There comes a moment when you pass the half-century mark that is hard to pinpoint or even predict, but you know intuitively when it has occurred. It’s a flash of recognition, an instant when you realize something important has changed and that it is time for a change. Your old life just doesn’t fit anymore.

As a practical matter, however, those poised on the brink of making a significant shift in lifestyle often have a daunting task facing them. People who have made the decision to sell the family home to embrace a new way of life in an active adult community must immediately begin to cull through a lifetime of possessions.

The good news is that with the proper approach and a few simple skills, solutions exist to every problem and a few “rightsizing” concepts can go a long way in guiding your decision-making about what to keep and what to toss.

Begin by asking yourself a few simple questions about each item or groups of items you’re trying to sort through:

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I use it now?
  • Is it beautiful?
  • Is it valuable?
  • Is it useful in and of itself?
  • Is it sentimental?

In my own experience moving out of a roomy house in Beverly Hills that we’d lived in for twenty-two years into 1275 square feet overlooking San Francisco Bay, a particular possession became a “keeper”only if I could answer “yes” to at least two of those questions.

If you’d like to test out this theory, pick a drawer in your house that’s packed with possessions of all sorts—say a catch-all kitchen drawer. Then try the following:

  • Look at your watch and note the time.
  • Dump the contents of the drawer on a flat surface, say the kitchen table.
  • On another close-by surface put sticky notes: KEEP;TRASH;GIVE-AWAY; RECYCLE;DONATE; and DON’T HAVE A CLUE
  • Gather like-with-like in piles: all the screwdrivers; matchboxes; rubber bands; take-out menus, etc. placed in separate piles.
  • Of each item or groups of items, ask the questions listed above.
  • Discard the obviously useless junk in a trash bag.
  • Put only the solid “keepers” back in the drawer in an orderly, logical fashion, grouping like-with-like—i.e. all the matchboxes together.
  • Put what’s left in the appropriate piles with the sticky notes; then into shopping bags which you immediately remove to the car to give away, recycle, or donate,
  • Note the time

For the DON’T HAVE A CLUE PILE, put the contents in another shopping bag until you come up with a solution for the “puzzlers”—decisions that usually seem clear in just a day or two. The entire process of “rightsizing” that drawer probably took no longer than half an hour, but the little thrill of pleasure you’ll get each time you open that drawer is just a hint of the wonderful feeling of liberation you’ll enjoy when you rightsize your life and free yourself from possessions that may have been weighing you down far too long.

I promise you: a new and delicious kind of emancipation is just around the corner!

For information on active adult lifestyles, visit ActiveAdultLiving.com and take a look at their newsletter.


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