One of the most common questions I get about my downsizing adventure is, “do you miss it?”
Usually IT refers to a specific item that comes up in a conversation, or sometimes IT is in reference to my “normal” house that I left behind. When I talk about the jeep wrangler I sold when I moved the guys ask, “don’t you miss it?” When I talk to co-workers about the townhouse in Colorado I rented out, they ask, “do you miss it?” And when I talk about all the books I gave away to the library in Colorado, the avid readers ask, “don’t you miss them?” I can honestly say the answer to all of these questions is “no, not really.”
Sure there are moments where I reflect on the things I owned and the space I had. I have good memories associated with some of those things, but more often when I think about everything I got rid of I feel relieved to have less. I have given away a lot of things, but I have gained more in return. More free time, more money and more opportunity for personal growth.
6 Weeks of Crazy
My journey to Tiny Living was somewhat abrupt. I had read about Tiny Houses and thought it might be cool to try some day, but I wasn’t convinced the timing was right…then I got offered a new job across the country. I decided it was a fantastic opportunity to reinvent myself and reinvent my life.
I made the move from my 1,800 square foot town house in Colorado to my Tiny House in Georgia in approximately 6 weeks. I sold almost seven thousand dollars worth of stuff, took countless loads of my belongings to Salvation Army and moved the things I thought I wanted across the country.
I made tough choices regarding every book, piece of clothing, kitchen gadget and toiletry item I owned. I was excited about the new adventure, but drained by the actual process of downsizing at times. It was 6 weeks of crazy.
The more I read about the Tiny House movement and the more I read about people who have actually made the move, the more I realize my story is somewhat unorthodox. I made the transition much more abruptly than most.
The advantage of downsizing quickly is you don’t have time to agonize over decisions and things. You have to create a vision of what you want in your head and you have to follow through with it. Downsizing and moving in 6 weeks forced me to make tough decisions and kept me motivated. It’s hard to get bogged down when you don’t give yourself time.
This type of radical downsizing catches people’s attention. They wonder what makes someone change their lifestyle so dramatically. They can’t imagine what their life would look like if they tried the same thing, and they are genuinely curious about what it’s like to get rid of 80% of what you own.
Do You Miss It?
When people ask me the question, “do you miss it?” I know exactly what prompts it. The inability to comprehend how life can be more enjoyable, more full and more rewarding with less stuff. And all I can say, is I understand their curiosity. There was a moment as I was selling everything I owned where I wondered the same thing.
And there was a moment after I had unloaded almost everything I owned that I had a minor panic attack. And by minor I mean relatively spectacular. I remember sitting on my bed in my bedroom looking around at the almost empty closet and my stacks of things boxed for the move and bagged for Salvation Army and I thought to myself, “what am I doing?”
What if I was making a mistake? What if I wanted another jeep wrangler? What if I missed my 75 gallon salt water aquarium? What if, what if, what if…It was terrifying. But then I took a deep breath and remembered what I was trying to accomplish.
Change in Priorities
What changed for me the most during my downsizing adventure were my priorities. I decided I wanted more freedom and more simplicity so I could pursue things in my life that were meaningful to me. I wanted to get off the earn to spend treadmill I was on, and I wanted to slow down enough to spend time with the people I cared about. I wanted time to pursue hobbies and spend more time outside. I wanted to travel more and worry less about all of my bills and responsibilities.
I was able to make the transition, and more importantly be happy living with the change I made, because I had taken the time to decide what I really wanted. I knew what my goals were and I was able to ease the fear of the unknown by focusing on what I wanted to accomplish.
My moment of panic was replaced by a feeling of excitement and peace.
I know it’s a little melodramatic to say downsizing gave me a new life. But in many ways it did. It gave me a new appreciation of what I own. It helped me realize how much I had acquired because I thought I should or because I thought things would make me happy. It’s allowed me to get outside and it has given me enough free time and breathing room to pursue a passion I never knew I had, blogging and writing.
Did it really take a Tiny House to accomplish these things? Probably not. I probably could have come to the same conclusions in my larger home with all of my stuff, but I don’t think I would have. I think I would have continued to buy the things I thought I wanted to make my house feel like a home. I would have continued to consume at the same rate as I always had, and I wouldn’t have taken the time to think about how else I could be living my life.
Take Time to Reflect
I don’t think Tiny Houses are the right answer for everyone. But I am convinced that Tiny Living can teach you a lot about yourself and about what’s important to you. I encourage you to take the time to decide what your dream life looks like. What things are holding you back? Is it debt, is it stuff, is it the time it takes to keep up with your home?
Make small adjustments in the space you have. Learn to appreciate the things you own. Take time to slow down and enjoy day to day life a little more. You don’t have to Live Small to Dream Big, but it helps.