Whenever I talk about Kraft Transitions and our work helping people downsize and declutter, people joke “wow, could you make room in my garage for my car?” Well, yes, I can do that, but if your garage is anything like the garage of my youth, it will invariably fill up again.
If you want to have a permanent impact on your garage, the answer is quite simple: stop buying more stuff and let go of the things you don’t need.
Our culture encourages frequent and consistent acquisition and we are bombarded with messages that we need more, better, newer stuff. Purchase a nice home and fill it with nice things. As we get better jobs we are supposed to get better cars and bigger houses to make room for more stuff.
This consumer frenzy is a relatively modern invention. Our parents and grandparents managed to acquire a home and enough things without going bonkers. Quality crafted items were passed down to the next generation. Homes were paid for and people saved for a rainy day.
Those of us at the younger side of the Boom don’t have the same saving and spending habits. We want stuff when we want it and aren’t afraid of debt. We grew up straddling the growing crevice between the worlds of “save and repair it and don’t spend what you don’t have” and “buy a new one on credit.” Many of us jumped to the “buy now, be happy” side.
The trend towards downsizing and smaller houses may be an exhausted reaction to the consumer marathon we have been running. The trick is finding the balance between “I am giving away my worldly possessions and living in a house the size of a shed” and “Heh, let’s get another storage unit so we can clean out the garage (again).”
There is too much stuff in our homes for different reasons. We may have inherited from family. It may have gotten physically harder to discard what is no longer needed. If we are caregivers or have an illness the last thing we have time for is cleaning.
If you have the verve and vigor to shed those storage units, reduce your belongings, rent out a room for some extra income, or move to a smaller place, what are you waiting for? Wait too long and you may lose control of the process.
Waiting too long can also be deadly. One of the biggest unexpected health disasters is a broken hip caused by a fall, usually in our own homes. Very often the culprit is something we tripped over. If you fall and get hurt at home, can the fire department and EMTs get in and get you out? Minor injuries or illnesses could turn serious if help can’t reach you.
Those things we love and can’t bear to part with don’t actually love us back. If this is your situation, you are not alone. Reaching out for help doesn’t put you into a hospital or nursing home. Waiting for a disaster might. Is your stuff worth the potential loss of life and independence? Staying put requires staying safe.
Clear hallways, around doors and stairways, and the spaces you use regularly. Make sure you have plenty of lighting and non-slip steps with accessible handrails. Remove low standing furniture, especially if sharp edges are involved away from the beaten path; they can do more than cause a shin bruise. Be conscious of the whereabouts of your dog or cat. If like mine, and you are in the kitchen, they are likely underfoot.
2018 is the year to make a lifesaving shift in how you interact with your stuff. Kraft Transitions offers confidential and respectful services to help you regain control. 707.362.3223 firstname.lastname@example.org.