Are you over 50?
Your next move is most likely a downsizing move. The kids are grown and out the door. The home maintenance is becoming a drag. You might be feeling the proverbial “midlife crisis” and yearn for something different, now that your life feels different. In other words, your interests are evolving or your needs have changed. Either way, a simpler setup in a smaller space appeals. It all makes sense. So when it’s time to start the downsizing process, does it unfold smoothly? Well…..not so much! Sit back, relax and hear about 4 limiting behaviors we’ve observed while helping Baby Boomers and Seniors prepare for their next move.
Downsizing Truth #1: Hardly anyone is ready to release their stuff!
Deep down, no one really wants too much stuff. We feel the weight of it when we open a full closet or cabinet. We see it when we are searching for something else in the house. And we talk about it when it gets in our way. But when we have available space, it’s easy to hang on to things for now or for “someday”. Many of us were raised to not be wasteful. Others are simply more relaxed with what comes into the home and never leaves. Yet there comes the day when it’s time to get serious. But we feel sad as we say goodbye to things we loved or needed at one point. And then we feel stuck.
Yet why is it so hard to declutter and get rid of what we no longer need or use? Downsizing is not a simple or easy process! Our things are more than just things since they represent where we’ve been, who we’ve loved and what we longed to be. Even though the memories will stay with us, folks still balk at releasing the symbols of their life story. So they hang on and, before you know it, there are a couple dozen (or more) boxes labeled “miscellaneous”. Where will you put those boxes in the new place?
Downsizing Truth #2: Family stuff is sticky with sentiment
It’s a relief to release the odds and ends we accumulate over a lifetime. Goodwill is a common recipient of those items. Outdated clothing, books, knickknacks…off they go! But when it comes time to consider Mom’s china, Grandma’s silver tea set or your high school yearbooks, it’s a whole different story. Those items are stored in a closet or a drawer, unused and out of sight. We don’t necessarily display all the inherited items. Of course, we cherish the folks who passed them down but the items are not always to our current taste or style.
Yet once they surface, it’s painful to part with them. It feels like we’re dishonoring memories of loved ones or our own personal history. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with keeping a few select items like a tea pot, a serving platter or a picture collage. Displaying or using treasured pieces makes our home uniquely our own. But when it’s going from the old closet to the new closet…when it’s not claimed by your own adult kids or used in your new home…does that continued storage make sense?
Downsizing Truth #3: We lose objectivity when pricing to sell
Remembering what we paid for certain items makes it difficult to digest what today’s buyer is willing to pay. How about the low starting bid for the doll collection you’ve lovingly curated all these years? Or consider the pennies on the dollar you make when selling your 1990’s designer duds. Certainly, there is money to be extracted out of specific categories such as MidCentury Modern furniture or rare coins. But the fact of the matter is, there are hundreds of thousands of 55+ aged sellers looking to offload similar housefuls of all manner of goods. It’s really a buyer’s market, for the most part. Again, you can make money but it will take time and effort to do so. It’s not as simple or easy as most think.
Downsizing Truth #4: It’s a bigger job than we anticipate
When things are hidden in drawers, closets and cabinets, it’s easy to underestimate just how much stuff we have! If you’re a highly organized person, even you can have far more personal belongings than you think, since you’ve got systems to maximize your space. Day One of decluttering is generally overwhelming for most as they work all day in one room and then you realize how many more rooms there are to go. Of course, we don’t accumulate all our belongings overnight so it follows that it won’t be an overnight process to sort through and make decluttering choices.
Folks can often be in denial about downsizing being in their future. But adopting a pragmatic stance that it’s inevitable can be quite helpful. With that in mind, start early. Declutter often. If you want to pass things down to your children, ask them now. Don’t assume they will or can take everything. And don’t be offended if they say no. After all, would you want them to take something unwillingly and then just stow it in a closet?
Our downsizing advice
Downsizing is not for the faint of heart, no doubt about it. We’re certainly not looking to be the voice of doom and gloom here! Instead, we’re advocating a practical stance on reducing your things to this: what is necessary, what is useful and what you truly love. In order to minimize the mindsets that can hold you back, we highly recommend that you begin now, even if you don’t have your next destination finalized. We all have many items in our homes that are obvious candidates for the trash, donation or a selling outlet, if you so desire. In fact, carving out a specific time slot each day or week to focus on decluttering will really put you in a good place. It’s surprising what 20-30 minutes a day will accomplish.
Does most of what you already own fall within these three categories? Bravo! Then whittle the number of items down to a realistic quantity that will actually fit in your new space. And be sure to allow for “breathing space”! In the end, the most important things are not “things”. They are “experiences”. And experiences take up hardly any space at all!
What downsizing lessons have you or a loved one learned?
Have you recently started or finished reducing your stuff? What was the biggest “a-ha” moment for you? What was the hardest stuff to deal with? And if you had to do it over, what would you do differently?
We’d love to hear from you! Please drop us a line below…and thank you for stopping by!