03 Oct Downsizing from a son’s perspective
Moving home is one of those experiences in life along with losing a loved one, your first child, divorce and (name your own choice here), that is rated most traumatic, stressful and, yes, exciting too. Very few of us manage a life time without having to cope with a home move at least once. If ever a life event resembled a Change Management initiative, moving home is the one.
I raise this now because my Mother has just completed a successful move and downsizing after living in the same house for 40 years. The case for action had been strong for sometime but until recently she had toyed with the idea several times before always rejecting it. The difficulties presented seemed to outweigh the opportunities. The burden of running an, apparently idyllic, English country cottage and large garden had inevitably and progressively increased for Mum after the loss of her soul mate, my Father, 7 years ago. Even when this burden became intolerable, there was still much room for discussion about the right course of action and the hope that it would be better tomorrow.
The process of selling a house in England is not designed for the faint-hearted nor those with doubts about the change they are undertaking. Neither buyer nor seller is bound to the transaction until an exchange of contracts. This occurs weeks or months after the buyer’s offer is accepted and maybe only a couple of days before closure and the move itself. Usually, the buy/sell transaction is just one of several in an inter-dependent chain. Weak links do what weak links do. Sleepless nights and interminable legal questionnaires can easily be converted into a loss of determination to see it through.
Then there is the little matter of emotional attachment to the status quo; the treasured memories of decades of life in the same home, the neighbours and nearby friends, the beauty of the garden on a late summer morning. These are only amplified when the packing starts. The photographs, letters and ornaments with sentimental value are rediscovered. There is inevitably that low point in the change curve when only the wilderness ahead is visible. Life will surely never return to normal. Nowhere will ever seem like home again. Everything is changing and it does not feel good.
My Mother wisely engaged the help of Meirion, our home downsizing consultant (a.k.a. Change Manager) who brought detachment tempered with empathy and combined with pragmatism and experience. In this case, as so often, our Change Manager was critical to success.
The move itself is a moment of truth but no going back now. The new home, with familiar furniture quickly in position, takes shape with surprising speed. Suddenly the focus is on the future rather than the past. The moments of doubt are still there at stressful moments and when short of sleep but the flood tide of hope and optimism cannot be held back.
Change is good.