Why do we spend our lives adding tangible personal property to the already large mountain of "stuff" and complexities in our lives, when ultimately we will reach a tipping point when we end up having to toss, discard, donate and downsize our objects and our lives in the end?

A similar example of ramping up then cutting back is when as a youngster, you spent your entire childhhood trying to push back the time of your "bedtime" to later and later in the evening; as a young adult, you could choose to, and often did,  stay up until the wee hours of the morning with little regard as to just how tired you might be the next day at work; and when you reach the ripe old  "middle age" years, you can, without any further thought, go to sleep whenever you want to, which often tends to be earlier and earlier!

You have all heard the saying  that "less is more", right?

So why do you keep adding stuff to our piles and then go through the sometimes painful process of unloading it all, or you just leave it for some unknowing family member to deal with after you die?

I recently attended a seminar at a local CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) called Riverwoods of Exeter, NH.  The focus of the seminar was to help people with the idea and then the implementation of the process of downsizing. 

The most important take-away, was that planning, needing more time than you think, and forethought about the process are necessary components of successful downsizing.  If you don't have family members or neighbors willing to help you out, thank goodness there are people whose businesses are to help you downsize. 

A group of residents spoke candidly about their varied and complicated personal experiences in the downsizing process from their homes and garages overflowing with things to a compartmentalized, much smaller space.  Efficiency is key!  The panelists spoke of their strong feelings about the agony of choosing what to keep and what not to, letting go of "treasures", watching family members tossing beloved items in dumpsters,  couples who disagreed about what was most important to keep and what was not, and their feelings of being completely overwhelmed with the tasks at hand.

Some tips:

  • Make a plan, a to do list, and use a calendar
  • Know the floor plan and do a layout of your furniture
  • Sort and sort again-keep, give away, sell, toss
  • Let go-physically and emotionally
  • Try to find the fun and humor
  • Take baby steps  

All of these overwhelming emotions erupt when someone dies and most people don't plan ahead for that moment.  Yet, I would encourage you to do some planning and some purging now and even take baby steps to cleanout the clutter that is piled up in your attic, basement, garage, desk, and mind.  Freeing yourself of the stuff that bogs you down will enable you to actually enjoy what is most important for you-whatever that is!  The panel at Riverwoods said the end result was a great sense of freedom!

Stuff is a burden;  to you, and to your family members in the end. Downsizing doesn't have to be an overwhelming task. 

Go help your parents and help yourselves and family members too.

Share with me your anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of "downsizing".