It’s Moving

Many of us feel sorry for ourselves and others when faced with the sorting, packing, and all the seemingly endless details of moving. We try to stay positive and endure. But when it is over, we vow we’ll never move again if we can help it.

But moving doesn’t have to be unpleasant. No matter who you are, if you’re getting ready to move your household, a wonderful opportunity awaits you. Contrary to popular belief, moving does not have to be a major trauma; it can be a positive experience.

To those already braced for a terrible time when they move, I would like to offer you two thoughts: First, that moving—like most things in life—is what you make it. And, second, not only can you make moving a golden opportunity for personal development and advancement–an adventure. Though I can almost guarantee you that some things will  go differently than planned—”the best laid plans of mice and men” stuff—those apparent glitches can be seen as challenges of our creativity or tests for our sense of humor.

Adventure and growth come from seeing our move as both time to purge ourselves of the past and to embrace the new; a time to let go of the things we no longer want and to re-evaluate our lifestyle. It is a time to make necessary changes that bring our lives up-to-date with who we are now and who we hope to be.

Adjust Your Attitude

The very first thing to deal with when you decide to move or find out that you are being transferred is your attitude. Are you filled with dread and horror? Do you find yourself discussing moving miseries or moving madness with everyone you talk to? STOP wherever you are when you realize you are doing this and take stock of yourself. Remind yourself that, by giving voice to a stream of negativity, you are in the process of creating a difficult move.

To help you sort out your thoughts and feelings about moving, let’s think. What is really terrible about moving?

  1. It is true that possessions do not move themselves.
  2. Everything that we didn’t want to deal with, and just stuffed in a drawer or closet, will now be paraded one-by-one before our eyes, causing us to feel guilty, incompetent, and defensive by turns.
  3. All those postponed decisions, unread magazines, and unfinished projects will need to be reconsidered.
  4. That can of paint that leaked and is stuck to the shelf will need to be pried loose and cleaned up.

In sum, all your “stuff” will have to be sorted and packed and transported to your new address, then unpacked and put away…or left sitting around in boxes causing box depression (a malady caused by wondering what’s in those boxes you can’t seem to get around to opening—that are all marked “miscellaneous”).

I realize you may think I’m crazy to suggest that all this is anything but trial and tribulation. But what I am suggesting is this: Moving is an OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE. And though change may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, it will be a lot worse if you insist on resisting it. Change is going to happen, whether you cooperate or not. That’s life.

Begin the Process

So how can you best “get with the program”? To soften separation anxiety, take pictures of your rooms and belongings before you begin to take things apart. If you have been blessed with ample warning that a move is headed your way, begin by going through your entire living quarters. Step into the room, and move systematically to your right, closet by closet, shelf by shelf, and drawer by drawer, till you’re back at the spot where you entered. As you do, decide what you want to keep, what you want to get rid of, and how to get rid of what you need to let go.

Pace yourself to avoid fatigue. If you overdo and tire yourself, you’ll avoid keeping with the program and end up with everything to do at the last minute without the time and energy to do it well.

As you proceed, keep a notebook with pockets (for stray papers and tiny tidbits). Make notes to yourself about things that need to be taken care of, calls to be made, and things you will need to remember to do. It’s helpful to have one page for each category, i.e., CALLS TO MAKE, TO DO (in house), ERRANDS, and MOVING EXPENSES.

When you sort through your “stuff” you will be doing two distinct things:

  1. Putting things you want to keep in like categories in designated places in your house. By doing this, you will know exactly what you have and like things will be packed and unpacked together.
  2. Separating out the things you want to let go. These will fit into four categories: GIVEAWAY, THROW AWAY, SELL, and RETURN. It is helpful if you have a container for each of these categories with you as you sort.

All this sorting and planning takes time, but the time invested in preparing for your move will pay off greatly in the end.

Get Help

It is the tight relationship between the time available to do things and the number of things to be done that can make moving a stressful experience. So what if you don’t have a lot of warning? The actual procedure is the same, but you need to enlist the assistance of friends, family, and professionals to do the things that don’t require your personal attention.

In a short-notice move, the first thing to do is sit down and brainstorm exactly what needs to happen at both ends of the move to make it successful. Write and circle the word MOVE in the center of a large piece of paper. Then write tasks at the end of spokes radiating out from that circle. Utilities need to be turned off and on; your plants and pets need care and carting, or new homes; stuff needs to be put in storage or disposed of; packing boxes or professional packers will need to be arranged for; a systematic approach needs to be taken to closets, drawers, and shelves.

List each category on its own page in you Move Notebook, and make a written first attempt at deciding how to handle each. How many options can you think of for each? These notes will help you later—if Plan A falls through, you’ll know you have alternatives and won’t feel so freaky when someone you are depending on let’s you down.

For example, someone could care for your plants and pets while you concentrate on sorting, packing, and cleaning. Friends could take things to Good Will, to the dump, or to be repaired. Friends or relatives could make information-gathering phone calls for you, ensure that you have regular meals, baby-sit, screen phone calls, shop, or pack things you know you’re taking with you.

Whether your time is great or limited, your move long distance or around the corner, your possessions vast or modest, we all need to pay attention to our needs for eating and sleeping during the actual move. Be sure to separate out bedding, dishes, glasses and utensils, and some food and drinks you will need immediately upon arriving at your new home. Boldly label the boxes OPEN FIRST and list the contents of each box. Make sure you and your movers keep these boxes and/or bags easily accessible. Take them in the car with you, or put them on the truck last so they can be taken off first. When you arrive, unpack you basic kitchen boxes and make the beds as soon as possible.

An extremely important thing to remember as you move is that there is an entire industry available to assist you in making your move go smoothly—moving companies, organizing consultants, relocation specialists, etc. You may want to take advantage of the helpful services these providers offer.

And as you plan, remember to make your move a priority—not an afterthought. It will make all the difference. Now you are ready, so relax, be sure to laugh as much as possible, and accept the challenge of making this move the best one ever.

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Florence Feldman

Florence Feldman was a single mother and is now a grandmother of four, she was a caregiver for her mother who had dementia, and is a cancer survivor. As a professional organizing consultant for 40-years, she helped others find freedom through organization. When she was 68, she produced an award-winning documentary that offered encouragement to thousands of caregivers. As a speaker, she has delighted audiences by addressing sensitive topics with candor and humor.