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  • Writer's pictureCindy Murphy

Roadblocks. Speed Bumps. Detours.

This is a post I published in August 2022. Following the results of several recent consultations, I decided it was time to re-run this post in hopes of helping those struggling with making decisions about simplifying their life. Downsizing does not necessarily mean you are ready to move but does mean you are ready to eliminate the excess of life--thinning out the abundance of stuff and bringing order to your environment! If you live in the Greater Kansas City Area, we offer free one-hour consultations--simply call or text (816.358.6338), email (, or send a message through the Contact page of the website to schedule your appointment. We'll be happy to visit with you!

The path to living a simpler, less complicated life through downsizing may start out with the best intentions but can, without much warning, take a sudden and unexpected turn. Progress toward your goals can slow and even come to a screeching halt. The motivation you once had for accomplishing the tasks you'd listed on your downsizing plan simply goes by the wayside. What happened?

Photo: Jamie Street.

Listed below are some of the reasons that can cause a pause or a complete stop in progress.

  • Desire lacking; half-heartedness. Back-and-forth, hot-and-cold about intentions and outcomes.

  • Goals not clearly defined. No plan in place with specific tasks and dates assigned. No roadmap.

  • An overly aggressive time frame. Simply not enough time allowed to complete everything.

  • Taking on too much and not having a realistic view of tasks. Becoming overwhelmed.

  • Self-sabotage. Excuses for not staying on track.

  • Allowing outside forces to interfere and influence efforts and outcomes.

Choosing to make it happen.

As I've stated in past posts, if there is no real desire to succeed, there simply won't be downsizing success. Knowing what needs to be done, or should be done and doing it, are two different things. Finding an honest desire to move forward with an achievable plan is the first step.

No goals. No plan. No progress.

Clearly stating and setting goals then incorporating them into a downsizing plan is KEY. The first question: "Why are you downsizing?" Is it to eliminate the excess in your current living environment? Maybe it's to declutter and make your home easier to care for and navigate through. Or perhaps you've found a smaller, more manageable home and now have a tremendous need to pare down.

Once the reason for downsizing has been answered, it's time to define your goals in writing (get them out of your head and down on paper). Remember that goals must be specific, realistic, and attainable or discouragement and even defeat will creep in and derail everything. A downsizing plan is an important accountability and tracking tool that lists goals, tasks, and dates for completion of tasks or phases of the plan. Posting your plan where it can be seen and reviewed on a daily basis is also helpful. It's inevitable that things will pop up that interrupt your progress but don't let those interferences derail you; get back on track as soon as possible and keep moving forward. We also encourage our clients to celebrate after each major goal has been finished; it's something to be proud of!

Working through a narrow window of time.

Being "behind the eight ball" before you even get a downsizing plan in place is not a fun situation to be in. There are many reasons why this can happen, but from our professional experience the number one reason is the fast sale of a house. Closing dates can come quickly so to avoid the scramble, plan ahead and begin working on tasks like sorting and paring down and even packing items that will be moving with you. It's the 'ol leg-up advantage that will give you peace-of-mind when a contract is accepted.

The second most common enemy of time stealing is procrastination. If you know you're a procrastinator, it's all the more reason to allow extra time to complete your downsizing plan. Get creative by coming up with ways to beat this enemy--for example, do the tasks you absolutely dread first to get them behind you. Be patient with yourself, but not so patient that you get nothing done.

Overcoming being overwhelmed.

Not setting attainable goals can quickly overwhelm even the most determined downsizer. Tasks vary and so does the time to complete them. It's important to be realistic about the time for each (major) task. Know your capabilities--what you can and can't do. Your stamina is also important so assign time accordingly. Ask for help if you need it. If you become overwhelmed, take a break. Adding a little distance between you and your tasks can keep you from going bonkers and giving up.

If your emotions become too much it's time to stop, take a breath, and maybe talk to someone about what you're experiencing. You are feeling what you're feeling for a reason so don't ignore your emotions. We have held many hands throughout the years and know how overwhelming the downsizing process can be. Slow things down and take care of yourself.

Sabotaging the process.

This is a tough one to write about because a saboteur (we've worked with a few over the years) will disrupt their own progress repeatedly. Based on our experience, it can be very difficult to work with a client like this because they are extremely skilled at avoidance and excuse making. It is hard to make consistent progress.

Outside opinions that interfere.

Another tough situation, but a very real one. An interferer can insert themselves at different stages of the downsizing process and often cause stress. Typically, a loved one or close friend, this person has an opinion, and they will make it known to everyone. Handling these situations can be difficult but it's important to recognize what's happening and deal with the interference quickly. Opinions are fine if they are asked for.

In closing...

As always, we hope your downsizing experience will be a rewarding one--physically, mentally, and spiritually. Making a plan, allowing enough time to get everything done, asking for help if you need it, celebrating the "wins", and taking care of yourself are all elements of success. If you have questions or comments, or if you'd like to share your downsizing story, please connect with us through our CONTACT page on the website.

Our Consultations are free and last about an hour. They are particularly helpful if you're having trouble starting or making progress with the downsizing process.


If you are the marketing manager of a retirement community and would like to find out more about our downsizing seminars, please reach out for details. We'd love to come speak to your prospective new residents!

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