Taking control of rightsizing your life and home

The word “downsizing” has never appealed to me. I suppose it was from my many years of working in the corporate world and watching my dear friend and human resources director give pink slips to hundreds of people as our company “downsized.” 

Whenever I think of downsizing, I think of loss, people losing their jobs, out on the streets looking for another job to support your family. Not a very happy time.

One of the main obstacles I encounter when I meet people ready to sell their home, or in their words “downsize,” is the overwhelming attachment to not only the memories they created, but the material “things” accumulated over years living in the home. 

Similar to the corporate world, many people I meet associate downsizing as having to give up something, a lifestyle or memories of a loved one. But the biggest one of all is change. It becomes such an obstacle for many people, they become so overwhelmed, they do nothing. 

This occurs especially with seniors who have lived in their home for more than 25 years. What happens next can be a recipe for disaster as a health crisis for example, forces the seller to make a move in a short period of time. This impacts the entire family as they attempt to juggle not only the sale of the home, but the health of mom and dad. It can be traumatic and heartbreaking for everyone involved.

For the last home I sold, the adult son lived in Texas and was trying to juggle his duties as an employee, father and husband, while traveling to California to clean out his parent’s home of 40 years. His parents vacated the home more than a year ago, when he moved them into an assisted living community closer to family. When I met with him at his parent’s home, it was still filled with 40 years of family memories and other “things.”

Because of these heartbreaking situations, I have become passionate about “rightsizing.” My presentations try to change the mindset some perceive as “giving up” my large, beautiful home they can no longer afford to maintain, to having the best possible quality of life. Stop letting material possessions control the choices and decisions that need to be made. So what is rightsizing?

Rightsizing is about breaking free of home responsibilities that are no longer necessary. With rightsizing, you get to decide what matters most and what parts of your past can be left behind. Nothing should monopolize your time and space unless it’s physiologically and emotionally valuable. Surround yourself with things that make you happy. Life is short, and it’s time to be ready for your next adventure.

There are however, important questions to ask yourself. What are some experiences you’ve always wanted to do, but never made the time for? What’s holding you back from change? Are your memories controlling important decisions you need to make? 

Rightsizing is about taking back control of your life, instead of letting your things control you.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

1) If you get overwhelmed easily, set a timer for 15 minutes. Dedicate this time to eliminating things that are broken, damaged or no longer wanted. After 15 minutes is up, if you feel you can go longer, keep going. Focus on one room at a time, one drawer at a time. Commit to doing this every day until the job is completed.

2) Ask for help. A family member, good friend or even a professional move manager/organizer can help make the job more manageable. Asking for help is especially important if you can’t reach items in hard to reach places.

3) Be a blessing to others. What you no longer use, can be a blessing to someone who is just getting started in life, or getting back on their feet. This can include organizations supporting victims of domestic abuse, foster kids, homeless shelters and more. 

4) Does it make you happy or sad? You don’t have to get rid of everything. If it still makes you happy by all means keep it. But, if it makes you sad, melancholy or makes you visit a heartbreak or loss, why keep it?


These are just a few tips to get you moving in the right direction. Susie Rowan of Caring Transitions and I will present at Claremont Manor on Wednesday, June 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the topic of rightsizing. If you would like to join us RSVP to Ralph Constantini at Claremont Manor, (909) 971-6135.

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, call or text to schedule a free consultation at (909) 636-2744.

—Pamela Bergman-Swartz

Coldwell Banker


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