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Cultivating Your Legacy: Steps to Declutter and Preserve Your Family’s Story

The Sequoias | Matt Paxton presenting to future residents at Sequoia Living Life Plan Community

Matt Paxton, author, organizational guru, and host of PBS’s Legacy List, recently presented to Sequoia Living’s future residents. 

Paxton helps people discover how personal belongings hold a wealth of memories. Items with a high sentimental value can hold people back from decluttering and downsizing. Through storytelling and practical tips, Paxton taught an auditorium full of retirees how to curate their belongings so that their family history is preserved for future generations.

If you are considering downsizing to a cozier living space, letting go of decades’ worth of belongings can give you space for a happier, more joyful tomorrow.

4 Steps for Letting Go of Your Belongings

Step 1: Know your finish line

What drives you, and where do you want to go? Pinpoint your motivation, or “why,” for downsizing or decluttering your home. And identify your finish line and your “where.” What is your ultimate goal? Are you planning to relocate to a retirement community or downsize to a cozier living space? 

TIP: Knowing your ‘why’ and the ‘where’ will motivate you to keep going on the tough days.

Step 2: Start small

To make the process manageable and less overwhelming, begin with small, consistent steps. Dedicate just 10 minutes each day to decluttering. This approach helps you build a habit without feeling like a huge task. Starting small, or ‘Micro-Decluttering,’ makes it easier to stick with the routine and gradually make noticeable progress. Over the first few weeks, those daily 10-minute sessions will add up, creating momentum and making the decluttering process more sustainable.

TIP: “It’s not about what you get done; it’s about getting started,” says Paxton.

Step 3: Focus on your Legacy

Create a Legacy List of five items that are important to YOU. These five possessions will help you preserve and share your family history. Through this exercise, you’ll identify what truly matters to you and the people who have played an important role in your life.

By focusing on these important possessions and their stories, you can more easily let go of less meaningful belongings, ensuring that your most cherished memories and values are preserved and shared with your loved ones, creating a lasting legacy.

TIP: Share the stories. “The story is the legacy – NOT the item.”

Step 4: Document and tell those stories

To honor the significance of your legacy items, take the time to document and share their stories. Each item on your Legacy List holds emotional value, and sharing these stories allows you to celebrate and preserve those emotions. Sharing each item’s history and personal meaning transforms it into more than just an object; it becomes a treasured piece for your family or loved ones. 

People are more likely to appreciate and want these items when they understand the memories and emotions attached to them.

TIP: “You have to tell the stories, or it didn’t happen.”

Sara McVey and Matt Paxton, smiling at camera

Sara McVey, Sequoia Living’s President and CEO, and Matt Paxton, organizational guru and TV Personality, smile at the camera after event.

Are you considering downsizing in the near future?

For more tips on moving and clearing decades’ worth of belongings, visit Sequoia Living’s Downsizing page. 

It’s never too early to get started. By starting early, you’ll avoid feeling overwhelmed. Access our FREE Move-in Guide, which includes downsizing do’s and don’ts in one handy guide. 

To see how your life can change for the better, schedule a visit to one of our Life Plan Retirement Communities in the Bay Area.

Meet fellow retirees and connect with our residents. To learn more about a Sequoia Living community, select one below or contact us online!

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