5 Easy Steps to Reinvent Yourself and Downsize Today (Part 2)

If you've ever dreamed of living in a beautiful little cottage, you need to downsize.  If you want to stay in your current home, but make it more spacious and easy to care for, you need to downsize.  If you want to make the eventual process of clearing your home less of a burden on your loved ones, you need to downsize.

Related article:  The Choice is Yours

dream cottage

Tough love

We're now entering the hardest but most necessary section of this process.  If you think the first three steps were a challenge, prepare yourself.  

Remember your motto:  

Life is not measured by how much you own. 
Luke 12:15

Downsize: Steps 4 and 5
4.  Choose some keepsakes.

  • Framed photos and documents or mementos you see and handle on a regular basis are items you deemed worth displaying in the past.  Curate the best from this select group, and feel confident that they effectively represent your life.
  • Include any photo albums or scrapbooks.  You've taken time and effort to put these together – they deserve to be kept and enjoyed by you and your descendants.
  • Keep three, or at most four, collections.  Figure out which are your favorites.  (By the way, books are a collection.  So are Christmas decorations.)
  • Choose your favorite pieces of wall art.  Set a limit, such as two or three items for each room of your new home.  (Okay, okay... you don't have to count a wall clock or your dresser mirror as wall d├ęcor.)

  • They aren't keepsakes, but you'll need important papers such as birth and marriage certificates, military discharge papers, loan documents or deeds, tax returns and the like.  For most people, these documents can be stored in one sturdy fireproof box.*

* This blog is reader-supported.  When you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.


If you have memorabilia piled in boxes, decomposing in your garage or basement (or even three miles away behind a locked gate in a storage facility), admit that no matter your emotional response, the truth is they don't actually mean much.  If they did, you would have done more than toss them into a box.

Maybe you're saying, "But they're my memories!"  They aren't facilitating memories – they're in a pile at the back of a closet.  If a family member has offered to go through and digitize them, don't presume on his patience and good nature.  There's no reason for him to deal with what you couldn't be bothered to do yourself.  Choose one box to give to that generous person, and be thankful that he may make it worthwhile.

Related article: Memories, Not Mementos

5.  Sell, donate, or throw away the rest.

Yep, you read that right.  I'm talking about:

  • special occasion serving dishes
  • basketball trophies
  • books you haven't opened in years
  • old camping equipment
  • the piano no one plays
  • those extra chairs... 

Release them.  Don't investigate the boxes, closets, attics, storage sheds, barns, under the beds, or anywhere else your accumulated items have gone to molder.  Release them all.

You won't miss what you never even looked at.

Please notice that only Steps 1 and 2 include items that are necessary to life (clothing and housewares) – and I bet you still have some extras mixed in.  

Steps 3 and 4 (hobbies and keepsakes) are embellishments.  They nurture your personality, interests, memories, and values.  Even if you remove everything else after doing the first four steps, you're not in a deprived, comfortless situation.

Attachment to most objects is fleeting.  Think how much we buy in any given year that is no longer in use by the next.  When we box things up and store them away, or move them to a new house and then don't get around to unpacking them for several months (or maybe never), it's pretty clear we have no particular need or affection for those items.  Go to a yard sale, and notice all the things going for $1 or $2.  They aren't special at all.  They're just stuff.

Once settled into your new life, you won't miss the stuff you got rid of.  You'll be too busy meeting new people and learning and doing new things.  You'll find that you enjoy being light and flexible.  Rather than tending to your piles of belongings, you can enjoy the people and activities that really matter to you.  It's a joyful way to live.

Related article: Why You Need to Start Death Cleaning Today

Updated May 2023


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