Is this the year you’re making a move? Or moving your parents or a family member? Downsizing can be a challenge, especially emotionally, and it’s never too early to begin. A lifetime of living means a lifetime of accumulating objects. While to some it may seem like “stuff,” to others it represents a lifetime of memories. Matt Paxton, host of the television shows, “Hoarders” and “Legacy List,” is the author of the book, “Keep the Memories, Lose the Stuff.” He has several tips to make the process of transitioning easier.
1. Create a Finish Line
Where are you moving to? Before you begin going through your things, the first step is to identify your next location. Knowing what your new environment will be like will inform what you take with you. How much space will you have, what will your consistent activities be in your new home?
2. Know Your Why
Next, why are you moving? Is it for health reasons? To be closer to family? To spend less time maintaining a large home? Paxton suggests writing your reasons down and posting them where you can see them. Going through your things and letting go of items can be an emotional process as you relive old memories. Remembering why you’re making the change and focusing on the positives it will bring can help you stay motivated to move forward.
3. Pick Your Legacy Items
Not everything needs to go. What are the five or six most valuable things currently in your home? Not necessarily financially valuable, but rather those items that tell the story of your life, of your family, and your relatives that came before you. Paxton says determining these first and knowing you are honoring these people, and these stories, will help you let the other less important items go.
4. Document Other Stories
We all have more stories than items we can or want to keep. And it’s the stories that they represent that really matter the most to our loved ones. With updated technology we can now preserve the stories digitally and let the objects go, by taking photos of items and documenting the stories through apps such as Artifcts. Once you have a digital record of an item and the story it represents, it’s very easy to share with family members and friends.
“When you really get used to telling the stories and you celebrate the past, you find yourself letting go of a lot more,” Paxton said. “You now just want that joy to go on to someone else that'll really appreciate it. Then you still have all of the stories online. You can share them with anybody.”
5. Upsize what you don’t want or need
Collect items you no longer need or want that are in good condition and donate them to a local non-profit where they will be appreciated by someone else. Even outdated items like china can be repurposed – broken into pieces by an art studio and used to create mosaics.
It’s a process to go through a lifetime of items and memories. Start now with small steps and give yourself the time and support to make the experience as painless as possible. When you’re ready to make your move, your Caring Transitions team is here to help.
You can listen to Paxton’s entire interview with our friends from Growing Bolder here.