What-is & Wanted vs. Unwanted

A friend said, I’m downsizing a dream.

It turns out he’s letting go of a long-held dream to start his own business.

Instead, he’s repackaging and repurposing that old aspiration into joining a small technology startup as an employee. While it won’t be his own business, he’s getting in on the ground floor and will have startup equity.

Downsizing is an interesting concept.

Unfortunately, it’s become almost exclusively associated with decreasing the size of a workforce, which has given the concept of downsizing a bad rap.

In reality, it’s a less loaded concept. Downsizing simply means to make something smaller. Often, however, the reality seems to be just the opposite: Downsizing offers the possibility of something else becoming bigger.

In the case of my friend, letting go of the dream of starting his own business means opening up to the possibility of playing an integral role in building a company from the ground up—without the risk of going out on his own. That new vision has become more compelling than the original dream.

I frequently work with clients who are downsizing their physical space.

For instance, a client moved from a 4,000+ home in the suburbs to just shy of a 1,000 square foot condo in the city. Downsizing for her meant shedding the past and reinventing herself.

Or the couple who downsized in order to lower overhead so they could use the equity built up in their larger home for the pursuit of their next chapter.

I find interesting the intersection between the reasons people downsize their physical living space and the (right) reasons for downsizing a dream.

While there are a variety of motivations behind downsizing, here are a few I encounter frequently:

    • Who you are today. For some, their home is a reflection of the past. The size, location, or character of the dwelling no longer aligns with who they are today. When we apply this to downsizing a dream: Does your dream align with who you are today? Does it reflect your values? Have you outgrown the dream?
    • Overhead. For some, supporting the overhead of their current quarters comes at too high a price. Working around the clock to pay the mortgage, taxes, insurance, utilities, maintenance, etc. is no longer an appealing tradeoff. When you think of downsizing a dream: What is the tangible cost of pursuing your dream? Are you willing to pay the price? Will the necessary sacrifices to achieve your dream be worth the cost?
    • Cost of living. Moving into more compact quarters—whether in your current town or relocating to a lower-cost locale—can significantly lower your monthly expenses. When we apply this to downsizing a dream: What’s the monthly “cost”—both literally and figuratively—of living with your dream? Are there ways to pursue your dream that make it more affordable, both in terms of tangible and intangible costs?
    • Less upkeep. The true “price” of a dwelling goes beyond money; it also includes the time it takes to clean and maintain a larger home. For instance, those downsizing to a condo are relieved of lawn care and can simply call for maintenance when something needs to be repaired. When you think of downsizing a dream: What are ways your dream can involve less regular upkeep? Can a smaller, scaled-back version of your dream make life easier? Are there behind-the-scene parts of your dream that can be outsourced?
    • Investment. For some, downsizing becomes attractive when they realize their house is no longer the long-term investment they originally imagined it to be. When we apply this to downsizing a dream: Is your dream a destination-only type goal where all that matters is getting to the end rather than enjoying the journey along the way? Can you joyfully “live” in your dream even as you pursue it rather than only feeling rewarded once it’s achieved?
    • The Joneses. Some are downsizing where they live because they’re no longer interested in trying to keep up with the Joneses. They are interested in a dwelling that truly fits their unique needs and lifestyle—rather than trying to keep up with what everyone else is doing. When you think of downsizing a dream: Is your dream really your own? Is your dream something you truly want for yourself or is it something you’ve latched onto in trying to live up to who you think you should be or who others want you to be?

Do you have the urge to scale back or go smaller? What possibilities do you see opening up as a result of downsizing?