“What do I want to do with my life?” That’s an overwhelming question for a woman in her 60 and beyond. When I think of asking myself that question, all kinds of thoughts pop up: How do I know? If I don’t know, who knows? If I knew that, I’d be doing it. It’s too big to even think about.

Along with those thoughts, I get bombarded by a smattering of things that someone else – fate or the universe or whoever – needs to start doing or give to me so I could fulfill some of my life goals. Examples might be: I want to have more money. Or I want to live with a wonderful partner.

Tangible things like those mentioned above may require us to take some specific action. Most often than not, however, we just want certain things to happen in our lives, we just want the outcome – and we want it now or at least pretty soon.

Change Begins Inside

Most women in their 60s know, however, that real change is an inside job that takes working on yourself first before beginning any specific action.

If I don’t start there, whatever action I do take will likely result in my spinning my wheels and getting nowhere – or getting to a place I didn’t intend. Perhaps asking “What do I want to do with my life?” is too big and broad a question.

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, a thought that was very scary to contemplate. You can read all about my emotional journey in my book, The Upside of Downsizing: Getting to Enough.

At one point, a friend asked me if there were anything good about the move, and I quickly replied “NO!” She gave me a patient yet skeptical look, and I decided to at least think about her question.

So I did, and I realized that though I did love my big house and yard, I was no longer comfortable with the amount of time, money, and energy I was putting into them.

The inner me was begging for more quiet time in which I could just be: be with me, be with my cat, just BE without having to be doing all the time. I wasn’t sure what that really meant, but I realized I wanted a softer life with not quite so much noise.

I also realized that it would be wonderful if getting ready to leave for a trip were easier. I love to travel, but getting a big house and yard ready for me to be gone for a while was a real pain! I dreamed of the time I could schedule the cat sitter, lock the door, and leave!

How Will I Know When I Have Enough?

The biggest “Aha!” moment, however, came when I recognized that I had a unique opportunity to discover what it would mean for me to live with enough.

For many years, I’ve worked on a special project called the Sign of Enough, designed to help us answer the question,

“How will I know when I have enough?”

It has taken on increasing importance to me in the last several years as the world-wide economic inequality has grown larger and larger, showing no signs of slowing down; and as our overconsumption adds to the increasing destruction of our environment.

And as more and more families are desperately struggling to get by, even with at least one of the adults holding down two or three jobs just to try to make ends meet.

I realized I could finally practice my passion and discover for myself what living with just enough would mean for me.

So, instead of trying to answer big questions like what you want to do with your life, open with something like this:

“How do I want to live next?”

And then look to see if any of those ways become more possible by downsizing. If so, I think you’ll find that the process may be just a bit easier if you keep your eye on that important inner goal.

I’d love to hear what you discover or what you have discovered about working with your inner self if you’ve gone through downsizing.

What do you discover when you ask yourself the question, “How do I want to live next?” To the extent you can, describe important aspects of what that would look like. What are some, even if very small, first steps you could take that would move you in that direction? Let’s have a discussion in the comments below.

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