Last month Thom came across an article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) with a headline that said, “Everybody Says You Should Downsize. Everybody May Be Wrong.” We both found that statement to be so incredulous that we had to reread it. And we weren’t alone in our surprise. Most of the other comments online also questioned many of the negative points offered in the article. Clearly the author herself had not downsized and it was also obvious that her focus came from an outdated definition of the concept. Naturally that got me thinking that maybe most of us approach the topic from the wrong direction to begin with. Instead of thinking of it as “down” sizing—maybe we should consider it to be “right”-sizing. And once we get the label right—it is much easier to consider the real benefits that come from living a lifestyle that is right-sized from the beginning.
Thom and I didn’t start out searching for a way to right-size. In fact, it wasn’t until about five years ago that the shift inside us began. Just like many people at the time, we never actually considered that there was a difference. Up until that point we were like many Americans who thought success was having a large impressive house, all the money necessary to buy things we enjoyed, and work that would continue to make more and more money to keep that lifestyle growing. But what might have made us different from many of our fellow Americans was the awareness that at some point something had to give. Growth without adjustment is unsustainable. Striving for more and more at all cost is unnatural. Breathing in, without breathing out, just doesn’t work for very long.
In 2007 we suspected that the American economy was headed for trouble. Most people we knew were deeply in debt (luckily we’d learned that lesson during the previous recession). Real estate prices had exploded to unrealistic highs with mortgage terms that few people could ever pay back. The square footage on most homes had swelled from 1,400 in 1970, to 2,700 in 2009. By the same token, both men and women in America packed on weight, on the average, of around 20 pounds more than they did back in 1990. Our country was addicted to bigger, more, and growth at all cost, but something needed to change.