Downsizing to a smaller place is often perceived as some sort of failure in mid or later life. We are taught that more is better and downsizing must mean that we haven’t succeeded.
But the fact is that our stuff is holding us hostage. It drags us down and keeps us working soul-killing hours to maintain the larger house and lifestyle. All the stuff was supposed to make our lives easier (see the Story of Stuff and Why We’re Addicts), but the truth is we have become slaves to it. The more stuff we have, the more space, energy and money we need to maintain it, not to mention the huge toll it is taking on our planet!
Downsizing can be a tremendous act of freedom. Imagine that you could live in a home with just the right amount of stuff; the things you truly love and need on a regular basis. How much time and energy would it free up to live the life you dreamed you would live when you were in your teens or twenties?
Meditation: Take 10 minutes to sit with your eyes closed, breathe in and out slowly for 10 breaths, and imagine what you would be doing if you didn’t have to maintain all the stuff you have? How would your life be different? How much time and energy is spent maintaining your stuff, such as organizing it, clutter clearing and cleaning it? What would you do instead?
Once we have the aha moment about how much the accumulation of material possessions has kept us drained of energy and distracted from living the life we truly want, we can choose to change. We don’t have to be a victim to our stuff.
Here are 5 tips to help you get going, get downsizing and get on the path of freedom!
It might take you six months, but once you go through every part of your home applying these principles, you will see how little space you really need to be happy. You can then move to a smaller space, pay less for it and free up time and money for the adventures you still need to have in your life!
- Do the clutter test with everything you own….do I love it, is it useful, when was the last time I used it? If more than a year old, decide whether you are going to give it away or sell it. Be very thoughtful about what you save. Is everything you own worthy of a space in your home or office? Do you really want to spend time and money maintaining it and housing it?
- Rent or Borrow the things you only need periodically. There are companies and organizations you can join that allow you to rent the camping gear, tables and chairs for Thanksgiving dinner, fishing gear or skis you need every two years. Do we all really need the huge garages to house the things that we use infrequently? I borrow the tables and chairs for large parties from my neighbor whom I do favors for in exchange. This practice encourages us to get to know our neighbors and become a part of our community.
- Make sure as many pieces of furniture as possible have a multi-purpose. Coffee tables can house books and magazines and secretaries can disguise a home office. Less furniture allows for us to live in a smaller space and still have it feel spacious.Make sure to separate work areas from play areas by using furniture that is multi-functional.
- Regarding the mementos and furniture that has a sentimental value: if no one wants the item, take a picture of it, write the story behind the object and send it out to your family via Facebook or e mail. Then donate or sell the item and allow it to become a part of someone else’s family story. We can’t take it with us so let it go on to its next incarnation.
- Reduce, recycle, reuse and keep clutter from entering the home in the first place. My article on Creating a Zero Waste Home is loaded with tips on how to do so.
Go for the downsizing and get on with the dreams that you still need to realize!
Erica Sofrina is a motivational speaker, teacher and author and founder of the West Coast Academy of Feng Shui where she teaches western Feng Shui for Contemporary lifestyles. She offers Practitioner Certification Programs and seminars on-site and in home study.Find out more at www.ericasofrina.com She is the author of the book Small Changes Dynamic Results! Feng Shui for the Western World