Don’t Downsize – Right-Size

Posted April 4th, 2009 by Michael Janzen and filed in Issue 2: Downsizing

tiny-market-house-3dDownsizing is a common discussion point among those seeking a simpler life. Learning to live with less and reducing your impact and dependence on your surroundings can bring you more peace, freedom, and happiness. Many people seem to have chosen lives so complicated and costly that their surroundings actually provide more of a burden than a benefit. For these folks downsizing will be the direction they will travel if they desire a simpler life. Finding the balance between too much and too little is rightsizing.

Downsize Everything

Downsizing can not only be applied to the physical size of a home but to the complexity of life itself. The more you surround yourself with the more complex your life becomes because everything you choose to add requires more of your energy. The most obvious examples are possessions, debt, and your home. But it’s easy to extend this to commitments, hobbies, projects, and even people. I even decided recently to downsize my email by unsubscribing from email newsletters I don’t usually read. The less noise in my life the easier it is to focus on the things that move me forward and bring me the life I want to live.

Adjust Over Time

Rightsizing never ends because our needs constantly change. The trick is to stay mindful of your life’s changing requirements and find the right balance between burden and freedom. Staying focused on achieving the life you want to live is the key. This involves being on the lookout for things that add value to your life, things that take away value, and things that are just taking up space. For example if you can keep your home clean and organized on a regular basis you’ll find it’s easier to feel free and empowered.

Living in a smaller space can help because clutter stands out a lot more, but I don’t think living in a small space is essential for finding happiness and freedom. In fact the first step toward rightsizing isn’t about the size of your home but about lightening your mental burdens.

It’s also important to remember that few people can live comfortably without some stuff. Very few people could go through life with only the shirt on their back and live happily wandering the world alone. Most of us need each other, a safe and comfortable home, and a steady supply of food, and that’s just for starters.

Avoid Debt

When you take this approach anyone can start rightsizing immediately. Begin with your possessions; sell or give away the things you don’t use. If you’re concerned about a monetary loss try to remember that if these things don’t add real value to your life they are a costing you by cluttering up your space and weighing on your mind. Selling these things can actually pay you back in many more ways and the money they bring can go toward reducing debt.

Every dollar we owe also adds to weight on our lives. Taking on some debt may temporarily empower us to overcome hurdles but too much debt for long periods of time enslaves just like too many responsibilities and commitments. Finding ways to eliminate debt and save more money will always lighten your mental load.

In fact when I look around and see so many people firing blame off in all directions for the current state of the economy, I can’t help but think that everyone with a mortgage, car payment, and credit card is just as responsible as the rest. Debt is the enemy. Debt is what filled the bubble that burst. Everyone from kids to corporations to governments operate in a reality where debt is required and normal.

Choose a different reality. If those of us looking for a simpler life simply chose to downsize our own debt we’d instantly become much more self-sufficient and free. The only cost is we’d need to choose to live a lifestyle within our means instead of within our cash-flow.


Eventually you may decide to move into the right size house. Consider thinking of a home’s true value as it is defined by the safety and comfort it provides and not the cost or square footage. In today’s world the idea of a home without a mortgage seems virtually impossible but the truth is that creative and frugal people find ways of getting the most for their money. A small flexible home that serves your needs can often come at a lower cost if you’re willing to spend more time and effort on making it fit your needs. This can be a home you build, renovate, or rent.

We live in a time when downsizing seems to make a lot of sense to a lot of people. When money is tight living more simply is not only easier, it’s required. Adapt and focus on changing the way you think first. Question your values and focus on the real prize, happiness and freedom… or whatever the prize is for you.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter, and visit my blogs, Tiny House Design and do it yourself Freedom.

8 Responses to “Don’t Downsize – Right-Size”

  1. Diana BeamNo Gravatar says:

    Nice Blog.
    Did you know that the term RightSize RightSizing are Federal Trademarked?
    In fact, on our original submission a few of years ago…..we used the term
    Don’t Downsize – RightSize!

    If you have questions regarding the use you may contact me at the following:
    email hidden; JavaScript is required
    7263 Eagle Road
    Indianapolis, In. 46278
    Rebecca W. Geyer ,PC
    Gole, Van Winkle
    Attorney At Law
    9840 Michigan Road
    Carmel, In 46032

  2. WinnifredNo Gravatar says:

    Finding the right size house, car and amount of stuff is more important than going big or ultra tiny. Frankly, raising three kids in 100 square feet or less would be a one way ticket to crazy town in my books. I know there will be those who will say it can be done but remember they are still your kids when they are15, 17 and 18 and all over six feet tall. Finding the right space for how your life works means more than just space and stuff. My husband works nights and having a separated space is far more important than the size of the space. Our kids friends were constantly amazed at our house: 1100 sq ft including the the finished basement (at least half the size of most of their homes); no dryer (what do you mean you hang it outside? or as one girl said “The neighbours get to see all your underwear? Gross!”); no dishwasher (my son’s friend, washing his own plate: “This is cool!It’s like camping!); one bathroom (one of my daughters friend was from a six member household where every person had their own bathroom). But, and this is why the kids came to our house, I’m sure, we have had a home computer since 1990.

  3. Michael JanzenNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Diana. I did a trademark search but didn’t find the trademark you’re referring to… but in the spirit of picking fewer battles and spending any time on the potential risk I edited the post. Thanks!

  4. EJNo Gravatar says:

    So true: Downsizing can not only be applied to the physical size of a home but to the complexity of life itself.

    We all tend to get stuck with the physical, easily measured aspects, but complexity and distractions get forgotten.

  5. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    I suggest a more comfortable term might be ‘re-sizing’. No judgment, just re-size from wherever you are at the moment. We find that many folks who purchase homes in our communities are ‘moving up’ from a yacht, a houseboat, an ‘attached’ condominium, or other smaller space. ‘Right’ sizing sounds judgemental and may be less emotionally accessible to some….resizing could be just ‘right’. What do you think?

  6. DanNo Gravatar says:

    It finally dawned on me a few years ago that time was running out on starting to live the life I wanted (I’m nearing 50). Heck, I still don’t have a clear picture of what that is. But I started reducing my stuff, working on shrinking my mountain of debt, and at least started identifying what I DIDN’T want my life to be.
    I’m far from my major life-change goal; moving to a tiny rural situation…but at least I have a hazy glimpse of it. As odd as it sounds, I live in an apartment while I own a house: an old, little cottage 1600 miles away. My vacations and spare funds go into renovating it (it cost less than $10K, so it sure needs work!), but I get so much out of that time, that it helps to keep me hopeful for the future. I like the point that it’s not about ‘how small you can go’, but ‘how small still makes sense for you’. I can attest that less can be more, as long as it is done for practical reasons, and not out of “hairshirt martyr-like asceticism for its own sake”. The more I pay down my debt and remove stuff I don’t use, the more free I feel.

  7. FredNo Gravatar says:

    Anyone where I can start my own blog.

  8. Michael JanzenNo Gravatar says:

    Most of us use WordPress. You can get a free (limited) blog at or download the software and host it at most web hosting companies yourself at Another popular free blogging community is .