Rightsizing Your Life – Is it Time?

I first heard the terms in the early nineties, starting with downsizing. Companies were doing it so why couldn’t individuals, but to me it sounded a little too drastic. Then I happened upon the phrase, “rightsizing your life,” and that resonated, in large part because I realized that was what Ann and I were in the process of doing, as were many others in the “voluntary simplicity movement.”

So, what is it?  Well, here’s a few questions offered by RightsizingYourLife.com that will help to define rightsizing:

Have you ever felt owned by your possessions, or weighed down by your “stuff?” Does the idea of creating a clutter-free home or a simpler living environment sound appealing? Are you looking for a way to make your empty nest feel like a fresh space for a new chapter in life? Are you perhaps scaling back for a happier retirement? If so, Rightsizing Your Life® is for you.

So, how do you know when it’s time to rightsize your life?  Here are some of the “clinical signs” that suggest it’s time or even well past time:

Feeling overwhelmed by your life: You know the feeling. It feels like it doesn’t matter how fast you run or how much you do, you’re ‘to do’ list just keeps getting longer and longer. On top of it all, you’re enjoying your life less and less.  Sure sign it’s time to rightsize your life.

Your possessions own you rather than vice versa: Like Ciji Ware says in the above quote, you may have accumulated so much stuff that it all owns you or you feel weighed down by it. This is especially true in this day of so many modern, high-tech conveniences.  I mean, I love my ‘techy toys’…after all, I’m a man. I’m supposed to.  I’m typing on one of my favorite ones right now, while listening to music on my iTouch.  But here’s the thing. What happens when the high tech toys we’ve come to depend upon, break down or need maintenance?  It’s real easy to have our stuff take over our lives.

You keep putting off the things that really matter:  I see this a lot in my coaching clients who often come to me in various stages of overwhelm and/or burnout.  They have all these dreams they want to do someday — write a book, volunteer in the community, travel around the world, spend more time with their kids, etc.  And yet, they’ve been wanting to do these things someday for decades.  Meanwhile, their life is run by their lifestyle…the old “keeping up with the Jones’ mentality.”

If any of these signs hit close to home, keep reading.  There is a way out.

How to Start Rightsizing Your Life

Working in vs. Working on: Let’s start with a quick coaching distinction that can begin the process of rightsizing.  I call it “Working in your life vs. Working on your life.”  I borrowed and adapted it from E-Myth author and consultant, Michael Gerber. (You can read more about the distinction here.)  Basically, it means you need to find a balance where you’re not just living your life — ie, working in your life, or what often results in being over-run by your life, but you’re also devoting quality time and energy to working in your life.  That means you’ve time to dream, to plan, to imagine what could be the most satisfying and fulfilling life possible for you. To do this you need to:

Carve Out Quality Time: And I do mean “carve out” because if you’re simply waiting for the time to show up on your calendar for this all important ‘working on your life time,’ well, it’s never going to show up there.  You have to carve it out.  You have to make an appointment with yourself, and maybe with your loved ones, then keep that appointment. Before you finish with that first ‘working on’ time, you then need to set your next appointment.  This is called designing your life, rather than drifting through life (or riding the tsunami of your overwhelmed life).

Use the “Elephant Eating Principle”: We all know that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, and that’s also the ideal way to start rightsizing your life — in small, persistent bites.  Meet with yourself and your family to first get clear what’s working and what’s not working in your lives. Then create a plan for rightsizing it, and break that plan into small, digestible and manageable bite-size actions.  Support each other in moving forward, then meet again to assess your progress.

Follow the “Breadcrumbs of Your Passion:” I’m a big advocate of the power of passion and purpose to help steer our way to the life that we really want.  As I’ve often said, you may not be able to see exactly where the path of passion-filled breadcrumbs are leading you, but you won’t be disappointed with where you end up. This is closely related to the last point.

Let the Inner Work Lead You to the Outer Actions:  True transformation happens on the ‘inside’ with the inner work of being, thinking and feeling that includes getting in touch with your passions and what really matters to your life. That inner work will then lead you to the outer actions that create outer change, and this combination leads to overall results of a downsize life that is fun, flexible, freeing and fulfilling.

One Other Resource

How about a Digital Short on Kindle on how Ann and I, and others simplified their lives: Simple Living: A Digital Short on Living Simply in a Complex World

Now It’s Your Turn

Let me hear from you. What ‘nuggets of gold’ did you glean from this article? Do you have a success story you’d care to share about rightsizing your life that will inspire others to do the same? Share it here. How about some other resources that will help people rightsize their life. Maybe you have a question or comment. Go ahead…share it. I double dog dare you. <G>