When it comes to downsizing and simplifying your life, it can feel like you’ve gotten past the point of no return. You can look around and see everything going on and feel completely overwhelmed by the idea of figuring out how to do less. The great news is it’s not that difficult if you just take a moment to pause, read this article, and then take action. One of the best pieces of advice someone ever gave me was that if you look in your closet and it’s full of clothes, but you can’t find anything to wear, you have too many clothes. Our life sometimes ends up like that when we look around, and our calendars are so full that we can’t find any joy, it means we have too much going on. If you feel like that, now is the time to simplify. I’m here to help.
Adjust Your Mindset
Downsizing and simplifying starts with your mind. Theoretically, it should be easy to get rid of things and say no to activities that don’t lead you towards a life you love. While it might be easy on paper, in real life, this can be one of the hardest challenges we face as human beings. That challenge is mainly in our minds. It’s easy to pick something up and put it in the trash physically, at the same time mentally there are considerable hurdles to overcome, let’s start with jumping over a few of them.
Are You Your Belongings?
Are you your belongings? No, of course not, and yet so much of who we are gets tied up into what we own. A lot of our belongings have sentimental as well as egotistical value. You are not your belongings. Take a look at everything you have, all of the items that you possess, and ask yourself:
What attachment do I have to this?
How would I feel if I didn’t have this? Why would I feel that way?
Know that you are not your belongings and that getting rid of them does not make you any less of an amazing human being.
Why Do You Have the Things You Have?
Now that you’ve taken some time to disassociate who you are as a person from your actual belongings, let’s think about why you have the things you have. What value do they bring to your life? Do they provide a practical purpose or something else? As you look around at the things you own ask yourself what purpose do they serve. A few questions to help you down that path are:
What does this mean to me?
Is it something that has sentimental value?
What does it represent?
Is it something that helps to identify who you are in life?
Does it serve a practical purpose?
And yes, does this thing bring me joy?
Set Your Standards
Knowing that you are not your possessions and understanding the purpose that the things you own serve sets the foundation for simplifying and downsizing. The next step is to understand who you are as an individual and what your family needs. Set standards for the things that you own. Ensure that everything you bring into your house meets those standards.
Keeping Up with the Jones?
One standard you might want to set is that you only own things because you as a family want them for an essential purpose. The opposite of this would be to want something because someone else has it. If your son came to you and said I want this new pair of sneakers and you asked why and he said, “Well, because Bobby has it”. You would ask more questions: does he like the sneakers or simply wants them because that’s what the cool kids are doing?
Part of why he might want to do what the cool kids are doing is because he thinks it will make him happy. He’s young and still figuring out what makes him happy; therefore, an excellent way for him to learn is by trying to do what makes other people happy. At this point in your life, you probably have a good idea of what makes you happy. Therefore, as you like to acquire things, acquire them because you believe that they will make you happy, not because it’s what the cool adults are doing.
What Do YOU Need?
The most important standard of all is to define what you need. Knowing what makes you happy and understanding what brings you peace and joy will help you to more easily downsize and simplify your life of not only clutter and possessions but also tasks and events.
Take a moment to define what makes you happy.
Take Action Now
All right, mama here’s the rub of it – simplifying and downsizing your life can’t happen without action. To reap the benefits of simplification, you must take action. Now that you know you are not your possessions, understand why you have all the things that you have, participate in the activities you participate in, and have set standards, here are a few steps to help you get started with your downsizing.
Decluttering is the first step of downsizing and simplifying your life. Decluttering also helps to reduce stress in your life. When you look around your home, office, or car and everything is full of clutter, it sends a message to your brain that you’re living in chaos. Living in chaos is stressful. Downsize your life by getting rid of the clutter. This will help you live a more simple, joyful life but also helps reduce your stress.
Decluttering can happen in one fell swoop, or with time, it’s really up to you and what works for your schedule. As you look around your home, all of those little things that are lying out and in the way like extra electronics, cables, wires that you don’t know what they belong to anymore, and broken things that you’re planning on fixing at some point in time need to go. Get rid of them. When you’re in your closet and trying clothes on if there is something that you put on and think, I don’t like how this fits me, donate it. Getting rid of the clutter will not only help you to live more simply; it will also help you to see more beauty in the places you inhabit.
Get the Family Involved
Downsizing and simplifying your life cannot happen as a solo effort. If you live with other people, they need to get on board to make this the smoothest, most joyful ride possible. Take a moment to talk to your family about why you have the things that you have and why you want what you want. The questions that were asked earlier in this article are a great place to start. Have your family go through and discuss their answers to each one of those questions. Work together to set standards for your family of what you should and should not bring into the house as well as where you should and should not spend your time. Then hold each other accountable to stick to those standards. Working together to downsize and simplify your life will also help you to bond more deeply as a family.
There is no time like the present. Seize the day by taking action right now. Set time aside to meet and discuss downsizing and simplifying with your family. Begin to downsize your home, office, or car at the moment you walk away from this article. Answer the questions from above before the end of the day. Simplification does not happen on its own. The benefits are well worth the effort, but without you taking action, there will be no outcomes.
Take Action In The Future
As you look to the future, you can plan to keep a downsized and simplified life. Here are a few tips on how to do that.
Set a Buying Freeze Window
Set a buying freeze window. This is a time where you do not purchase anything. I’ve seen extreme cases online where people try and do this for a year – that seems a bit nuts to me and not possible. At the same time, setting a week or a weekend seems highly doable. Plan a few buying freeze windows with your family and stick to them. Those freeze windows will help you to not only appreciate what you have more but figure out better and more interesting ways to use what you already have.
Use Multi-Purpose Furniture
When you look to purchase furniture in the future, look for furniture that does more than one thing. It could be a chair that also serves as storage or a table that also serves as a desk. It doesn’t matter what the other use is but try to find furniture that can do more than one thing for you.
Set a Monthly Donation Day
You set a day, maybe the last Sunday of every month is when you will donate something. The idea is to get into the habit of once a month going through what you have and actively trying to give something away. Commit to this donation day with your family and make it a group exercise. Go to the house and find as many things as you can donate to make someone else’s life better. You’ll feel so good for having cleansed and downsized your home as well as knowing that you’re bringing joy to someone else’s life through your old stuff.
You Got This
All right, mama, you got this. Downsizing and simplifying your life can make a dramatic change not only in how you see the world but also in how you see yourself. You can bring your family closer together and help you to excel in the areas of life that matter to you most. The trick is you have to take action to receive these benefits. So get to it. If you want some more advice on how to find out how to simplify your life and find more time, be sure to sign up for my free course More Time And Less Guilt By Next Monday.
For more tips on how to downsize and simplify your life check out, Minimalist Living Ideas For Self-care.
Don’t forget to sign up for the Rose Gold Mine, my free resource library. You’ll get free printable worksheets, workbooks, and checklists to help with goal setting, time management and self-care for busy moms.