As someone working with people in transition, I meet a lot of interesting women. Amanda is one of them. A wonderful, professional woman approaching 60, Amanda had her mind made up. After spending several months carefully considering her heart and what she wanted for her life, she knew that she desired travel, adventure, and new experiences.
She wanted to downsize her possessions, her home, and almost every other aspect of her life to afford her new adventure. When she asked her friends and family to embrace the change, expecting them to give a hearty “heck ya!” in support of her life change, she was met with shock and awe.
Why would she want to separate from the things she had seemingly worked her whole life for? Why would she want to live in a space smaller than others’ guest suites?
Despite the many attempts to dissuade her and in the face of the overall guffaw that came her way, she remained prepared to embrace significant change, make intentional choices for herself, and live a life on purpose. It was an exciting time for her!
Amanda wanted to shout from the rooftops about her new direction and charge full steam ahead, receiving smiles and encouragement all around. Unfortunately, her family was slow to adopt the idea that living tiny was the right choice for her and many of her friends also thought the decision was “unique.” (I think that’s a nice way of saying nuts!)
While she started out wanting everyone to celebrate her choice to downsize, Amanda realized she would first have to work on helping them simply understand it.
It wasn’t immediately clear to Amanda how to do this. She was hesitant to get on a soapbox about the benefits of living tiny because she didn’t want to give the impression that she considered tiny living the only right way.
At the same time, she wanted nothing more than to have the support of those she loved, and what better way is there to garner support than by showing that your choices make you happy, stress free, and full of new experiences?
Even to this day, Amanda says she doesn’t have all the answers. Over the past few years, she’s had disagreements with those who still think bigger is better and life lived in a small cottage home community is a bit absurd.
After learning about her experience, I picked up a few tips I believe are worth passing along if you are faced with the challenge of getting your friends and family to accept your tiny house choice (or any other choice!)
Everyone is on a journey. But we are all at different points. Sometimes we walk alone and other times we get to go in groups. It is easy when we can already see the benefits, to want everyone to walk alongside us. People need to find their own way, though.
Instead of focusing on the flaws or merits of others’ journeys, choose to focus your attention on your own journey and talk only about what you’ve learned through personal experiences. For Amanda, this meant staying away from the territory of how downsizing could benefit everyone else in an effort to sway naysayers to her side.
You only have absolute influence over one thing: your personal choices. So, while having the support of your closest circle, colleagues, and even strangers would be nice, realize that you have plenty of reinforcement from within for your choices.
No one likes to be told what to do. I don’t and chances are, you don’t either. People like to come to their own conclusions. Amanda found that instead of spending time explaining and preaching, her days were better spent living and showing the merit of her decision with results. Plus, the results are the fun part so focusing on them makes her feel good!
She recalls a conversation at a Christmas party in which several ladies were discussing what a shame it was that the holiday had become so materialistic. While it would have been incredibly easy in that moment to espouse the joys of getting rid of stuff in order to embrace life, Amanda chose to talk about how experiential gifts were making a comeback and didn’t require any material purchasing or gifting.
She explained that she and her sister had bought each other a trip for Christmas and showed some photos of the adventure. She was able to demonstrate the results of her intentional lifestyle choices without actually bringing up the choices themselves.
One thing in life is certain. Everyone desires a support network; a place to share our frustrations, celebrate our victories, and even vent when we need to! It is not always best to lay this on the same family and friends that may not understand, especially if you’ve recently made some major changes.
Amanda looked to her new community for groups and activities filled with like-minded people. She even turned to social media this past year to maintain social distancing but not feel disconnected. She describes sharing the neighborhood gossip on Nextdoor, enjoying happy hour over Zoom, and even getting a daily workout via a local app.
Amanda taught me that there are always like-minded people experiencing the same things as we are. The task is to find them. Being able to share life experiences with a new network keeps sensitive relationships with family and old friends intact while keeping unnecessary anxiety off your plate.
Amanda admits her ways of dealing with the reactions of others have not always been perfect. Sometimes there have been heated conversations and a bit of friction. But she has embraced the difference and come to realize that there is no one size fits all.
The same way she wants others to accept her life in a tiny cottage home in an exciting community, she knows others want to be appreciated for their lifestyle choices also.
The biggest takeaway? Amanda realized that eventually people accepted her move to a tiny home not because of the size of the house or the savings on expenses but because Amanda accepted it and they accept her. She aims to return the favor.
Do you tend to accept or criticize your friends’/family’s lifestyle choices? If you were to downsize your home, how small would you go? Would you prefer to downsize to a stand-alone home or a house in an established community? Why? Please share your thoughts!
Let’s Have a Conversation!