And here's why you should it, too.
At what point did our lives become unrecognizable?
For me, the turning point was a harmless decision to buy a bigger home — a choice that set off a series of bad decisions and created a habit of spending money.
And if you asked me if I was happier after acquiring the super great house and all the stuff, I’d say "No!"
I’d tell you about my never ending to-do list and how I used to wakeup throughout the night thinking about things that I had forgotten to do the day before. And, I’d admit that I relied too heavily on my favorite red wine to help me get through the evenings.
See, what I didn’t understand when we made the choice to super-size, is that life speeds up the more that you add to it. You just get more things to manage plus you must more work to pay for it all. And all of that more equals less time to actually live your own life.
I can remember times I'd arrive home from work, totally exhausted, and I could hear my kids fighting in the house before I even opened the door. Those nights I wanted to just collapse into fetal position and cry myself to sleep.
But, I couldn’t stop. There was still dinner to prepare, homework to complete, and my McMansion to clean.
And then — my "A-ha" moment hit.
One night I asked my husband the million dollar question, "Why aren’t we happy?"
He looked me and said, "Because we’re doing life wrong."
He was correct. After we bought the house, we turned into everything we despised. We worked long hours, we became snippy with our kids, and we felt more like roommates than a couple in-love.
The life we worked so hard to create had mutated into a nightmare we felt we couldn’t escape.
So what did we do? We gave that monster nightmare the middle finger and came up with an exit strategy.
Here are the five steps we used to create your own escape plan:
1. We defined what a "better life" would truly look like.
Be specific. For us, we needed a house that we could deep clean in 50-minutes or less, allowing us more face time with each other and our kids.
2. We mapped out a concrete plan to achieve our goal.
Yep, we had to downsize our living space and the amount of stuff we’d acquired, as well as trim down the social commitments. We mapped out each area of our lives where we need to trim down to make sure we didn't overlook anything.
3. We put the steps in a logical order for completion.
I could immediately clean out the clutter and start saying "no" to more extra curricular activities. But finding the right house would take some time.
4. We kept our word to each other and fully executed our plan.
As a team, we started clicking off those tasks one by one. It's easy to complain about where you are. It's easy to dream about escaping from it. But it's only consistent action that changes your circumstances.
5. We showed each other (and ourselves) mercy.
For me, it was easy clearing out the clutter, but what I didn’t expect was how hard I found it to not bring more stuff in. I was so used to ordering whatever I needed or wanted that it took conscious effort and some painful with-drawls to kick my Amazon habit.
Whatever your better life looks like, remember that you’re forcing a lot of change, and, as humans, we resist change with a vengeance. Keep the conversation open with your spouse so that you can show patience and support each other through the various adjustment periods.
Our "dream life" finally came true.
We've finally reached the other side of our conquest. It took us over two years to find the right small house, and it was worth the wait. We've been settled in for about a month now and I can’t begin to describe how incredible it feels.
We've already witnessed a huge change in our finances since we have less to pay for. Also, when I go shopping now, I'm very intentional about what I buy since our space is super limited.
In the end, we downsized our entire tangible world by more than 50 percent. Since we have less to manage, we don’t stress nearly as much, and we have so much more time to seize opportunities to live in the life we created ... together.
For more tips on how to downsize check out Jessica’s YouTube Channel, Super Living. Jessica is the author of Back 2 Love and How to Start a Mental Health Private Practice. She owns a private practice in New Prague, Minnesota where she lives with her husband, two kids, and two dogs.