Downsizing Your Home After 60: Don’t Let Change Keep You from Living the Life You Want
Everyone resists change… Change is very hard… Real change takes a long time…
We hear things like these all the time. Are they true? Well, maybe and maybe not. Like lots of things, “It depends.”
Change Is Everywhere
There are some big changes we make on a dime, like setting the clocks forward and back twice a year. Except for a couple of states, the entire United States changes “what time is it?” overnight.
On the surface we feel sleepy an inadequate for a couple of days, but this is a huge change on lots and lots of levels. And still it happens in an instant.
It’s the same when we suddenly become a student and have to go to school every weekday for many months a year for the next however many years.
In similar manner, one minute we’re single, and the next minute we’re married. One minute we aren’t parents and within several minutes we are. And according to my mother, we’re a parent for the rest of our lives, even when our “children” get to be 40 years old!
In our lifetimes we’ve changed our mindset from not even knowing what a car seat belt was, to automatically putting one on, even if it’s just to drive to a different spot in the parking garage! And on and on.
In many cases the change itself is not so hard as the time we spare to sit down and contemplate it. There have been countless times when a major decision was looming, and I agonized over it for days or sometimes months. And then, I made the decision – snap! – and did what needed to be done after that.
Has that been true for you?
Taking Small Steps Helps
Downsizing your home can be a bit like this, I think, if we keep some things in mind.
Last year I went through a major downsizing of my home and moved into a very small apartment. Was that an easy change to make? No, and I’ve written about the emotional side of it in my book The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough.
However, the more I remembered to take things one small step at a time, the easier the process seemed to be. For example, one of the hardest things for me was getting rid of lots and lots of my books. I consider books precious, but I could take with me only a very small percentage of the ones I owned.
Understandably, when I thought, “I need to get rid of lots of books,” I was absolutely frozen. Changing my mindset to “Today I will focus on that bookcase,” made things infinitely easier. It was not necessarily fun and delightful, but it was certainly easier.
And I think this is true for lots of changes we’re asked to make in our lives. If we remember to break it down and take it one small step at a time, it will be easier. And eventually we’ll be done.
In terms of downsizing, “being done eventually” means that we need to start sooner rather than later. So, if you know that at some point you’re going to be downsizing your home, start NOW!
Don’t Accumulate New Stuff
Start by not bringing in lots of new things but start going through one closet and one drawer at a time. Take everything out and put back only those few things you really want or need to keep.
If you don’t know the size of the place you’ll be moving into, pretend it will be a quarter of the size of your current space.
I went from three very large clothes closets to a single small one. That meant getting rid of lots and lots of things. Keep a big plastic bag in the corner of one room and use it to discard all those things that are overdue to go out.
There is a big rule you will need to make yourself keep: Never look in that bag again and never take anything out unless it truly went in by mistake.
If you intend to donate the things to a charity and want to take a tax deduction, keep a pad and pen beside the bag so you can list the things as they go in.
Know Where Your Things Are Going
It was less painful for me to get rid of things, even my books, if I knew where they were going. For example, my books went to the local library for their semi-annual used-book sale, which pays for a very large percentage of their operating expenses.
Let’s summarize the steps you can take for making the change of downsizing easier:
Take small steps to make the process much less overwhelming. Don’t bring new things into your house so you won’t have additional clutter to feel attached to. Plan for where the things you’re discarding will go. Knowing that someone else (person or organization) will benefit from your things makes getting rid of them much less painful.
Once you decide to get rid of something, don’t change your mind – it’s not worth it to go through that painful decision twice.
It’s time to start downsizing! Good luck!
What are some things you’re planning to get rid of? Are you emotionally attached to them? How do you plan to approach the process so it doesn’t cause you too much pain? Please share your thoughts with our community and let’s make the downsizing experience easier for everyone.