When you reach the midlife marker, you’ll likely benefit from preparing to move into a smaller space. Who’s still in the house has changed and the same goes for your needs and interests. In fact, downsizing your home can truly amplify the freedom to focus on what matters most to you now!
But if the thought of an actual move and all the decisions associated with that makes you exhausted before you’ve even started, now what? Do you put it off, delaying until you’re forced to take action? That doesn’t sound too pleasant, either!
The truth is, it’s universal to resist change. Yet if we don’t start the downsizing process sooner than later, it will result in making endless decisions under duress, during a very short period of time.
If you’re unable to make uncluttering choices, others will have to do it for you. Either paid professionals will sort through your personal belongings or your own family will need to shoulder the task. Is that the ideal legacy you envision leaving behind?
To be clear, downsizing your home requires effort and time. However, this is exactly why starting now will position you so much better for how you want your next life chapter to unfold. You have the final word with what happens with your stuff and also where you land. And really, isn’t having control what we all want to retain?
Today's post shares 9 vital steps that facilitate the process of downsizing your home
#1: The Power of Now
While all of the steps shared here are important, they don’t need to be performed in any particular order … except for this one. Until you start, downsizing your home will be just a good idea for “some day”. And the only way to turn “some day” into “today” is by taking action now.
Why is it difficult to begin? There are any number of reasons for dragging your feet, but it’s usually our feelings that play a primary role: It feels overwhelming. It feels sad. Maybe it feels like work when you’d rather play. Everything entailed with downsizing your home can feel like all of this at once, yikes!
Nevertheless, what’s the most common reason for resistance? We feel like it’s too soon — that we have time. And while that could very well be true, exactly how much time do you have: is it 1 year, 5 years or 20 years? It’s really a guessing game, don’t you think?
When you realize this, starting now begins to make a lot of sense. And the best way to embrace a new routine is by taking small, deliberate steps. After reading this post, why not spend 15-20 minutes on creating a basic downsizing plan for yourself? Start with a list of the benefits you will realize as a result. And keep tweaking your plan as you hone in on what makes sense for you. Doesn’t it feel good to be in charge of your next chapter?
#2: Declutter Daily
If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know this one is near and dear to my heart! Decluttering is an incredible vehicle for releasing what is no longer relevant now. It opens up space between your essentials.
And obviously, the nature of downsizing is that your new place will have less square footage. But that’s only in regards to physical stuff. Downsizing your home actually makes room for the time and energy to focus on what matters now. So yes, it’s an expansive activity, when you think about it!
Also, keep in mind that your decluttering sessions don’t have to be all day affairs. 30 minutes a day can make significant inroads with letting go of extra, expired, no-longer-needed stuff. In fact, removing clutter facilitates space planning for your new landing spot, too!
Refer to this post for what not to haul to your new digs: Downsizing Tips: 5 Big Things to Release & 5 Awesome Alternatives for a Smaller Space.
#3: Design Your Next Chapter
After years of tending to the needs of others … our employers, our families, and our communities … now is the time to contemplate what you want to do more of! How exciting is that?
Now don’t get me wrong: the life choices made were (hopefully) quite deliberate and satisfying. And of course, you’ve carved out some “me time” along the way. But that time can likely start to double or triple once you’re over 50.
It may feel strange to contemplate spending more time in a different way, going deeper with what interests you now. But as you clear space in your home, you can begin to envision what you’d like to explore that you didn’t have the time for, until now. And if you’re married or with a life partner, there will be the opportunity to discover new mutual activities, as well!
Check out this post for more concepts about shifting into your next life chapter: 5 Ways to Harness Your Midlife Transition and Avert a Midlife Crisis!
#4: Research Your Options
This is a step that calls for a way to gather ideas about where you’d like to live and how you see that space accommodating your new chapter’s activities. Nothing fancy is needed: an old school notebook, a Pinterest board, or a folder on your computer all work fine.
Without a doubt, there are an infinite number of places where you could land. It could very well be a stepping stone for yet another downsizing move, as your needs change with age. So think about what would realistically meet your needs and desires for the next 10-20 years. And then go deeper to see where those options are, within the geographic radius you’ve set. Road trip, anyone?
#5: Documents & Vital Records
Now you may already be super organized with your personal records. But it never hurts to revisit financial and health documents to ensure they are up-to-date and accessible when needed.
Where are you at with the following basic records:
- A will
- An Advanced Health Care Initiative (AHCI)
- An appointed executor for your estate
- Specific written bequeaths (or have you only expressed your wishes verbally? Is everyone on the same page?)
- A list of current medications/dosages
- A list of current physicians
- Power of Attorney (general or specific)
- A list of current creditors and account numbers
- A list of current assets with account numbers
Annually reviewing your vital records will help you and your representative make smooth decisions that reflect your wishes and best interests.
Head here for more intel on the essential health and financial documents which express your wishes when you are unable to communicate them yourself: Caregiver.org resources.
#6: Communicate Your Vision
Once you’ve verified that your financial and health care documentation is in order, who needs to know? Whoever will be acting on your behalf should be kept in the loop.
Certainly, not all details need to be disclosed ahead of time, such as exact account balances. But access to the documentation when needed is crucial so that your wishes can be carried out. Leaving behind an orderly legacy means you will not be passing along an unnecessary burden to your loved ones.
If the conversation feels awkward or difficult, you could handle it as simply as a sealed envelope with the instructions to open in the event of catastrophic illness (you are not conscious or able to make decisions) or death. Or keep it in a home safe but share the combination with your appointed “go-to” person.
I know, talking about end-of-life decisions is not a cheerful or easy topic! However, if you have certain desires for medical care, estate distribution and your funeral/life celebration, you need to relay your wishes.
Sometimes, people think, “It doesn’t matter once I’m gone”, but it does to whoever needs to make those decisions on your behalf. Why not make the process clear? And in doing so, it’s also an opportunity for you to reflect on your own life and how you want to be remembered.
#7: Honor Your Past
To be clear, downsizing your home means releasing stuff that once mattered. So it can feel a little disrespectful of where you’ve been and who was there with you.
Indeed, it takes time to embrace the idea that a life chapter has ended. But what if you viewed the process as a time to appreciate your journey thus far? And now it’s time for a new chapter to unfold … and you get to be the author, so start drafting your vision!
As a matter of fact, this approach is known as “Döstädning”, or “Swedish Death Cleaning”. It transforms downsizing and decluttering into a positive process to chart your next move. For more, check out this post: Swedish Death Cleaning: A Savvy Celebration of Life.
Ultimately, our personal belongings are merely representations of our journey and the people who were with us along the way. Yes, some of the memories can fade over time. But the love always remains.
#8: Accept Change Gracefully
Undoubtedly, change is not always a welcome visitor at our door! When we feel content with the status quo, having it disrupted is unpleasant. But ignoring or resisting change doesn’t keep it at bay, does it?
If you think about it, lack of control and fear of the unknown seem to be the common culprits for why we oppose change. Yet we do have power: we can control our outlook, our attitude and our response to the twists and turns of our life journey.
In other words, knowing that change is inevitable, we can proactively take steps to acknowledge it but on our own terms! That’s where downsizing comes into play. We know that an overly large home and too much unused stuff in it doesn’t support our current or future needs. When we plan for our next smaller space, we control where and what it will be.
#9: Embrace Your Journey
Lastly, we don’t know exactly what our future holds, do we? But it certainly feels better to remain upbeat and optimistic. And this includes making realistic housing choices for where we are now and where we want to be.
Not everything has to be super-sized when it comes to our material possessions. Imagine if we focused on supersizing our next life chapter instead? What would make you eager to jump out of bed each morning? How can you share your talents, interests and abilities now? What will bring you joy? How can you make a difference today, with your wisdom and experience thus far?
When you think about life in these terms, you’ll continue to appreciate your unique path. And that sounds like a very full life to me, what do you think?
The Wrap: This post reviewed 9 tips that ensure downsizing your home gets going in a timely and effective manner
- Downsizing the family home doesn’t have to be a downer when you view it as a liberating step leading to your next life chapter!
- Decluttering paves the way to designing a new space with what matters now … here’s any easy way to do it—> A Decluttering Checklist for Better Living Today, Not “Some Day”!
- Take control and define where you want to land next by starting now!
Related Topics & Resources To Explore
The Ultimate Decluttering Guide To Get It Done!
Motivation to Declutter: 5 Free Tools to Get Going & Get It Done
Clutter: Control What Creeps Back in Your Home Using These 7 Savvy Strategies
Decluttering Ideas to Release Other People’s Stuff (Without the Guilt!)
Watch: Downsizing Tips for Maximizing Condo Space