By now you’ve heard all the reasons why you (or your parents), in preparation for the next chapter of life, should downsize your home. To make it easier to prepare for a move. To make your current home safer and more functional. To do it while you can still participate. To be kind to your kids. Sound reasons abound, but do they move you off the dime?
Some folks genuinely embrace the downsizing challenge. They breeze through the process of shedding their unwanted stuff by latching onto a vision of what the downsized life will look and feel like. They’re hopeful and excited because they imagine having more time, energy, space and much less stress. But how do they paint that mental picture of what that next chapter looks like? How do they get there?
I’m downsized, and I feel so free!
There are at least two predominant feelings you could focus on when parting with your stuff: loss or freedom. Most folks feel both, in sequence, as they sort through their lifetime of possessions. It’s ok, even healthy, to revisit the memories associated with Junior’s swim trophies, Dad’s fly rods and Grandma’s hand-crocheted linens before passing them on. Pause, reflect, even shed a tear. Then let go and try focusing on how it feels to carry a lighter load.
Not so surprisingly, those who choose to embrace downsizing acknowledge that is actually feels good. Some clients happily report a sense of discovery – of stuff they haven’t seen for a while – and that they were able to muscle through an emotionally difficult process. They feel accomplished when they see roomier closets, junk going out the door, the basement floor. And almost always when they’re finished, our clients admit they feel freer, lighter and relieved.
Recently a client told me she thought she’d cry the day we carried away 37 years of her household possessions. But as the items went on the truck she announced several times, with a huge smile on her face, how good it felt to let it all go. She chose to feel freedom over loss.
“I’m downsized. What’s new with you?”
“Downsized Donna” was moving to a smaller home. The move was the perfect catalyst for her to think about how to maximize the utility of her space, focus on what mattered to her, and ditch what was inconsequential to her life. As a result, Donna’s new home works for her and accommodates how she lives today. The space is planned and populated with furnishings integral to her daily lifestyle, with not a lot of extra stuff crowding in or requiring dusting.
In the planning stages, Donna considered her preferences for where she eats, sleeps, entertains, works, and pursues hobbies. We asked Donna questions such as “Where do you spend your time when you’re relaxing?” “Do you use a desk or do you gravitate toward the dining room table?” And “what are your hobbies?” Donna’s downsized home is intentionally planned to serve her current functional priorities and create a comfortable living space. She has more room to maneuver her walker because she jettisoned the 90” sofa she never sat on. She also ditched the large desk she never used, replacing it with a table that could accommodate bill paying and (happily!) her sewing machine that had been stuck in the basement.
The payoff? Donna now has a safer, more accommodating space to do what she likes, and she spends less time and energy taking care of superfluous stuff that was just in her way.
I’ve downsized. Are you next?
The first one done gets to relax. Doesn’t that sound inviting? Whether you’re planning a move or downsizing in place, don’t wait too long to get started. We’ve seen many situations where the client’s physical and emotional stamina were nearly spent before the process was competed.
Begin by considering what type of help you need. Assistance with a plan to help you get started? Physical labor to carry, unpack, haul and toss? Information to help you decide whether to sell or toss? Companionship while you sort through items that evoke strong memories? Someone there to hear your stories, keep you focused, get you lunch and encourage you along the way?
Then ask for help, because there’s no shame in making a smart choice. Self-preservation is essential if you want to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Do you want to be the one who has time for your favorite pursuits, and still enough zest to pursue them? Or will you end up as the stressed soul who waited too long to address the mess? Being short on time, stamina and resources compounds the stresses of downsizing. Senior Move Managers, Estate Liquidators and Personal Property Appraisers can provide valuable information, direction, project management and hands-on assistance to make the process much, much easier.
Picture yourself as a downsizing graduate, living the downsized life. Then start working toward your diploma. No cap or gown required though – that just more clutter!
By Bridget Donnelly, Owner
Donnelly’s Estate Liquidation & Appraisal Services, LLC
Bridget Donnelly is the founder of Donnelly’s Estate Liquidation & Appraisal Services, a Centre County, PA-based business that has helped hundreds of people cope with the stresses of downsizing, moving and shedding unwanted possessions. Bridget is certified as a Senior Move Manager, Estate Liquidator and Personal Property Appraiser. She’s happy to listen to your downsizing challenges: email her at delas115@ImSoOverwhelmed.com.