SLT075: 4 Critical Areas You Need to Consider When Downsizing

Back in Episode 65, we talked about Strategic Simple Living and shared a few great tools you can use to plan your simple living strategy. Specifically, we used the 4 Direction Ideation Tool of Looking Outward/Inward/Backward/Forward as lenses for developing your strategy. We shared how we used this tool when downsizing for trying to find the perfect area for us to live.

But when we came to a decision point, we used a different framework for evaluating our final choice…and actually choosing where we’re moving to. So, armed with all we learned from the 4 Direction Ideation Tool process, we did our final analysis through the lenses of the 4 major areas of our life: Home, Work, Community, and Self.  And yep, we’re moving! We don’t have a hard and fast timeline yet, but we actually put our money where our collective mouth is and bought a lot to build on! Read More…


Topic:  4 Critical Areas You Need to Consider When Downsizing


So there are 4 critical areas you need to consider when downsizing, moving, simplifying, or making any other major change in life if you want to achieve and maintain some kind of congruence. They are Home, Work, Community, and Self.

I borrowed and tweaked some definitions for these from a course I took through Wharton taught by Stew Friedman. But the true key is that you need to define these areas for yourself. What works for you might be completely different from what works for us and that’s fine. Again, the goal is to achieve some congruity between these areas and create what Dr Friedman calls “4 Way Wins.” A 4 Way Win is an activity that has a positive impact on each of the four major areas of your life. Again, those are Home, Work, Community, and Self.


Continuing on with our example of looking for the ideal place for us to live, you can listen in to the episode and hear how we looked at those 4 critical life areas and how they impacted our downsizing efforts and our simplicity journey.

So the big announcement for us is that we’re moving to East Aurora, New York. Yeah…we know…we’re the family that is actually moving TO the Buffalo, NY area! But we know exactly what we’re getting into! I’m from Buffalo and it’ll be great to get back there after 31 years away, and living all over the world. And the little village of East Aurora embodies so much of what we’re looking for in a small town community. If you listen back to Episode 65 you’ll be amazed at what we said we were looking for, and what East Aurora has to offer. All except “mild winters,” that is!

“Anyhoos” (as Vanessa would say), here’s a quick video of some of the history of East Aurora and it’s influence on simplicity. You’ll see right off why we’re attracted to it!

Four Areas

So we’ve mentioned these four major life areas. Let’s address these one at a time. If you listen in to the show, you’ll see how we used each of these to evaluate where we’re going to call home.

The first area is Home. The home, or family, can include the people (or animals) you live with, your family of origin (parents, siblings, and others), or your family of creation (spouse, partner, significant other, children, and others). We include our physical home too. For us, we want that to be an outgrowth of our relationship with those close to us, and serve as a setting for interaction with them.

The second area is Work. Now, this could be different for everyone. For most people, this is your job… what you do for a living or, if you’re between jobs, what you’re aiming to do next. If you’re in school, then consider school as part of your work domain. You can include here the wide array of things you do as part of your career.

Then we have Community. Community can mean friends, neighbors, social groups, religious institutions, charitable activities, political committees, membership in nonprofit organizations, or anything that bears on your impact on the world beyond your work and your family.

Finally, we have Self. Self includes your physical and emotional health, intellectual and personal growth, leisure, and spirituality.

Wrap Up

So that’s it! The four life areas we considered and analyzed as we downsize our life. Starting off with a strategic focus using the 4 Direction Ideation Tool was a great start, but honing in using the major life areas of Home, Work, Community, and Self really helped us to decide where we want to live.

Again, whether you’re downsizing or not, take some time to examine your life using Home, Work, Community, and Self as lenses. You might just be surprised how many “4 way wins” you’re able to achieve and help bring some real congruence to your life!


So, what decisions could you make to achieve more 4 Way Wins? Are you considering downsizing or a big move in your future? If so, we’d love to hear about it and what tools you’re using to make your decisions. Leave us a comment below!



Special thanks to Jodialgara, Klund08, SimplyClearly-Laura Spawn and for you reviews on iTunes, and to Henriikka in France and Katie in Okinawa for your comments on!


You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.

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Photo Credit Timothy Valentine

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13 thoughts on “SLT075: 4 Critical Areas You Need to Consider When Downsizing

  1. I’m sold — it seems you have found the perfect location to make your lifestyle what you hope it to be. I am sure the winters will be a bit tough but I always love the time when I am forced inside to do the things that I put off — this will be an exciting move and I am happy we can call share it with you.

    • Well, Sherry…we’ll keep a pair of waxed up skis ready for you when you come visit! THAT would be awesome!

  2. Kudos for your advocacy of simplicity. I do feel compelled to comment on one of your criteria – good schools. You said you wanted somewhere with low taxes and good schools, but if the schools were not good enough, a good homeschooling network. Here’s another take on that – When we move to a great community, we are standing on the shoulders of those who built those schools. They worked for the children to come – not just their own children – through fundraising, coaching, volunteering. Would you consider paying it forward as they did – – work to make the schools a point of pride? In every place, there is much to be done, and energetic people with great values can contribute so much. But without that involvement, no community can sustain what brings us in the first place.

    • Suzanne- Thanks so much for listening in. We couldn’t agree more! Paying it forward is a core value for us and hopefully doing this podcast without monetary recompense is one example of how we try to express that core value. Volunteering at Sunshine’s school is at the top of Vanessa’s list. And you are so right, we’ll be the benefactors of generations of hard work, care, spirit and volunteerism that made the local schools there what they are today. Hopefully, we all strive to leave the world a little better than we found it.

  3. Keep us posted on the move! I could use tips for editing, packing, and organizing a new home. Looking forward to the next episode.

  4. Hi Dan & Vanessa!
    It’s Liz from Connecticut. I miss you guys! I miss the buzz on the Edit & Forget it Facebook page. I miss the connection with our Edit & Forget it friends too! They kept me honest!!

    I completed my year without shopping and stopped writing posts about “Creating Real Life Simplicity” on Facebook.
    Listening to your podcast, writing about my simplicity journey was the best thing ever for me.
    I was more aware and more motivated. Our kids have gone off to college and come home again….and today, it’s clear that I need to be more conscious since it’s way too easy to slip back to the American way…the unconscious state of accumulating.

    I need to be vigilant in the exercise of letting go. I realize that it’s like eating and exercise…if I’m not conscious of what I’m putting in my body/house and I’m not actively working out/throwing out, I lose my muscle and get flabby/cluttered….it can be overwhelming to start over.

    I’m getting back on board today. Hello Hefty Bags and hello Goodwill Bill! I was at Goodwill a few times a week for awhile….Bill was the lovely senior citizen volunteer who greeted me at my car….it’s time to reconnect with Goodwill Bill!

    I hope you’re doing well….treasure your family time together, traveling and camping.

  5. Hi! Organizing our garage and happened on your site…great job! When I saw Vidler’s I thought “Oh cool that’s East Aurora! Welcome Back – we also live in (and love) WNY…yup, even the winters 🙂

    • Thanks, Amy! We’re so glad to be here in WNY! Last week’s snow was a little cold on our toes as were crawled out of our teardrop camper, but our new house will be done soon. Yay! We hope you found some good organizing info!

  6. I live in a small town in New Jersey called Atlantic Highlands. A 2 square mile town. A group of families in town started something called the front porch club. They host weekly play groups for moms and kids, and monthly outings for drinks at local places. The host an annual chilifest with tons of chili entries, and live music.

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