By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer
For those of you who follow me on social media, listened to my Ted talk, or read my book, Downsize Your Life Upgrade Your Lifestyle: Secrets to More Time Money and Freedom, you know how much I love speaking about and writing about the impact of living with less because the decision to downsize from my very large home to my tiny apartment changed my life.
For those of you who don’t know me and are new friends or followers who don’t know my story, here’s a brief summary.
It was a trip to a third-world country to visit my son who was serving in the Peace Corps at the time that changed my life.
For the first time in my life, I experienced villagers who had so little yet they were happy! When I returned home to my 5000 square-foot designer home all I could think about was… how much I wanted that simple joy-filled life that I experienced in Senegal.
I kept asking myself, how could they have so little, yet so happy? All I knew was that… I too wanted a simple peaceful life with less.
Upon returning from my trip, I walked into my beautiful home filled with designer furniture and accessories. Suddenly none of it look the same to me. It meant nothing to me anymore. If anything, it represented the excess in my life and that excess was a burden that was getting in the way of me having a simple, less cluttered, less stressful life.
When I decided to downsize from my very large home to a tiny apartment in historic Philadelphia, I went from 5,000 ft. to 867 ft. and gave away 95% of my possessions to people who needed or wanted them… and frankly, I’ve never been happier!
When I decided to downsize
I knew there would be obvious benefits of living in a smaller space with less, such as:
1. Financial benefits
Fewer expenses and lower overhead. No more big house, big mortgage, or big tax bill.
2. Less spending, more savings
Since I didn’t need anything, I stopped buying… and I didn’t have room for anything anyway!
3. Less maintenance
In a smaller home, there would be less to maintain, clean, organize, and manage.
4. More time
The gift of more time for family, friends, travel, as well as personal and professional development.
5. More freedom
Without the burden of a big house and too much stuff, I was free to pursue more of what I wanted, including working less and playing more.
But what I did not anticipate…
3 Unexpected Emotional Benefits of Downsizing and Decluttering
These are just a few of the unexpected emotional benefits I experienced on my Downsizing journey and that I continue to benefit from today.
1. A sense of peace, calm, freedom, and ease
There was a tremendous relief from the burden of a big house with too much stuff, much of which I never used anyway.
I experienced relief from being weighed down by stuff and by a never-ending “to-do list” that never seems to get done.
Before I downsized, I was always frustrated and constantly overwhelmed because I never had time for myself.
Now, with less, there’s a true sense of calm, peace, freedom, and ease.
2. An ability to clearly focus, be more creative, and more productive
With fewer distractions and less stuff, I had a new sense of control over my own life that allowed me to concentrate and focus more intently.
With less, there’s virtually no overwhelm and there’s even
time to do nothing!
3. A sense of pride and empowerment in my accomplishment
My downsizing journey empowered me and gave me great confidence that if I could downsize that large home and live on just 5% of what I once owned, I feel like I can do anything!
Downsizing is a huge feat!
The act of letting go of years of accumulation, even the sentimental items that I became attached to was a huge accomplishment, especially when I thought I could never live without them.
After you downsize and declutter, there is also a new sense of excitement and opportunity for what’s next in your life.
With more time, money, freedom, and energy and with less stuff, and less stress, nothing can stop you from designing and living the life you really want.
When you have fewer “have to’s” and replace them with more “want to’s”, you begin to experience a much higher quality of life.
- You are in control, not the big house and all of the stuff inside it.
- You get to control what you want and don’t want, and what you let back into your house… or not.
When you free yourself from all of that excess accumulation…
When you surround yourself with only what you want, need, and use…
- Your life is so much simpler because you trade stuff for fewer chores, more experiences, and a lot more fun!
When you downsize your life, you upgrade your lifestyle. The downsizing journey is not easy, but it is life changing.
Perhaps the greatest emotional benefit I gained from my own downsizing
journey is that, I realized that I not only HAVE enough, I AM enough!
~ Rita Wilkins, The Downsizing Designer