Evolution of Downsizing: From Layoffs to Decluttering

Over the last few years, the term “downsizing” has become increasingly common. Let’s delve into its origins. Initially coined in 1975 during mass layoffs in the auto industry, downsizing was initially seen as offensive. However, in 1986, it was revitalized as a term associated with moving to smaller residences or decluttering, now with a positive connotation.

Marie Kondo, a renowned expert on residential downsizing, became both famous and wealthy through her unique approach. Interestingly, Kondo drew inspiration from her experience as a Shinto temple maiden (miko), tapping into centuries-old rituals and infusing them with a joy-inspired purging philosophy. To explore her methods, consider reading one of her books on the Konmari Technique of organizing and purging. While Kondo’s standards were initially stringent, she has since recognized the need to adapt her approach with three children, allowing some clutter in her life.

Downsizing Your Home and Navigating Life Transitions

The subject of downsizing is much bigger than just decluttering your life. Let’s start with the older generation. A large percentage of North Americans are in one of the older age cohorts. Our aging demographic is looking to get rid of “stuff”. These are things we don’t value or things we don’t wish to leave to our kids to deal with after we are gone. Many of us have found ourselves in the position of having to let go of items we have loved and lived with. It can be an emotional and overwhelming process.

There are several situations where downsizing is required. Which one fits your or a family member’s situation? The classic downsize of empty nesters looking to move into a smaller home is perhaps what first comes to mind when you hear the term. It can also involve an aging parent moving in with a child, a change in family circumstances due to death or divorce, illness or incapacity, or simply a desire to simplify your life. These are all stressful situations. Each of these situations requires decluttering, downsizing your home, or just letting go of things in your possessions. Marie Kondo has a common sense approach. Keep those things that spark joy or are important to you and remove the rest. 

Planning, Sudden Changes, and Making Hard Decisions

Downsizing can be reasonably easy if the situation allows, and you are a good planner. Or you are at least a pragmatist. It is not easy when life gets in the way of a sudden illness or death or divorce. Then you or a responsible family member has to act fast and make hard decisions in a short time frame. For the person in charge, ask yourself what is important or what brings true pleasure. It is often surprising, how much we own, that in truth, we could easily do without. Perhaps that set of Grandma’s china that can’t go in the dishwasher, and is rarely used, is something we don’t need to have in our lives.

A misconception that we often see in the downsizing business is that hanging on to the belongings of loved ones is equated with remembering them. A single teacup that you drink from can be as effective (sometimes more so) in remembering a loved one than that entire set of china stored in the basement.

Assessing Value

Knowing the value of your possessions is crucial during downsizing. Setting sentimentality aside, it’s important to question why we hold onto less valuable items. Seeking expert assistance can help determine the worth of your belongings, although conducting your research or enlisting external help is also viable. Surprisingly, seeking guidance before embarking on the downsizing process is often the best course of action.

Downsizing encompasses a vast array of forms and facets, with each situation presenting unique challenges, timelines, and requirements for a successful outcome. Whether it involves substantial contents or minimal possessions, items of little or great value, or the involvement of other family members, each scenario is distinct. Legal matters such as divorce settlements or estate settlements might require attention. In short, successful downsizing depends on addressing the specific challenges, processes, and requirements associated with each situation.

Discover How Visbids Can Help with Your Downsizing Journey

At Visbids, each of our partners has over thirty years of experience dealing with downsizing in all its facets. We have learned the importance of not only knowing how to efficiently carry out the job but also how to listen and cater to the human side of downsizing. As a small company, we understand that a one-size-fits-all approach does not suit everyone’s needs. Our philosophy revolves around individualized solutions.

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog, where we will discuss how and where Visbids can assist in your downsizing journey.

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