Avoiding the Downsizing Downers

Even the word “downsizing” is depressing — as in downsizing company employees, downsizing living space, downsizing possessions you’ve collected over a lifetime.

The good news is: taking a “glass half-full” approach can become strangely full of promise for many who are making a lifestyle transition from big to smaller living quarters, and from way-too-much stuff to “just right” when it comes to paring down their possessions at midlife and beyond.

The sweet cottage on the left was the solution for a couple in California who had bought their “trophy house” when the Dot Com frenzy was at its height. Now, with the kids grown, their high-salaried jobs gone with the wind, and relentless maintenance costs gobbling up their nest egg, they took a very large leap of faith and decided to “downsize.”

They sold the big house, banked a chunk of change, and moved back into this little house they’d kept rented out from their newlywed days. At first the wife had a major case of the “downsizing downers.”  She was inconsolable about losing her state-of-the-art kitchen and worried about what the neighbors thought of their “come down.” Then her husband suggested that they buy a 55-foot barge to float down the canals of France a couple of months a year so he could paint landscapes and she could roam the farmers markets, whipping up wonderful al fresco meals as they drifted through the bucolic countryside.

Sounds pretty pricey and out of reach for most fifty-somethings, yes?    The “Phaedra” cost less than a luxury RV and had twice the charm.  Not only that, the husband is actually selling his paintings when he comes back to home base, and the wife designed a professional move management business she shuts down when she’s away, and relaunches as soon as she’s back in her cottage!  

Presto! They’d gone from a downsizing downer to a “rightsizing” scenario, keeping only the possessions they loved and used in this new, adventurous chapter of their lives.

It’s All About Attitude

Always loved gardening? If you’re thinking about rightsizing your life, keep the gardening tools, but perhaps recycle your old briefcases to a job-training organization and donate the battered luggage you formerly used when your job required three business junkets a month to a women’s shelter. You’ve got a new life and your stuff should reflect that!

Are baseball cards your passion? Or has the thrill-of-the-chase passed you by and now you’re seriously interested in adding to your grandchild’s college fund? Sell the cards on eBay and buy that savings bond to put in someone’s stocking next holiday.

But what if the “fear factor” about letting go of things–be they possessions, symbols of a former way of life, or just plain “stuff.”  More on that next time.

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