Downsizing: 3 questions that will help you stay on track for a better life


You might not think about values when you first decide to declutter. Downsizing, after all, is a physical activity, not a mental one.

The road to minimalism started that way for me. Downsizing came as a financial decision rather than a values-based one.

I soon learned, however, that deciding what to keep and give away helped me get clear on what mattered to me.

Owning fewer things creates literal space for you to figure out who you are and what you want.

A more streamlined environment translates into better focus. And that helps you determine your values and create a life built around them.

A more streamlined environment translates into better focus. And that helps you determine your values and create a life built around them. Click To Tweet

In this way, downsizing is a lifestyle choice, not something you do once to your home and never address again.

Here are three questions to ask yourself when downsizing. These will help you align with your values and keep you intentional about living with less.

1. Does my living space reflect who I am?

When you look around do you think, “yes, this is who I am and I’m proud to call this my space”?

Or, are you like my friend whose home is scattered with ceramic pigs she never wanted or asked for?

When you’re sitting in your living area, do you look around and breathe easy? Do your things serve a purpose or do you wonder why you bought them?

Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

William Morris

One mind trick we play on ourselves is the sunk cost fallacy. You think since you paid for something you’re obligated to keep it.

But the mental cost of holding on to things that misalign with your values is greater than any financial one.

And, you’re not getting that money back whether the thing goes or stays. So, why not get rid of it?

2. Am I doing more of what I want or don’t want?

We know by now that downsizing is about more than physical clutter. It impacts all areas of our lives including how we fill our schedules and the people we spend time with.

Are you spending more time doing what you want or what you don’t want?

Maybe your calendar is filled with obligations that leave you feeling unfulfilled. Activities that bring you no joy.

Or you’re spending too much time with people who drain you. Pruning toxic people from your life will have a huge positive impact on your physical and mental health.

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3. Do I value things or people?

You love your friends and your family. That’s why you have so much stuff in the first place.

You bought it for your kids or someone gave it to you (and you don’t want to hurt them by throwing it out).

When you set boundaries with people around gift giving, you’re helping them understand your expectations.

Though they may not like it, you’re demonstrating that you care more about them than what they give you.

Instead of exchanging material gifts, you might suggest spending time together. Sharing conversation over a meal provides a bonding experience no material thing ever can.

And if someone digs in their heels and refuses to adapt, that gives you needed information.

Now you get to decide how much space this person will take up in your life. That’s when clearing the internal clutter begins.

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  1. Great approach, I never thought about it this way. Thanks for sharing. I found you on Problogger and stopped by to say hi. Good luck with your blog!

    • admin

      Glad to hear you found me via Problogger. I’m enjoying his 31 DBBB series. I did it many years ago when it was an ebook; interesting to see how it’s evolved. Thanks for stopping by.