The Upside to Downsizing Sooner Than Later
Maybe you’ve thought about cleaning out the hall closet, purging the garage so you can park a car in there, or moving to a smaller home. But the thought of sorting through everything you own is too overwhelming, so you put it off until the next weekend or the next year.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my own experience — downsizing from 2,400 square feet to 700 square feet — it’s that downsizing is a process and one that doesn’t happen overnight.
However, the sooner you start purging, the better. And here’s why:
1) You have the energy now
A few years ago, a friend told me about a woman in her eighties who had lived in a large house for decades. She was looking for someone to help her sort through her stuff so she could downsize to a smaller house. I hoped she found someone. For me it was a wakeup call. Because literally, I didn’t want to wake up in 25 years and realize I needed to purge all the extra stuff in my life. Better to do it now while I have the energy and the motivation.
2) You won’t leave a burden for your family
Some folks I’ve talked to about purging and downsizing say, “That’ll be my children’s problem.” But do you really want to burden your children that way? Going through your household, having an estate sale and managing your financial affairs could take months of time away from your child’s job and family. And it’s especially burdensome if your children live far from you.
Why not downsize now and experience the joy on your children's faces when you give them a few of your treasured heirlooms. Or ask your children now if they even want these items. This way you'll know the things you value most will be going to someone who appreciates them. Perhaps there are letters, diaries and personal items you just as soon your children didn't see. Sorting and purging through your personal affects now can help you sleep better knowing you won't be leaving this time-consuming task to your heirs.
3) You’ll be more organized
No matter what size house you have, an overflow of clutter and lack of storage can leave you tripping over things left and right. Is your garage and attic bursting at the seams with sports equipment, baby clothes and items you haven’t laid eyes on or used in 10 years? By purging and ridding yourself of items you no longer need, you'll be more organized and efficient in your daily life. And a more organized and less cluttered house can lower stress levels and help you think more clearly.
4) You’ll make room for what is important to you now
Downsizing can help you create space for what’s truly important in your life right now. So many of us — me included — hang on to remnants of the life we were living 20 or 30 years ago. I don’t know about you, but I’m a different person today, with different interests, wants and needs. I didn’t need to hang on to all those furniture projects I was never going to get around to doing. Nor all the paint supplies for art projects I no longer enjoy. Or the boxes and boxes of videos I produced when I had a production company. Those were things from a past life and it was time to let them go. It doesn’t mean you can’t hang on to things for sentimental reasons. That’s a personal decision. But by giving away the things that no longer serve you, you’ll be creating space for what does.
Clearing off your dining table may enable you to have friend and family over for dinner more often. Once the extra bedroom is no longer a storage closet, you can have an Airbnb accommodation or a craft room. Maybe the garage could be a rec room for the grandkids, an ADU for mom and dad or the she-shed or man cave you’ve always desired.
5) You’ll build momentum for the next downsizing project
Downsizing is like exercising a muscle. Hard at first, but once you clean out one closet and see how good it feels to be more organized, you’ll want to tackle another, have a yard sale and take one more carload to Good Will. Like I’ve said, downsizing and streamlining your life is a continual process. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
While you don’t have to do it all at once, the sooner you start, the sooner you will reap the rewards of a more simplified, organized life with more time for what really matter to you.