“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

My experience shows that a major downsizing of your home can seem like an even bigger undertaking than a thousand-mile trip. Give me a choice, and I’ll take the trip!

A Major Downsizing

Last year, I was faced with moving from my 2000-square foot home with a big two-car garage and a very large yard to an 800-square foot apartment with a 46’x46” cage in the basement for storage. Among other things, this meant getting rid of about 80-90% of what I owned.

Is this a possibility in your future? If so, you’re not alone in feeling the fears and overwhelm such a prospect can bring. You can read all about my emotional journey in my book, The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough.

If, for the moment at least, we decide to trust in the wisdom that has endured since somewhere between the fourth and sixth centuries BCE, then how can we begin a major downsizing of our home with a few single, perhaps small, steps?

My Starting Point

I chose to do the kitchen first because, since I am not much of a cook, getting rid of things in the kitchen was going to be fairly easy for me. I had no ‘emotional relationship’ with any specific pan or utensil.

Having said that, one of the two things I have missed in the last year since my downsizing was my apple corer – when it came time to make apple sauce!

For me, a more difficult beginning would have been to start with my books because they are very important to me.

So, I began in the kitchen. At the end of a long day, I had been through the entire kitchen and had a mound of stuff in the dining room waiting for the garage sale or the donation pile.

Small Step #1 – the Easy Room

Your small step #1 might be to start with the room or area or closet that would be easiest for you to look through and eliminate most of its contents.

If possible, it’s best to take everything out of whatever you’re focusing on at the moment, e.g., a drawer, and then put back only those very few items that you need to keep.

NEED to keep.

Not “oh, this might be useful sometime” kind of keep. If this sounds draconian, it won’t feel that way if you start with something that is not so important to you.

Move On Slowly

When you get done with the area where you started, don’t immediately move on to another one. I didn’t attempt tackling another room for several days after finishing in the kitchen.

Live with what you’ve accomplished. Internalize the feeling that you acquire from getting rid of stuff you don’t need. Revel in the empty or open spaces that you didn’t have before. How does that feel? Imagine the feeling when your whole house is like that!

For many of us, what it takes to really get going with a major downsizing is to have some early ‘wins’. For me, to have wide open, empty kitchen counters was so gratifying! It felt absolutely wonderful. It felt as if I could breathe and stretch. It felt peaceful and free.

When those feelings blossom inside of you, the next single step you want to take will seem easier. You’ll find that “getting to enough” is at least as addictive as acquiring more and more and more.

No matter how we get started, downsizing your home can be challenging, or even painful, so consider providing yourself with some extra support.

Ask a non-judgmental friend to help you by sitting with you and asking you where you might most easily be able to start. Or consider hiring a coach like myself to help you.

How did you get started with your downsizing project? How did it feel to see those empty drawers and counters? If you are just now starting to contemplate such a process, what is the first, single, small step you can take? Please share in the comments below and let’s chat about it.

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