We see it all the time: people attempting to downsize but having no idea what to do or where to turn. They spend months trying to figure out what to do with their possessions but make no headway. They wrangle over collectibles, fight over furniture, and beg their frustrated children to help them get a handle on all of it.
It has been our experience that the biggest culprit in chaotic downsizing scenarios is a lack of goals. In other words, the client may know that downsizing is necessary – and that’s it. They don’t know what they want out of life after they move. Worse yet, they don’t know what to expect out of life. Our recommendation in such cases is to establish goals before the downsizing process actually begins.
We are all familiar with the idea of setting goals. It is something that has been drilled into us since the earliest days of middle school. We are all aware that setting goals provides a roadmap to help us get where we are going. We establish goals for our careers, our families, and our retirements. So shouldn’t we establish goals for downsizing?
You Want to Travel
We have worked with plenty of clients who have every intention of traveling after downsizing. Traveling is something they have always wanted to do and selling the family home in order to move into a small apartment will afford them the finances to do just that.
The goal of traveling offers a guidepost for determining what possessions to keep and what possessions to get rid of. If you are planning to be away from home for weeks or months the time, there’s probably a lot of stuff you’re not going to need any more. You will have those things that will sit gathering dust simply because you no longer have the time to use them. They can go, can’t they?
You Want to Snowbird
If constant travel is not your thing, maybe you are looking to snowbird. You plan to spend three months in New York and nine months in Florida. If so, that goal tells you a lot. It tells you not to get all worked up about filling your new place with expensive furniture. It tells you that you will be able to pare down what’s in your closet by getting rid of most of your winter clothes. It tells you those golf clubs sitting in the garage are going to find a new home in Florida.
You Want Less Housework
A common downsizing goal that has nothing to do with sorting through possessions is wanting less housework. You are tired of vacuuming carpets and sweeping floors. You are tired of constant dusting and weekly yard work. That’s fine. The goal of wanting less housework should dictate the kind of home you’re looking for.
If you are tired of yard work, look for an apartment or condo. If you are tired of vacuuming and sweeping, limit yourself to a one-bedroom flat. The point here is to not sell your family home only to move into a new home that requires just as much work. If you’re not going to get rid of the housework, you might as well stay put.
The three scenarios presented here represent just a small sample of the many goals people have for downsizing. The idea we are trying to communicate here is that establishing goals before you start the process will make downsizing a lot easier. Establishing goals will clearly define what needs to be done with everything from your existing home to the many possessions you own.
On the other hand, going into the downsizing process without goals will likely leave you confused, frustrated, and feeling like you’re making a mistake. Is that the way you want to approach the next phase of life?