The Challenge of Downsizing:


This sucks. It all sucks. It’s hard. It’s awful. You will feel like a failure because in a way, you are. Everything you accumulated you did so for a reason. Two screws and this will work again. A little TLC and that will be good as new. When I have time, I’ll paint this and list it on eBay. But you never do. You never take the broken and make it whole. You never take the whole and sell it. And you never take the dead electronics to the proper disposal site. You are a failure.


Or are you? Life…well it’s busy. There are only 24 hours in a day and only seven of those days in a week. And you are supposed to be sleeping for 8 of those, properly grooming yourself for another hour, taking care of kids, pets, a house hold, and spouses, maybe even working for up to 10 hours. Eating. Rinse and repeat.


But that chair you found in the garbage that just needs to be reupholstered with the fabric you bought on sale with the staple gun that used to be your grandfather’s is still there. You’ve moved it twice, tripped over it several times, and the cat has peed on it more times than you will ever know. You know the chair is there. You know you spent the money on the fabric. You’ve lied awake at night dreaming of the time when you can finally sit on the finished product. But that’s all you’ve done with this chair. You’ve spent money on it. You’ve dragged it with you. It weights you down. It stresses you out. It represents you and it represents failure.

How many of these failure trophies do you carry around? Me? I have dozens. The exact number is hard to pin down as the things I’ve accumulated have been reallocated to different projects depending on the flavor of the month. Projects that never get started, let alone completed. They weigh me down. They make it hard to move. They make it hard to move on. They make it hard to sleep at night and to get up in the morning. It all takes up space. So much space.

And I can’t get rid of it. I pull it out of storage. Set aside time and energy to go through it. This is the time I sort through it. This is where I take charge of my stuff. But I don’t. Instead I find something that I forgot about. Hmmm….I spent money on this. I know this can be used for something. I just need a part from this and a part from that and then learn how to code C++ to control the electronics that I’ll buy someday. I should save this. Hmm…if I’m going to save this, then I should save the other things as well. If I’m going to save those things, then I need these tools. Oh…those can be used on this as well. Before you know it, I’ve gotten rid of exactly nothing except time and energy.

I guess my stuff, the things that I bought to use later on, represents hope. Hope of a day when I am on top of everything and I have the time to do things. Artsy things. Crafty things. Interesting things. But I have failed. I have failed to find the time. I have failed to learn the things. I have failed to have enough energy. I have failed and all my crap is a testament to my failure. Or is it? If I save it just a little longer then maybe things will be different. I’ll find the time. It’s not a failure if I eventually succeed. Gahh…..

That’s why it’s so hard to throw away things. You are throwing away hopes, dreams, possibilities, capital, and time. You have to admit failure before you can downsize.

Of course downsizing isn’t really failure. It’s success. You have a life. You take care of others. You make yourself a better person and therefore you make those around you better. You use your time the way you have to and a lot of times the way you have to isn’t the way you want to.

So take a deep breath. Take your stuff and get rid of it. Touch everything you have. Pull it out of storage. Ask yourself, when was the last time I used this? When will I use it? If there is a hesitation, toss it. If you hesitate before tossing it, ask why. Is it sentimental? Is it a display piece? Is it a direct replacement for something you are already using? What does keeping this thing cost you financially and mentally? If you lost this thing in a fire, how would you feel?

In short, power through the emotions and just toss it. Be done. Live lighter. Live cleaner. And if you made a mistake and really need that thing? Just buy it again.

Don’t be the things you own. Be you. Be free.