Have you downsized from a larger home to a smaller one?

It was fun and easy, right?

Do you still have unopened boxes that you have no clue what’s inside of them?



Have you ever asked yourself WHY you brought so many things with you even though you knew you were trying to downsize?

This might sound a little radical and even a little harsh, especially to those of you who have experienced the stress and overwhelm of the downsizing process, but DOWNSIZING THE PHYSICAL SPACE MAY ACTUALLY BE THE EASIEST PART OF THE DOWNSIZING JOURNEY.

We are living cluttered lives:
– Too many commitments
– Too many should’s and have-to’s
– Not enough time or energy for things that really matter to us.

But it’s not just the physical clutter that invades our homes and workplace.

It is also the mental and emotional clutter that clutters our minds, causing stress, overwhelm, and uncertainty that detracts from the quality of our lives: guilt, resentment, worry, too many commitments, not enough boundaries.


This is what prevents us from making room for the life we really want… a life we can actually have IF we just do a little soul searching to deal with the inside clutter that stops us from having a life we want and deserve.


As an interior designer and lifestyle design expert for over 35 years I have had the privilege of impacting thousands of people’s lives throughout the United States.  Inspired by a trip to a 3rd world country 8,000 miles from here where the villagers had nothing, but they were happy.  I downsized from my 5,000 sq. ft. home in the country to my 867 sq. ft. jewel-box apartment in Historic Philadelphia. I gave away 95% of what I once owned to people who needed it or wanted it – I have all I want and all I need an I’ve never been happier.  I WENT FROM A LIFE FULL OF “STUFF” TO A LIFE FILLED WITH MEANING.  I now write and speak around the country about the profound impact of living with less “stuff” including less emotional and mental clutter.  As the Downsizing Designer I am committed to inspiring and empowering baby boomers to live with less so they can live more.



Research suggests that as baby boomers transition into their 3rd act, they want a simpler, more meaningful life without the burden of all of their clutter, both inside and out.

Research also suggest that while this can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling times of our lives, we are also experiencing some deep seated fears and concerns that might weigh us down.

3 Greatest Fears of Baby Boomers

1. MONEY: Have I saved enough for retirement or will my money run out?

2. HEALTH AND WELLNESS: Who will be able to care for me if I get sick? Will I be able to afford healthcare? Will I become a caregiver for another?

3. CONNECTION: Will I grow old alone or will I have family, friends, and community to support me?


Other Top Concerns for Baby Boomers

1. Who am I now that I am retired?

2. What will I do with my newfound time and freedom?

3. Where will I live? What kind of lifestyle will I have?


Now, think back on the unopened boxes in your basement or storage facility (that you pay for)…


– What had you take too much stuff with you in the first place when you knew you were downsizing?


– Why was it so difficult to “let go” of your “stuff”?

  • Was it concern that you might need it “someday”
  • Was it guilt that you inherited it and you were disrespecting your loved one? (Grandma’s hope chest)
  • Was it fear of letting go of something you worked so hard for? (Your high school and college diploma)
  • Was it sentiment or memories of a special time? (even your kids report cards?!)



1. Use this list of habits, behaviors, self-limiting beliefs and emotions to help distinguish what you might want/ need to declutter/ downsize on the inside to help improve the quality of your life on the outside.  How might these impact the quality of your life?

A. Busyness: Has busyness become your mantra? Are you too busy “doing” that you don’t make time to enjoy the experience of being in the present moment?

B. Multi-tasking: Do you say “yes” to too many things in your life? Do you try to “do it all” even if you don’t want to?

C. Should’s/ Have-to’s: Do you allow the expectations of others to overshadow your own wants and needs? Do you allow others to exceed your own boundaries?

D. Procrastination: What do you consistently put off until tomorrow?

E. Naysayers: Do you have people in your life that consistently say you can’t, so you stop believing you can?

F. Perfectionism: If you can’t know the outcome will be perfect, do you even try?

G. Fear: How does fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection (others) stop you from having the live you want?

H. Destructive Habits: Overeating, overspending (others)… How do these prevent you from moving toward the life you really want?

I. Emotions: Anger, guilt, shame, resentment, lack of forgiveness (other)… How are these emotions holding you back?

J. Scarcity/ Mindset: How does “not enough”… time, money, resources, etc. stop you from going after what you really want?

K. Fixed Mindset: Do you find yourself saying, “I can’t, I won’t, I don’t want to”? Do you see how this prevents you from being open to new opportunities?

L. Being Stuck: What small steps can you take to get off stuck?


2. What do you want, need, and wish for in your life and why? And what do you want so badly it makes you cry (your WHY that makes you cry)

When I returned from Senegal, more than anything I wanted a simpler more meaningful life with less “stuff”. It became the “why” and inspiration for my downsizing journey. It was what drove me when the journey was difficult.


3. Take action. Without action nothing happens. What is one small step you could take today?

LET GO of what is stopping you!

The why that made her cry: My friend realized she needed to stop procrastinating, make a decision to move closer to her children/ grandchildren because she realized they would be in high school and college soon. She knew she was missing those years and would never be able to get that time back. This also allayed her concern about being alone as she aged.

Once you distinguish what you really want and why it matters so much to you and once you begin to deal with the emotional and mental clutter that has been in your way, you will realize the only thing stopping you from what you really want is YOU.

Once you discover your “why that makes your cry” you will likely be highly motivated to challenge/ disrupt/ let go of the inside so you can live like you really want.

Change is never easy. In fact, it’s confronting and requires you to step out of your comfort zone, to be vulnerable and to take risks. It all comes down to how badly you want something.


The real question is, what is it costing your to NOT change what is holding you back?


Ask yourself:
1. How would you rate your current retirement lifestyle?
5 = Very satisfied
1 = Unhappy, definitely want to improve

2. How committed are you to having your dream retirement (regardless of current resources)?
5 = Highly committed to change what needs to change
1 = I’m happy with the way things are and I’m not interested in making changes


Face it, as baby boomers we are going through a lot of change:

• Our bodies are changing – Unsettling but our reality
• We don’t feel old – But we’re certainly not getting younger
• We are more fabulous and free – Can do whatever we want
• We are experiencing an identity crisis – We were once career women, now we’re retired, who are we now that we’re retired?
• We are asking “what’s next” – And whatever that is we want it to be purposeful


Change is hard, but we all go through it. We resist.
Resistance stops us from letting go and making space for what’s next.
Resistance sabotages our aspirations
• We rationalize, make excuses
• We allow distractions to take us off course
• We let our inner critic take over. I’m not good enough, smart enough


Steven Covey: “Our unopened boxes are our brain’s version of our “to-do” list.

We all have “to-do” lists
We all need to “let go of lists” (where everything starts)

• Our unopened boxes are a metaphor for what needs to be dealt with in our lives
• A visual reminder of what’s left undone
• Reminder of decisions we failed to make before we moved
• Are out of sight so we don’t have to deal with
• Are not an eyesore because it’s not in my face
• They are unopened boxes because we didn’t make them a priority


We can change if we choose to take action
• Open the boxes (discover your mind clutter)
• Make a list of what you need to let go of/ deal with
• Let it go!
• Call it complete
• Set yourself free/ make room for what’s next




So as you look at your unopened boxes one more time, look back at the stress and overwhelm of moving all of those still unopened boxes. Consider how living a life with less “stuff” and a life with less mental and emotional clutter will contribute to a higher quality of life for you in your Third Act.

My TEDx talk: “Downsize Your Life: Why Less is More” is about my own journey to discovering how I could have a richer more abundant life with less. When I decluttered BOTH the physical clutter and also my mental/ emotional clutter. It allowed me to make room for what I really wanted… a simpler more meaningful life in my Third Act.



If you want more and if you interested in learning more about Designing the Life You Love, we have created several opportunities that I will take you on a much deeper journey into the process of decluttering the inside, and I will give you more design tools and actionable steps to design and live the life you really want… one that aligns with what matters most to you.


Design the Life You Love 1.0 | 3-Hour Workshop
Saturday, October 13th 11am – 2pm
Historic Philadelphia



Design the Life You love 2.0 | 2-Day Retreat
Friday, November 9th 9am – 5pm
Saturday, November 10th 9am – 5pm
Historic Philadelphia



Coming Soon!

My Book
“Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle: Secrets to More Time, Money, and Freedom

If you would like Rita to speak at any of your corporate events please contact us at
Rwilkins@DesignServicesLtd.com | 302-354-0972 | www.DesignServicesLtd.com


Just for fun… I opened one of my still unopened boxes. Here is what I found and here is what I discovered about what I needed to let go of:

1. 13 Unopened VHS takes on motivational speaking
2. Report cards from my 2 sons when teachers used to hand write the grades and made teacher comments
3. My son’s soccer shorts that still smelled!
4. Macaroni picture frame one of my sons made in preschool… the mice had gotten to it.
5. As set of keys for my car that I had been looking for!

What I discovered:

The unopened VHS takes on motivational speaking were visual reminders of what I wanted someday that at that point in my life had not yet been accomplished. The report cards, soccer shorts, and macaroni picture frame were visual reminders of my special moments that I was afraid of losing. The extra set of car keys… well that was just good luck that I finally found them!