December 16, 2009

Is downsizing a dirty word?

It certainly is in the business world.  And in the last few years many more people have experienced the pain of having their job eliminated, leaving them with a bad feeling whenever they hear that word.

But downsizing now also applies to the process of reducing things we have accumulated in our personal lives.  It may need to happen to cope with a job loss, or to adjust to current economic conditions.  But for most the personal downsizing urge kicks in sometime after retirement.  The kids are gone, and we are living a simpler life.  We look around at the big house that served the family well in the past, and ask “Do I really need all this anymore?”

Now downsizing is change and change can be difficult for many.  But there is a way to approach it positively and end up feeling good about what you have done.  Here are a few tips if you are thinking about downsizing.

  1. Start small by going through a drawer, a closet or a room at a time. 
  2. As you sort ask yourself if you are likely to use an item again, and if not, out it goes.  We all have things like sports equipment long after we are keen to do it again (out with those Roller Blades!).
  3. If you find items that have deep sentimental value bring them out so you can see them and be reminded more often.  Keep only a few pictures of special holidays.  Give those old report cards to the kids.
  4. When you go through your closet you will inevitably find items that no longer fit, or you no longer need to wear  (how many business suits does a retiree really need?).  Think about how great some needy people in the community would feel if they had a new outfit to wear to job interviews.
  5. Think about selling hidden gems.  Gold is at an all time high so both coins and old jewellery can bring you some extra dollars for a special evening out.

Downsizing doesn’t have to be a dirty word.  It can be a trip down memory lane and a chance to showcase those really special items.  It can allow you to gift things to family, friends and strangers and know that you have made others happy.  And it will give you a feeling of lightness.  It is much more pleasant to open drawers that aren’t stuffed to overflowing. 

Try it….one step at a time.

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