Barry is at a crossroads. His spirited and sparkly daughters are moving on with their adult lives (graduating, leaving the nest) and he’s eager to downsize and step into a new phase of his own life. It’s bittersweet, for sure, to have this moment of sending freshly formed adults (Weren’t they just babies?) out into the world and then facing your own future with a mix of uncertainty, excitement, possibility and a teeny pinch of fear. He’s brave! And dedicated to dumping an additional 80% (!!!) of what he owns to clear space so his health, wealth and relationships can flourish. We have gone through ALL of his boxes of STUFF once: apple cores mixed with tax papers mixed with socks, candy wrappers and a heap of unopened mail. He has seen first-hand how clearing clutter has changed his life so far and with this transition on the horizon he’s excited to invite in even more of the good stuff!
Here are some of tips for making your downsizing experience go smoothly…
~Paint the picture of your future: As foggy and fuzzy as it may seem, this first step is crucial. Do not skip creating your vision of the future! Many, many people put on their blinders and AVOID looking at both their future AND the chaos and clutter in their homes and lives. This “non-action” makes them feel sluggish and, in some cases, down-right paralyzed. One result is that their homes can take on a museum or shrine-like quality, a monument to the past. A client I worked with still had intact Lego creations that her sons had built and the “kids” were in their 30s! (Yep, we lovingly dismantled ‘em :)) If your home has this quality and it keeps you feeling stuck in the past, consider sweeping out the stagnant stuff so you can enjoy the new adventures that are waiting ahead on your path!
What’s important to you as you move forward? Barry says: a luscious relationship with his sweetie, his ever-increasing good health, kicking his career into high gear, and creating art and music. He intentionally uses these 4 goals to guide him in his decision-making process. If the items in his home do not support these hopes and dreams, then out they go!
~ Give yourself at least 6 months to thoroughly downsize: It takes TIME! Most people SERIOUSLY underestimate the amount of stuff they store and keep. Often they have never directly addressed whether or not their possessions serve them. Downsizing offers an opportunity to deliberately choose the items that will boost you into the future.
Items that typically need weeding: Holiday decorations, Sports equipment, Kid mementos (maybe you’ll keep one box for each until they get to a permanent location), and PAPER!
And speaking of paper, now’s the time (you’ll have more time) to scan, digitize and LET GO of archived files, old work, etc. There are very few files that need to be kept in paper form--(things with a seal on them, birth certificates, etc.) and permanent records. A SMALL amount--I will dare to say two file drawers or less, WAY LESS! Photos fall into this category, too (see last week’s post).
~ Be gentle with yourself--Hey! this is not easy!!!! So many emotions pop up (as with any transition in life). Acknowledge and continue to work with the physical objects. As painful as it may be, working with the energy of your space will give you a tangible way to work through feelings. Journal, talk to a friend, take breaks, but focus, keep going in some way so that your efforts will bring you the future you’ve envisioned for yourself.
Barry and I are just starting this second round of editing at his place...we have set aside two afternoons a month to get his space feeling light and lean. His lease is up at the end of December (8 months away). This takes the urgency out of the task, makes it do-able, practical, easier to assimilate the changes as they happen. So plan ahead, and just keep going, the results will be magically amazing!
~Celebrate! You know I’m big on celebrating (and for me it usually involves chocolate). Completing (a section) and celebrating are the secret fuel for continuing. If you set the goal of sifting through all the photos and then all you have to look forward to is tackling the file cabinets, you will poop out quickly, guaranteed!
If, however, you sift through the photos and then celebrate by taking a walk in the sun and dancing around the living room--I will venture to say that you will be FAR more likely to take on the next cardboard box.
I get that this is tough to do by yourself. Contact me if you want support as you dive in and make your space (and life) sparkle!
123rf: Tony Link