Is it true that downsizing is a natural part of aging? If so, I’m in trouble.

My husband and I just moved into the house we designed, situated on five acres of rural property. It’s the largest space I’ve ever lived in. We chose to go bigger. I’ve felt quite fearless and completely terrified along the way.

So, what is the “right size” for this season of life? I’ve learned “It depends.”

 
 

Downsizing or Upsizing, Your Surroundings Reflect Your Inner Life

It’s certainly been an inside-out job.

While I do believe that less is more, I also know that your surroundings are a snapshot of your inner self, a portrait of the inner work you’ve done and have yet to do. My inner life had been expanding rapidly. I’d become devoted to self-development, forging a post-retirement work path, deepening my relationships.

I wasn’t surprised that an expanded living space felt right.

Admittedly, there are a few prerequisites that made this choice easier. I called them Divine Green Lights: good health, a partner who’s in alignment with your thinking, an ability to do the upkeep, comfort with going against the grain while your friends move into the high-rise condos of their dreams.

And I learned that “living larger” requires other guidelines, too.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

Careful planning makes upsizing less daunting. You start with clarifying what you mean by “larger.” Is it an extra bedroom? A bigger garden? More closet space or a spot for a piano?

We spent eleven years planning and executing before the moving truck finally pulled up to our new front door. Cities have been built in less time. But it was critical that I first became crystal clear on my intentions for our new home and how I wanted life in it to feel.

For example, I saw twelve people sitting comfortably around a table in a room where they couldn’t see the kitchen (lovely though it is). A space where they could linger over a glass of wine and have lively conversations.

I envisioned guests who stopped by for the evening or who’d traveled a distance feeling equally welcome, with enough room for privacy or togetherness. Lately I’ve referred to these as “tribal gatherings.” Time will tell where that idea has come from.

Our Things Should Bring Us Joy

Belongings should lift us up, not weigh us down. I felt this way long before Marie Kondo asked us to fall in love with our socks.

Many treasures I’ve collected bring a smile, remind me of an adventure, call to mind a special conversation. And many make life a little easier – think electric wine opener.

I wanted to hold onto a lot of them.

But my husband and I pledged that if we weren’t going to be delighted when we unpacked something, it wasn’t coming with us. Admittedly, we each used a couple of “free passes” during the stress of the move. And we still got rid of about a third of what we owned.

I also promised myself I’d store things within easy reach. If I had to “dig” for them, or stand on a stool to reach them, they were out. I wanted our belongings to have space, too.

And I promised to use them. Now is the time we’ve been saving them for.

Rooms Have a Life of Their Own

Some friends have an entire floor of their home reserved for spiders and their cobwebs. People haven’t inhabited it in years. An expanded life doesn’t mean maintaining abandoned rooms. Ideally, each living space has a purpose.

If you love to cook, then that chef’s kitchen will get a workout. If you’re yearning to learn to paint, then you need at least a spare tabletop. If you delight in what you do in a space, you need that space.

I’m grateful every day that we’ve been able to bring the vision of our dream home into reality. It’s a blessing that all six of my lifetime pals can visit comfortably on the same weekend. Life gets shorter all the time.

And we have a spot for the piano.

How does your living space reflect your inner life? What spaces do you feel belong in your home? Do you feel drawn to upsize, downsize or stay right where you are? Join the conversation!

Marcia SmalleyMarcia Smalley is a certified life coach, writer and teacher. She delights in inspiring mid-life women to step confidently into their next act and loves helping them design a joyous, expanded life. Marcia firmly believes that you are not too old, and it’s not too late, to create the life you love. Please visit her website here.

Let's Have a Conversation!