Face it. The thought of downsizing, decluttering, and starting over in your 60s can be downright scary and overwhelming. Not knowing is one of the hardest parts.

  • What kind of lifestyle do I want?
  • Where will I live?
  • How do I start the process of downsizing and decluttering?
  • How can I possibly let go of the house my kids grew up in and all of our stuff?
  • How do I deal with the emotions associated with downsizing and decluttering?

These are just a few of the questions you might have at this stage of life.

  • Your kids are grown and have left your home.
  • You are facing retirement and want to know what to do next.
  • You are newly widowed or divorced and having to face these decisions alone.
  • You’re starting to see and feel the impact of aging.
  • You realize that your life is in transition and you probably need to downsize and declutter.

Living a simpler life with less stuff and less stress, having more time, freedom, and energy is certainly appealing!

You’ve worked hard, you’re successful, you deserve to live your best life no.

But you’re filled with mixed emotions.

On one hand, you know what is practical and what you should do.

  • Downsize to a smaller, more manageable home, or renovate your existing home to age in place.
  • Declutter, pare down your excess possessions. Let go of what you’ve been holding onto so you can lighten your load, travel lighter in your third act, and prevent your kids from having to deal with your stuff when you’re gone.

But on the other hand…

  • Decluttering, sorting through years of accumulation of stuff is not only a daunting task, but it’s emotionally draining and you are afraid that you will lose all of those precious memories

Bottom line: you’re afraid. You’re afraid of change and afraid of the unknown.

What will it take to make the mental shift from the short-term pain of downsizing and decluttering to the long-term gain of living a richer more abundant life with less stuff and less stress?

The Downsizing Designer’s Process for Navigating the Emotions of Downsizing, Decluttering, and Starting Over in Your 60s

1.   Think positive

When you change how you look at things, the way you look at things will change.

Focus on the positive aspects of downsizing, decluttering, and starting over in your 60s.

  • A simpler life with less stuff.
  • More time, money, freedom, and energy to pursue what matters most to you at this stage of life.
  • More manageable space that is more suitable to your age.

Reframe your thinking from “It’s too hard,” “I can’t,” or “I’m afraid” to an optimistic mindset about the exciting new life and experiences ahead of you.

The benefits of downsizing and decluttering in your next chapter far outweigh the overwhelm you might be experiencing right now.

2.   Why you want to or need to downsize, declutter, and start over

Everyone has their own reasons and unique circumstances that caused them to consider downsizing, decluttering and getting a fresh start.

Knowing WHY will not only help you move forward with more vigor and commitment, but it will also help you stay motivated when you want to quit.

Possible WHYS

  • Financial

Downsizing and decluttering can save you money with your possessions and smaller space, it is likely your living expenses will be less.

(maintenance, utilities, insurance, taxes, etc.)

  • Be close to family

As we age, being close to family can enhance our overall well-being and happiness. It’s a time to celebrate family experiences together. Enjoy your grandchildren, it’s also a time to lean on them for assistance when you need each other.

  • New lifestyle

When you finally have more time, freedom, energy, and money, you will have an opportunity to design and live your best life for who you want to be right now.

  • Fresh start

New beginnings are just that… an opportunity for you to begin again after divorce, loss of a loved one, retirement, job, loss, etc. It’s time to create the life you want now, regardless of what has happened and what your circumstances are.

  • Health, well-being, happiness

Decluttering and downsizing are certainly cathartic. It’s a chance to travel light, create more space for a new healthy, happier lifestyle.

3.   Create your own vision for what’s next

  • What do you want, don’t you want right now at this stage of your life?
  • Where do you want to live?
  • What type of lifestyle do you want?
  • What do you want to be doing, with whom?
  • What do you need and what you need as you move into this next phase

This new vision should reflect what’s most important at this stage of your life right now and being crystal clear about this vision will help you make future decisions.

As life changes, so must we.

4.   Set goals based on your new vision

Start with the end in mind.


  • What will you be doing on an average day with whom?
  • What vacations do you want to be taking, where, with whom?
  • Where will you be living? 55+ community, condo in the city? Beach House?

When you look forward, you imagine yourself already living the life that you envision.

5.   Action plan and timeline to accomplish your new goals.

Without action nothing happens.

When you know why you want to downsize, declutter and start over, when you have a vision and goals, acting on, these create momentum. It’s exciting, and invigorating because you see progress. You realize a new life is possible.


Remember, downsizing is not downgrading.

In fact, when you live small, you can have it all… an easier lifestyle with a simpler, more manageable, and more meaningful life. It is attainable.

Create your own “to-do list” i.e.,m establish a budget, research where you want to live for the lifestyle that you want, visit these areas, talk to people who have already downsized, decluttered and are living that life.


Decluttering, paring down years of accumulated items you no longer want, need, or use is cathartic. There are many reasons to declutter at this stage of life, not the least of which is to not leave it all up to your kids to do after you’re gone. 

Choose to start decluttering now.

Decluttering takes time. It could take anywhere between 3 to 6 months, even a year, depending on how much stuff you have.

To alleviate some of the emotions of decluttering remember, you don’t have to give it all away… Just the stuff you no longer need or use. Only the things that you love and that you know you will use.

Another way to stay motivated is to gather a helpmate or a team of people who will help you throughout the process in good times and bad.

To relieve emotions of decluttering focus on giving back by donating those things to people who need them or want them.

Starting over your 60s:

Allow yourself to embrace change, regardless of your circumstances.

(divorce, death of spouse, retirement, job, loss, empty nest, aging)

Let go of the past, so you can create a happier life in this next chapter.

Focus on your vision and goals.

You might be scared, but reframe it as a “good scared,” exciting, and an opportunity to change.

6.   Gather your team

Surround yourself, with people who will support you, encourage you, be your cheerleaders, especially when the going gets tough. Celebrate your wins, big or small.

7.   Track and measure progress regularly

When you are in the messy middle of decluttering, it is sometimes hard to see the forest through the trees.

Just stay motivated and not get discouraged, take before and after pictures

Revisit your vision, goals, timeline, and action plan.

Decide to decide.

Don’t let indecision or decision fatigue hold you back.

8.   Have an attitude of gratitude

Celebrate how far you’ve come, the new life that you are growing into.

9.   Share your story with others

You never know just how much your story might benefit someone who is starting the process of downsizing, decluttering, and starting over.

Or those might be in the “messy middle” or are stuck and discouraged.

You could make a difference for them.

Please share your story with others, and with me if you wish. I will share it with my large audience on social media to reach as many people as possible.

You can email it to me at ritawilkins@ritawilkins.com  

May God bless you on your journey!

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Do you want to learn more about downsizing and decluttering? You can also connect with me by following me on Facebook and LinkedIn. Would you like complimentary advice from the downsizing designer? My book Downsize Your Life, Upgrade Your Lifestyle: Secrets to More Time, Money, and Freedom is now available in paperbackaudio, and on Kindle! Get your copy soon.