by choice or necessity, is a common occurrence for people in mid-life and
beyond. Many people feel the urge to live more simply and care for less. Others
no longer need the big houses where they once raised families.
For some downsizing
becomes necessary because of a move to a different and perhaps warmer climate
or is brought by the desire to live nearer to children and grandchildren.
Some people want to
wander the globe and can do so more easily without the burden of stuff left
behind. Others can no longer afford the lifestyle they once had now that they
are living on a fixed income.
reasons for downsizing, if you have been through the experience, you have come
out on the other side changed. Downsizing can be difficult, but also
What happens after
you downsize? What are the benefits of downsizing? How can the disciplined
pursuit of less change you?
You Will Live According to Your Values
The first step in
downsizing is making a decision of where you will go. This requires you to
think about what you want, what you can afford, and what would be meaningful to
How do you want to
live now? It is an important question, and if you clarify your values as you
make decisions, you will be aligning your life with your values. Living
according to your values is a positive thing.
When you downsize,
you are also forced to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. It isn’t
always an easy decision, but if you learn to choose things according to your
values, you will keep what is important to you. The result is that you live with
things that make you happy.
You Have Less Stress
possessions often result in clutter, and clutter often results in stress. Our
things can be a reminder of debt, bad choices, or unfulfilled projects. They
can be reminders of obligations – like the
need to hang onto Aunt Mary’s China set even though you don’t like it and have
never used it.
We tend to hang
onto things that remind us of happy events and people we love, but we also hang
onto things that are a burden emotionally, such as the photos from a wedding
that ended in divorce, or drawers full of items gifted to us by long-dead
Letting go of the
things that burden us can be emotionally freeing. Looking at unfulfilled
projects nags at us, which is stressful. Letting go of the to-do list of things
that you no longer want to do eliminates stress.
You Have Less to Take Care of
If you love dusting,
polishing, and cleaning, this won’t apply to you, but the fewer things you
have, the less you have to store, clean, organize, and take care of. Instead of
spending time managing and cleaning your belongings, you can do other things that
You may also find
that you don’t miss the excess. Many people say that it is easier to get
dressed when they have closets that are well edited. We tend to regularly wear
only a small portion of the clothes we own.
have become popular because a closet with fewer clothes means that your choices
are more likely to be well-fitting and in good repair. It is entirely possible
to be exceptionally well dressed with good, classic, basic items and colorful
accessories to add interest and variation.
Others notice that
they enjoy their possessions more when there are fewer but more meaningful
objects in their surroundings.
A handful of picture
frames on a shelf attracts our attention to the pictures inside. On the other
hand, 40 pictures on the shelf makes us notice the excess rather than the
You Feel Good Knowing You Have Helped Others
your possessions went somewhere. Think of the excess clothing you gave to the
thrift shop. Now it’s being worn by someone else who needs it more than you
Think of the
household goods that are now in a young couple’s first home, or a college
student’s apartment. Maybe Grandma’s needlework now hangs on the wall in your
daughter’s home or Grandpa’s desk is now in your grandson’s office.
If you were ever
the grateful recipient of secondhand goods, then you know the value they can
have. Every day, people buy things in thrift stores, antique stores, and resale
shops that add value to their lives and their homes.
Unless you tossed
everything in a dumpster, chances are someone else is now enjoying things you
You Save Money
A smaller home is
usually cheaper. If you own a home, you may be able to use the equity to buy a
smaller one outright. Unless you move to an area with a higher cost of living,
you will likely save money in taxes, which can be a substantial savings.
If you rent, moving
to a smaller house or apartment will likely result in lower rent costs. In
either case, you will save money in utilities and maintenance costs. Fewer
expenses means more money for things like health care, leisure, or traveling.
You Have a Chance to Start Over
As you built your
family and career, you often made choices because you needed to. Perhaps you
moved to a particular area for a job and ended up living there for years.
You may have needed
a bigger space for your children, and their space requirements – and even the school district you lived in – dictated your choices. You may have added on a mother-in-law
suite so that you could care for a family member.
It is likely that,
for many years, the needs of others came first. At this stage of life, it is
more likely that you make your decisions based on your needs. You make choices in downsizing that allow you a fresh
That fresh start in
your physical space also opens you up for a fresh start in other areas of your
life. You may have the time and opportunity to explore a new area or meet new
people. As a result, you might take up a new hobby or join a new book club.
There is no doubt
that downsizing can be emotionally charged. However, if you think of it as an
opportunity to create your life in a way that serves you now, you will likely
be happy in your new surroundings.
How has downsizing changed you? What do you
do to continue living in a way that combats clutter? What benefits of
downsizing do you see in your life? I’d love to hear your experiences in the
comments section below.