When it comes to downsizing to move or downsizing to live
comfortably in your present home, it can be tough to make decisions about what
to keep and what to let go. Some people become accidental hoarders just from
bringing things home from Senior Expos, all those goodie bags full of samples
and helpful information. When it is time to make decisions about getting rid of
stuff the brain fog creeps in.
Here are three mental toughness tools to use to strengthen
- Your commitment scale
- Your mantra “no shame – no blame”
- Your new ability to think like a ghost
Here’s how it works…you come across an item you know you should get rid of, let’s say an aged unfinished craft project. The commitment scale is adopted from the pain scale you see in doctors’ offices. On a scale of 1 to 10 how committed are you to finishing this project? Let’s say its been in a closet for several years. If you think it is a “10” then you are very committed to finishing it and will start immediately. If it is a “1” then you’ll have no problem sending it on its way. It’s that gray area between 1 and 10 where the decision making is difficult.
Perhaps the knowledge of how much you paid for it creates guilt for you at the thought of letting it go. This is where repeating “no shame- no blame” can lessen the trauma. Even if it was very expensive, that money has already been spent. It doesn’t put the money back into your pocket to hang on to it. You are a different person now than you were then and your interests have changed.
If this isn’t enough, then imagine yourself to be a ghostly observer as your belongings are sorted and removed by family members or hired clean-out specialists. How will they view this item? What will they do with it? At this time the decision is yours. Deal with it.
Eric is not feeling fond of his
father right now. Ike refused to deal with things when he was healthy, but now
he needs to be in an assisted care facility
and his assets need to be liquidated to pay for his care. In his prime,
Ike was sure he could do anything. His house is one he built by himself in the
1970’s. The problem is, he never quite finished it. He never quite finished a
lot of other projects as well. His yard reflects this. He lives on a back road
in a rural area so there is no home-owners’ association to hold him
accountable. So now his son, wanting to be kind, is faced with emptying a house
and out-buildings, doing what repairs seem feasible, and making the property
appeal to a potential buyer.
Ike never liked to make decisions but now that
his son is dealing with his property he wants to have a say about everything in
order to have a sense of control.
In order to get his father to deal with reality, Eric is asking him how likely he is to want particular items with him in his new living arrangements. Ike has a small apartment unit within a larger building so space is severely limited. He is likely to want some items from his home with him but now the time has come when he must really make decisions. Items from inside the home are more likely to fit into his apartment. These include furniture, clothing, personal care items, and sentimental items such a photos. Ike gets hung up on the things he can’t take. There are so many of them. The problem it brings up for him is the sense of regret and loss that he is not now and never will be the guy who could do everything and would get around to it all eventually.
Situations like this are cropping up all over Maine and other rural areas as the Baby Boomers of the back-to-the-land movement are advancing into old age and the generation that would never grow old has done exactly that.
Dear Aging Coach,
I have way too many books but I love everyone of them! They are like old friends to me, but soon I must move to a very small apartment in a Senior residence and space will be limited. How can I pare down my book collection when it is so hard to choose?
I heartily sympathize with you. I can’t imagine a life without books. I have pared down my book collections considerably using the following methods.
- I have used my imagination to think about which books I would take with me if I were to go on an adventure, living in a recreation vehicle for instance, or maybe live on a boat. Knowing that space would be tight, I would select maybe five books each on all of my favorite topics. For me this would be cookbooks and gardening books. I have actually done this without carrying through on it. I set out on a table my five “can’t live without” books and evaluated whether I could leave behind the many others that I did not select. Fortunately I did not have to carry out the selection and they went back on the shelves to join their companions, but it did help me to cull some of the books which I have since donated.
- I have instilled some self-discipline in the form of “one book in = one book out”. When I buy a new (or used) book I single out a book from my shelves to be discarded or donated. I’m apt to discard any paperback books that have deteriorated from age or the acidity of the paper they were printed on.
- I have switched to downloading e-books that I can read on my tablet or iPad. My aging eyes appreciate the ability to enlarge the font with just a touch command. This is better for me than large print books because the tablet is much lighter than a printed book.