Downsizing Your House for Retirement

Downsizing Your House for Retirement

Main Image for Chapter 2 Coaching Downsizing for Retirement page

The Places You’ll Go When You Finally Let Go

Several years ago, I had a client who decided that it was time to retire and downsize. It was a huge decision and once made, the house was put on the market and sold very quickly. She hadn’t anticipated the flood of emotions. She was very connected to her home; she had changed and personalized every corner of her home and she had raised her family there. Even though her neighborhood had already transitioned to newer, younger families, she still had very deep connections to the community and knew she probably would not be able to afford staying in her town, even in a smaller home, upon retirement. The reality of what she had set into motion, and the ensuing emotions of anxiety and depression, blindsided her and she quickly began second-guessing her decision. Our work together was to help her stay clear, motivated and dedicated to achieving her retirement goals while helping her grieve and let go of her home. She made the transition and she is flourishing in her new adventures.

My Own Downsizing Experience

I find myself thinking about her often as I now prepare to sell my home and downsize myself. Often as a coach and psychotherapist, I find it inspiring and humbling to be a part of my clients’ processes and marvel that they actually handle some circumstances way better than I – they are my greatest teachers! Selling one’s home is not for the faint of heart; it’s a daunting physical and emotional challenge, laden with difficult decisions, annoying personalities, stress, expense, and drama. Going through this process at this time in my life has heightened my sensitivity and empathy for just how significant it can be to let go of your home.

I’ve moved before, several times actually, but this move feels significantly different. From a young married couple moving out of their first apartment to being pregnant and buying our first home to then buying the larger, family home in the great family-friendly town with children in tow – each move felt limitless and dedicated to building and growth. Now, our children are grown and the family-friendly town is filling with new, young couples who are taking their turn growing their families. And, my beautiful home that has my signature in every room, with its enormous backyard and custom kitchen, is filled with “stuff” that no longer supports our vision of what we value moving forward. The Poet Mary Oliver wrote in her beautiful poem “Wild Geese”: “the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting…over and over announcing your place in the family of things.” Our “place” is to move on….

When we bought this home, we valued stability, a great school system, the home base for extended family and holidays, but time has passed and needs change and we have created a new values list. What we value most now is freedom, the ability to travel, ease in our days and deciding how best to use our time and money wisely. While my backyard and kitchen still take my breath away and I adore waking to the sound of dozens of birds first thing in the morning, I have way too many pots and cookbooks and the backyard is impossible to keep up with. With some chagrin I realize that there are birds everywhere and Pinterest has every recipe imaginable so I don’t have to do without. I just need my life to be more efficient and precise.

I won’t lie; in the past few weeks I’ve cried a few buckets. At the same time, I work diligently on keeping my focus on where I’m going and what I NEED to bring with me. I consistently remind myself of what I’m excited about in the future….as Dr Seus said “oh the places you’ll go…..” I’ve created a vision board to keep the vision and intention concrete and my motivation high. I know there are land mines along the way… I’m attached to my stuff and I’m going to have ridiculous moments of not being able to let go of something in the attic that I haven’t seen in 20 years. I’m trying to be gentle with myself and allow for the interplay between my heart and head. And, if all else fails self-compassion comes in the vision of a storage unit that will give me the time and space to ease into our new, downsized reality.

My expertise is helping people transition through all the changes that life offers.  As a Retirement Coach, my job is to help you successfully create a fulfilling, exciting new chapter.  No matter where in the world you are or how busy your life is, the phone, Skype, FaceTime, and the internet make our meetings easy to manage – or we can meet in person in the NYC / NJ area.  Let’s talk about how we can work together!




What’s Your Apple Pie Retirement?

What's Your Apply Pie Retirement Look Like?

A Retirement Coach Can Help You Find the Right Recipe for Happiness

I love engaging people in conversation about retirement. It’s fascinating and provocative to hear people’s thoughts and dreams about what they’re hoping for in their second chapter. Interestingly, the further away from retirement you are, the bigger the dreams are. The closer it gets, the more concern I hear as the mist of reality drizzles down. I hear small, whispered concerns, sometimes an eye-roll. Some of the most common concerns I hear are:

* I’m afraid I’ll outlive my savings

* Do we remain in our current home or downsize?

* Should we sell, should we buy, should we rent?

* I know I’m not “supposed” to live my life around my children but I want to stay

 active in their lives…

* I’m afraid of starting from scratch

* I can’t believe I’m this age – I still feel so young; it’s depressing

* I’m so done with my job; I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next

 (blank) years

* I’m afraid we’re going to kill each other with all that time together….

These are rich, sincere questions and concerns and it’s brave to put them into words and share them. When I engage folks in these initial conversations, even though there are often no specific answers, the process of communicating and letting those wheels turn is experienced as a “relief” and a connection over a complicated topic. What I find most troubling, however, is the non-conversation: the person who laughs, waves a hand at me and says, “Ha, that’s easy, I have no loss of ideas and interests; easy as apple pie…..” or “I’ll figure it out when I get there….” Maybe, but statistically lots of people “get there” without having done their focused research, without having done their recipe comparisons or shopping, and now they are staring at a stove, a cupboard full of right or wrong ingredients and not a clue about how to proceed.

And, statistically, these people who wind up hungering insatiably for what their mind, heart, and spirit truly needs wind up in DIRE physical and emotional crises.

Retirement Planning is Your Recipe

I can say I love apple pie, but I can assure you that my version of the perfect apple pie can be strikingly different than yours. Crust, no crust, warm, cold, nuts, no nuts, Macintosh or Granny Smith; they’re all Apple Pie, but the slice that lights up my world may be an easy turn-down for you. Retirement is a unique time in people’s lives because there’s no right answer and the abundance of possibilities can seem daunting. For example, your financial advisor can tell you somberly, “You need to continue to work” but that may only be true if you’re dug in to live exactly the way you’re living now. Although the bottom line is math and numbers don’t lie, there’s wiggle-room to earn less and spend much less or continue the lifestyle you’re accustomed to by finding ways to earn income. You decide. And, if you don’t know how to figure that out, that surely is a conversation in which you need to put energy.

No one can tell you what your next chapter should look and feel like. Folks tend to gravitate to what they know and feels familiar; however, it’s really by having conversations, learning and being curious that you get to expand your vision and think outside the box. Conversation is the first step in exploring your possibilities, all the different recipes out there. It is the first tactical maneuver you can initiate to get the ball rolling NOW, before retirement, so that every slice of YOUR pie is irresistible.

My expertise is helping people transition through all the changes that life offers.  As a Retirement Coach, my job is to help you successfully create a fulfilling, exciting new chapter.  No matter where in the world you are or how busy your life is, the phone, Skype, FaceTime, and the internet make our meetings easy to manage – or we can meet in person in the NYC / NJ area.  Let’s talk about how we can work together!