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The two phases of life: Accumulating and Decluttering

November 2, 2023
Large Bookshelf

I'm thinking about this quote today from two perspectives:

1) The busy young families who are (more than likely) unintentionally acquiring more things than they know what to do with

2) Those who are onto the second phase of life - and either want or need to start downsizing their belongings

Neither place or feeling is ideal, so here are a few thoughts on the matter that may help...

First, can we stop the cycle of accumulating?

Did you know that by having less, you can have more? I'm no mathematician, but studies have shown that owning less stuff - less clutter, less clothes, less toys, less everything - can lead to more joy, more time, more energy, more money (and less stress and anxiety).

But the only way to have less is to stop acquiring it or start letting it go.

I spend a lot of time with my clients coaching them through the process of letting things go, but we don't focus as much on adjusting habits to acquire less - and I think that's just as important.

The more we can say no to acquiring more (ex: let it sit in the Amazon shopping cart a few days to decide if we really need it... Or, decide that we're going to let the ship sail on the latest denim trend without buying in), the less we will have to let go of later. It's kind of a liberating idea, isn't it?

Too late, I already have a house full of stuff!

Whoops, me too. Now what?

With age and experience likely comes the perspective and clarity that the best things in life aren't things. But, as we age, we also feel more tied to certain physical items because we equate those items with memories. When we feel like we have to start decluttering or downsizing our homes, it can also feel like we are giving up parts of our old lives or our independence. Both can feel intimidating and negative.

A few thoughts:

  • Less can be More: When you simplify your belongings, you simplify your life, thereby making it easier. Focus on what truly matters, what you want to take into your future with you and eliminate the excess. Remind yourself of the positives of owning less - less to clean, less to maintain...
  • Prioritize Memories: Cherish memories and experiences over material possessions. Photographs, stories, and shared moments hold more significance than stuff. Whether your kids or grandkids want your stuff or not, share with them the memories you have - because those they will treasure forever.
  • Pass It On: Items that no longer serve you may be treasures to someone else. Consider donating, selling, or passing them on to others who can benefit. There are so many people right here in our local community who truly need items that are just sitting in our basements collecting dust. I'm happy to share my resources, just ask!
  • The Gift of Time: As we downsize and declutter, we gain time – time to pursue hobbies, travel, and enjoy the company of loved ones. And time is the best gift of all.

When it feels overwhelming, break it down into smaller pieces

When it comes to taking the plunge into decluttering your home and downsizing your belongings, here's what's normal:

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Not knowing where to start
  • Prioritizing everything else in life above this so you're too busy to do it
  • Procrastinating until it's urgent
  • Feeling sad or emotional
  • Feelings of panic about where the stuff should or can go

The good news is, there are people out there (professional organizers and senior move managers) who do this for a living so that you don't have to.

If you're struggling, reach out! The sooner the better - time to work through this process gradually is the best gift you can give yourself.

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