For many, the word "downsizing" can be a heavy one. It carries the perceived weight of a sea change: a new life, a new home, new routines. When the future is unknown, we are less able to visualize it. The many small tasks required to downsize, lumped together, can snowball and begin to feel insurmountable.
So rather than trying to imagine how to downsize, first picture what downsizing will give you.
A smaller home, full only of the things you love. Less stuff to take care of, fewer things to clean and maintain. Less home to pay taxes on. A simpler life.
Once embraced, these choices will begin to take shape naturally. We tend to think that downsizing means living with less, when in fact, it is about making more space for what really matters to you.
So how to make getting from Point A, your current state, to Point B, your future state, a reality?
Here's the answer. Downsizing is really a series of small steps and decisions. Each of these steps has one critical thing in common: people.
The trick to making this process feel less overwhelming is obtaining help from the right people. This doesn't mean spending an arm and a leg (though you certainly can if you want to outsource the entire project). It means asking for referrals from those in whom you have placed your trust. One really great referral will open the door to another one, and so on. People who work in the downsizing business are full of excellent resources! It is our job.
Once you have made the decision to downsize, here is what we recommend to avoid overwhelm.
1. Sit down, either with your partner, a friend or on your own if you prefer, and write down your end goal. Picture the size of home you'd like to relocate to, the location and your dreams for what that will look and feel like. Imagining the end goal and keeping it in sight is SO helpful. Store this vision in your mind, and pull it out when you feel overwhelmed.
2. Write out a few smaller steps that you need to do - even just baby steps - to begin to bring that project to fruition. This could be: "look into the value of our home," or "start organizing the garage." It doesn't matter if this not a complete list - the trick is to begin writing things down in a central place, and to keep writing tasks down as you go. A person's working memory can only handle a few things at a time, so writing them down gets the thoughts out of your head and frees your brain space for more important things.
Writing things down gets them out of your head and onto paper!
3. Next to each of the items, write down the name (or occupation, if you don't know anyone) of the person that can help you achieve this task. It might be the name of your realtor, a professional organizer, a family member or child, a cleaner, handy-person and so on. Once you shift your thinking away from all of the tasks that you need to do, and toward the people who can be of service, you will begin to feel that the load is being shared. This goes a long way towards reducing overwhelm.
As stated, this process doesn't mean spending a fortune hiring people to help you. It means starting the process by relying on one person who can be of use. Realtors are often your best friend in these situations. They have a vast treasure trove of knowledge about local vendors, and can refer you not only to a service professional, but the right one for you and your needs. Professional organizers are also full of resources for donating and recycling items, and will often remove unwanted items from your home for you. We are also very knowledgeable about local services, and can refer you to the right service experts to help your project move forward.
Yes, downsizing can feel overwhelming. But gathering knowledge is to become empowered, and that is how you drive away anxiety. Keep an eye out for educational seminars and meetups that will help fill in that gap. If you are in the Portland area, you might consider attending Empowered Change - Directing Your Destiny: Education Seminar for those 55+. There will be a number of professionals speaking on downsizing at this event, including us - Tidy Solutions PDX - a local realtor, at-home care provider and independent / assisted care facilities representatives. You can RSVP here!