It’s good to involve your kids but be aware that doing this with your kids or your spouse (who might be in denial) can be really challenging. Sometimes it’s better to start yourself on the things that you have purview over.
- If your moving or selling your house, keep in mind that your house will sell for more money and faster to sell if it is clutter free.
Wondering where to start?
- Remove the trash, broken items, things you know you don’t want (we call it cherry picking the easy stuff).
- The garage is key because you will use it as a marshaling area for trash, recycling, donations, and giveaway.
- Local recycling events are good to use for deadlines. More difficult things to get rid of are chemicals, electronics, medications, shredding, use these events to your advantage.
- It’s good to stage those things that belong to others somewhere to make it easier to return. Near the door or in your car trunk. Call them, give them a deadline. You are not the world’s storage unit.
- Things your saving for the kids need to be resolved. It’s not your responsibility to be their storage unit. If they want it they will come and pick up what they want, fine, if they don’t want it, let it go.
- For some reason, books are always a sensitive area for those who love them. Separately, those who love books, almost always have a lot of them. Some questions to consider:
- Do I need to keep those books I’ve read, or will never read again?
- Do I use old cookbooks, or can I pass them down to someone else?
- Holiday items, how much do you need a tree? Is that something you can either stop putting up or perhaps pass down.
- Things that will not fit into your new life, will you be doing a ton of cooking or entertaining if not, move on your large pots and turkey roasters.
- If your spouse is reluctant, start on what you can do without their input (respectfully please) your clothes, your books and other things that you are responsible for.
In the end, you want to feel good about your decisions and be a part of the process so that you can rest easy into this next chapter.