In Retirement

Getting Ready for Your Next Chapter

Baby Boomers are not exactly a quiet generation – far from it. They’re called “boomers,” and for good reason. They exploded into this world from 1946 to 1964 – a time of unparalleled prosperity when jobs were plentiful and elementary schools sprouted like mushrooms across the country to educate them.

Boomers continued in that vein – causing a ruckus – as they grew up. They flexed their muscles on college campuses, stormed into the workforce with energy, determination and considerable success. Even in their more traditional turn as parents, they marked their style of rearing children in a “helicopter” mode of hovering and “anticipating every need” sort of way.

Now, with the youngest boomers about to enter their seventh decade, they continue to put their own mark on what this next chapter (boomers would never concede that it’s their final chapter) might bring. No, this next chapter – sometimes coupled with retirement, bears the unmistakable “boomer stamp.” What other generation could spawn that phenomenon – the Villages – a census-designated community northwest of Orlando and populated by over 50,000 fun-loving, hyper-social and active adults, aged 55 and above.

But getting to the Villages, or whatever other abode the next chapter might bring, means moving – usually from a large suburban home replete with rooms full of furniture, adornments, rugs, and décor. Way too much to move to a place that promises a more-scaled back life with no worries about upkeep, yard maintenance or home repairs. But what to do with all your stuff?

It is neither an easy nor an altogether pleasant chore. Indeed, from learning that your adult children have no interest, let alone room, for your beautiful Ethan Allen dining room furniture, to the stark realization that you have way too much of everything, it’s a completely daunting task. There is this adage that could be instructive – “how do you eat an entire elephant – one bite at a time.”

So, let’s get started. The diminutive, but nearly ubiquitous and ever-helpful Marie Kondo, the organizing and de-cluttering superstar, offers not only a great philosophy of deciding what to keep and what to toss, she also provides a clear method – the KonMari. It is a minimalist-inspired approach to tackling your belongings, category-by-category rather than room-by-room.

You begin by imagining your “ideal space” and determining what that looks like. Then commit to tidying things up and deciding about the changes you want to make to your lifestyle.

These are the rules:

  1. Commit to tidying up
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle
  3. Finish discarding first
  4. Tidy by category, not by location
  5. Follow the right order
  6. And, most important – ask yourself if the items spark joy

The interesting, and tactile, aspect of this method is that you physically hold each item and decide if it brings the feeling of joy to you. It also allows you to remember where and when you got the item and if the reasons for that still fit with the new life you are in the process of creating.

Next are the categories of items:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Miscellaneous items
  5. Sentimental items

The idea here is truly deciding which items no longer have value to you and then discarding them. The process is, of course, also prescribed. You start by taking everything out of your closets and drawers (clothes); all the books in all the rooms and on all the shelves (category 2); all the files and paperwork in your desk and file cabinets (papers); then the miscellaneous items (category 4) and finally (category 5), the sentimental items that include not only all the photos but also the first Christmas tree ornament your now 30-year old son made for you when he was four.

Then you go item by item (this is the furthest thing from a quick and easy, slap-dash process). You hold each item, unlock memories and then honestly assess if it brings you joy. Once that process is complete you should have a greatly reduced collection of items that you then return to closets, drawers, shelves and cupboards or, perhaps, into moving boxes. The rule here, though, is to not get sidetracked and to completely finish one category before moving onto the next.

Now you should be well on your way to a very scaled-down household – all organized and ready to move to your next home – with you eager to begin your new, downsized, more joy-filled life.


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