5 Creative Ways to Upsize Your Life
by Downsizing

Upsize by Downsizing

This guest post was written by Betsy, co-author of Married With Luggage.

Imagine relocating across the country and waiting for the moving truck to arrive so you can unpack your life and get settled.  Only the truck never makes it to your destination because it caught fire in New Jersey.  Everything you own is now ash, and through the magic of the Internet you find out that someone actually video recorded the fiery truck on the highway and uploaded it to YouTube.

Burn, baby, burn.

This actually happened to a friend of mine.  And he said that after an initial 10-minute freak out session, he started embracing the idea of starting over with a more simple existence.  “Not a bad idea,” I thought.

The Cost of Ownership

No matter what you own, there is a maintenance cost.  We can speak in dollars – insurance, taxes, interest.  Or even in time – cleaning, updating, protecting.  But the hardest maintenance cost for most people is simply sentimental value.

We transfer our feelings and memories onto an object and decide we can’t let go because we’ll risk losing the feeling or memory.  Before long, we become surrounded by these visual reminders of our memories and no longer have room to make new ones.  It’s hard to move forward in your life when your past is crowding your present.

Creative Downsizing

The answer, of course, is to get rid of some of this stuff.  But that’s way easier said than done.  We often need to be compelled to do this with a move or a lifestyle change.  Imagine how much richer life would be if we moved the junk out and made room for new opportunities instead of grudgingly making room only when it was forced upon us.

My husband and I are currently simplifying our ‘physical’ lives down to a couple of boxes and two backpacks.  That’s a big change from our starting point in a packed 3500 square-foot house.

We’re leaving on October 1 for Ecuador and 3+ years of exploring the world.  We’ve been working for a while to get to this point, as you can imagine, and along the way we’ve found a few creative downsizing strategies to help you simplify a little (or a lot) of your life.

1. The Reverse Birthday Party

For my 39th birthday I picked 39 of my favorite things – things that were special but not quite special enough to make it into my one box.  There was the silk scarf from France, the leather purse I bought on my honeymoon, a cocktail ring with more bling than my lifestyle required, and several other little treasures.

I wrote out a tag for each item detailing its history and why it was special to me.  Then I put them all on a shelf in my living room and invited all my friends over for my birthday party.  The rules were simple:

  • If you find something you like, write your name on the back of the tag.
  • If you are the only one who wants that item, it is yours.
  • If more than one person wants the item, a “face-off” would occur and a democratic vote would decide who won.
  • In lieu of gifts to me, winners of the items could donate to our trip in an anonymous box on the bar.

This kind of party accomplishes a few things.  You get to share and make wonderful memories with your good friends and continue to see your favorite items used by your favorite people in the future – much better than an anonymous eBay sale.  And your friends help you get through the pain of giving up the more sentimental things.  Take a picture of you with your friend and the item and you’ll still feel like you own it in a way.

2. The Craigslist Store

I can’t say enough about the wonder that is Craigslist.  Just about anything can be sold or given away on this site.  We’ve sold everything from a $500 dresser to a $5 box of random cords, and we’ve rarely had an ad out more than a week without a bite.

The key to successful Craigslist selling is to set up your own store. Do you have several pieces of furniture to sell?  Put them all together in a staging area.  When your buyers come by, they get a chance to see your other items and you can wheel and deal to get rid of more things.  People love a deal, so throwing in a rug you don’t think will sell for much with a piece of furniture a buyer is waffling on may help make the sale.

Think of your downsizing project like your own little retail store and you’ll sell twice as much in half the time.

3. Put it in a Box with an Expiration Date

People tell me all the time they can’t get rid of things for all sorts of reasons.  But you know, reasons don’t really matter for this trick. It is all about “Out of sight, out of mind.”  Take a few things you don’t use, but think you can’t live without (even though you haven’t used them in 2 years), and put them in a box.  Label the box with the current date and the contents and a sell/donate date.  Set the sell/donate date 1 month out, 6 months out, or whatever.  I will be blown away if you end up going back for even 10% of these items before the sell/donate date.

4. Take a Photo and Clear Your Space

This is one of my favorite ideas, especially for old clothes.  Do you have a photo of yourself on the night when you looked really hot in that outfit (you know, on that unforgettable night out with your friends)?  Keep the photo and get rid of the actual outfit if you no longer wear it on a regular basis.  If an occasion arises someday that requires a similar fancy outfit, treat yourself to something new and stylish.  Sometimes a photo that acts as a visual reminder is all you need to re-experience the joy of an item, and having it out of your space lets you live in the present instead of being cluttered by items you no longer use.

5. The Rule of One Thing In, Two Things Out

This is the lazy man’s solution to downsizing, and it can be effective over the long-run.  You simply decide that for every new item you bring into your house or office, two items will go.  New socks?  Get rid of twice as many old socks.  Mom sends you new towels?  Get rid of twice as many of the old, raggedy ones.  See how this works?  It’s a smaller effort, but an everyday one.  Once you get to your perfect balance, you simply keep this up with one thing in, one thing out.

Final Thoughts on the Benefits of Downsizing

I like to say that downsizing will upsize your life.  I know it sounds catchy, but it’s true.  Since my husband and I started downsizing over 4 years ago we have more money, time, and opportunity than I could have ever imagined.  There is no way we’d be planning a trip around the world if we were still weighed down with all the miscellaneous stuff we had acquired over the years.

So start small, like we did, and slowly integrate the 5 methods above into your current (cluttered) lifestyle.  I promise, you’ll find yourself in a clutter-free state in no time.

Betsy Talbot is one half of the blogging team at Married with Luggage.  When she’s not writing, she’s paring down, saving up, and getting ready to travel the world with her husband Warren.  Betsy shares her secrets on saving money in the free ebook How We Saved Enough Money to Change Our Lives (and How You Can, Too!).

Photo by: Dustin Diaz

The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself

Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

Inspired

Once upon a time, two thirteen-year-old boys were watching the track and field Summer Olympics events on television.  Neither of them had previously spent any time watching amateur athletes strive with their heart and soul to be their absolute best, so the boys were mesmerized by the passion, determination, and athletic grace displayed by the Olympic competitors.  In a moment of unadulterated inspiration, the two of them made a pact to become Olympic track and field competitors before their twenty-first birthdays.

That afternoon, over a glass of chocolate milk, they mapped out a rigorous training plan that involved frequent workouts both before and after school.  “If we stick to our training, we’ll be just as good the athletes on T.V.” one boy said to the other.  “I can’t wait to get started!” the other boy replied.

The next morning at 6AM the two boys woke-up, put their running shoes on, and met outside to begin their first official training session.  As they began running down the block, both of them had radiant smiles on their mugs.  “This is awesome!” one boy exclaimed as they trotted toward the sunrise.

Reality Raises One Question

About nine minutes later, a mile down the road, the harsh truth inevitably revealed itself.  Both of them were out of shape, slow, and completely out of breath.  They had no previous athletic training and no clue how difficult it would be.  All they could think about now were the aches, pains and exhaustion their bodies were experiencing.

Huffing and puffing, both boys stopped running and one fell to the ground on the side of the road.  “This is way harder than I thought,” the fallen boy said between breaths.

“Tell me about it,” the other boy agreed as he, too, fell to the ground gasping for air.  “Do you think it’s worth it?”

The other boy did not answer.  Instead, both of them rested on the cool morning grass in complete silence for several minutes, slowly regaining their breath, and thinking about the question.

Suddenly the first fallen boy forced himself to his feet.  “Yeah, I do think it’s worth it!  Do you?”

The other boy stood up slowly and nodded.  “Yeah, dude.  I think so too.”

And without further hesitation, both of them began running again.

The Journey

The following month, they joined their middle school track and field team.  With continued practice and guidance from their coach, both of them eventually placed in the top ten percentile for various middle school track competitions during their seventh and eighth grade school years.

In high school, they spent all four years on the track and field and cross country running teams.  Both of them consistently placed in the top five percentile for their grade and won various gold, silver, and bronze awards in the district competitions.  During their senior year, their track and field team made it to the state competition.  One boy walked away with a silver medal for the long jump and the other won a bronze medal for the 1500 meter run.

They both earned and accepted track and field scholarships to different state colleges.  Over the course of the next two years, even though they were apart, they trained passionately, competed head to head against one another on several occasions, and each won various collegiate events.  One time, they even placed first and second overall in the same exact event.

And although neither of them earned an Olympic medal, during their junior year of college, at the age of 20, they were reunited as teammates when they represented their country in the Summer Olympics.

Conclusion

When I was young, I was fortunate enough to have parents and mentors who taught me that the people who achieve their dreams and make the greatest impact in the world – whether athletically, musically, politically, technologically or otherwise – are rarely the most talented or gifted individuals.  They are instead the ones who work the hardest, and who are willing to overcome all obstacles to see their dreams through to fruition.

The moments when we feel uncertain about how to move forward, when we are inspired by our dreams but overwhelmed by the work required to achieve them, are the moments when we must ask ourselves one simple question:

Do you think it’s worth it?

Photo by: Millzero

One Decision that Changes Everything

 Take Action

This guest post was written by Alex, author of  Unleash Reality.

  • Money
  • Success
  • Freedom
  • Happiness
  • Glory

Mmmm.  YUM.  Sounds good doesn’t it?

And yet very few people ever live to become the success story they dream about.

Why?

Because all successful people have one excruciatingly simple thing in common.

And it’s the only thing that’s stopping you from being insanely, abundantly, super successful.

Taking Action

Successful people take action.

That’s it.

“Take action?  Yeah, right!”  It sounds too simple, doesn’t it?

Yeah, it does.  But don’t be fooled.  It is that simple.  So before you stop reading this and go back to your blurry life of mediocrity, listen up.

Most people live in a complete daze.  Actually, they don’t LIVE.  They just ‘get by’ because they never take the necessary action to make things happen – to seek their dreams.  Does this sound like someone you know?

But successful people…

They’re ALIVE.  They make things happen because they take action.

They have that look in their eyes – undiluted determination and infinite appetite for possibility.

They live in constructive flow, always looking for a way – always taking the next logical step.

Productive Positivity

When you constructively move forward with a positive outlook on life, all of the self-induced barriers dissolve and you get out of your own way.  Nothing feels impossible and you see potential and possibility in everything because you’re not limiting your focus with destructive negativity.

Successful people constantly live in a state of productive positivity.  They don’t settle and they aren’t scared to fail.  They try, and fail, and try again until they succeed.  Because they know it’s possible, even if they haven’t yet figured out how.

Everything they do is soaked in a deep personal desire to move things forward.

They live for the feeling of accomplishment.  You know this feeling…

It’s the feeling of complete immersion in what you’re doing – when you tickle your own brilliance and the distinction between ‘you’ and the task at hand blurs until it’s complete.  It’s those moments when you’re taking action and constructively flowing with life instead of aimlessly stumbling through it.

I know you’ve felt it.  Maybe not often enough, but you have.

Ask Yourself

In every situation there is always a ‘most constructive’ path to choose.

Whether you’re running a business, having a conversation, walking down the street and see someone you’d like to meet, or even just entertaining yourself by browsing online – there’s always a constructive path.

Ask yourself, “What can I do right now that will make me more successful in my own eyes?”

The interesting thing is that as you ask yourself this question, little electrochemical fireworks explode in your mind and illuminate your entire being with the feeling of what success will be like.  Your mind automatically cycles through all the possible situations that will result from the different choices for an action that you take.

So ask yourself the question and think about what will help you move forward with your goals.  Immerse yourself in thought.  What is it that you really want?  And what choice can you make right now that will help you get one step closer?

Momentum Builds

After awhile your mind will become trained to subconsciously think about success, so when you have a little time and are deciding what to do, that image of success that came up will poke its head into your plans and make you think twice about zoning out in front of the T.V.

Sure, sometimes it’ll be a small action like reading a book, but momentum builds and as you begin to feel the possibilities for success, you’ll stop limiting what you deem ‘possible’ and you start taking on bigger projects and more promising endeavors.

And as you do it more and more, it becomes less of a question and more of an overall state of being where all you will want to do is move forward towards success.  And it feels really good.  It brings purpose into your life.

And it doesn’t have to be just material success – deciding to read for pleasure, meditate, exercise, or spend time with a loved one are all valid decisions toward success.  The definition of success, after all, is up to you.

But more than anything, success hinges on the simple act of making a decision to live – to absorb yourself in the process of going after your goals.

So make that decision…

And take action.

Also, check out these best selling books on taking action:

Alex writes about personal development and how to dive into reality on his site Unleash Reality. You should check it out right now. And subscribe too.

Photo by: Thomas Hawk

25 Questions that Provoke Thought

Questions that Provoke Thought

If the question makes you think, it’s worth asking.

  1. What is it like to wake up every morning and pretend that you aren’t dying?
  2. Do you believe in the death penalty?  What if someone murdered your mother in cold blood?  What if someone murdered a stranger’s mother, but saved your life the month before?
  3. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow that person to be your friend?
  4. Would you rather be rich and paralyzed from the waist down or poor and able bodied?
  5. What’s the most expensive gift you have ever received?  Is it the best gift you have ever received?
  6. When was the last time you lied?  Is it possible to lie without saying anything at all?
  7. Stealing is immoral, right?  But what if stealing was the only way to feed a starving child?
  8. If I gave you $20, what percentage would you – really – save?  If I gave you $200,000, what percentage would you save?  Should there be a difference?
  9. If someone could tell you the exact day and time that you are going to die, would you want them to tell you?
  10. If you found out you were going to die today, would you have any regrets?  Would you be happy with the way you spent the last 24 hours of your life?
  11. What’s your single greatest moment of personal failure?  Looking back on it now, did it make you weaker or stronger?  What did you learn?
  12. Do the words ‘freedom’ and ‘liberty’ mean not being persecuted or discriminated against, or do they mean doing whatever you please?
  13. Have you ever discriminated against someone?  Imagine that a street gang notorious for wearing purple shirts has robbed and murdered several hundred people in your town.  If a man wearing a purple shirt just rang your doorbell, would you answer it?
  14. Is it crazier to choose to be poor or to spend 40 years of your life hating 40 hours a week?
  15. Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough time?  How many hours a week do you spend watching TV, or playing video games, or…?
  16. Do you ever celebrate the green lights?
  17. If you could be given another talent or ability, what would you want it to be?  Have you ever – really – tried to perfect this ability in yourself?
  18. No matter how bad things get, are you aware that someone always has it worse than you do?
  19. When you help someone, do you ever think, “What’s in it for me?”
  20. Joy is found with simple awareness.  What does your joy look like today?
  21. What’s the difference between ‘living’ and ‘existing?’
  22. Are you willing to sacrifice the life of your child or lover to support a war?
  23. Do you ask enough questions, or do you settle for what you know?
  24. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?
  25. If your life was a novel, what would be the title and how would your story end?

Please share your thoughts, and additional thought-provoking questions, in the comments section below.

And check out these books for more thought-provoking questions:

Photo by: Rogilde