5 Things The “New You” Doesn’t Need (And 5 Things You Do)

published Aug 27, 2018
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

In the end, decluttering is generally pretty satisfying. But in the process? It can be an emotional, guilt-ridden and stressful situation. You want your home to be a positive space, but if you’re holding onto things that you really don’t need, or even things that actively make you feel bad, it’s time to let go. It’s time to invest in and focus on the things that do make you happy.

If you’re ready to pare down a little, here’s what you should get rid of—and what to replace it with or look for instead.

Art and decor that no longer speaks to you

The art you have in your home can have a big impact on how you feel, so it’s important to surround yourself with pieces that make you feel positively. You want the art and decor in your home to be an inspiring and relaxing place, and if your art doesn’t feel like the best representation of that for you (maybe it has bad memories attached, or maybe it just doesn’t suit your personality anymore) then it’s time to ditch it. Donate it, sell it or give it to friends who will appreciate it, but don’t hold onto it if it doesn’t speak to you anymore.

What to look for instead:

Swap out your old pieces for art that makes you smile, that reminds you of good times, that represents your tastes and personality better, and that motivates you to be your best self. Look for local or independent artists to buy from—or even pick stuff up on your travels if you’re a frequent jetsetter—so you can get pieces that are more unique and special that will make your home feel like the home you really want it to be.

(Image credit: Julia Steele)

Clothes that don’t fit—or don’t make you feel your best

For many people, clothes are the hardest thing to get rid of, and it makes sense—your clothes make up a big part of how you present yourself to the world, and in many ways they can feel like a part of your personality. But holding on to clothes that no longer fit you or that you never wear because they don’t make you feel good about yourself won’t do you much good—it takes up space that you could be dedicating to a wardrobe you genuinely love, and it just puts pressure on you to change yourself to fit the expectations of your past self. The only clothes you need to hold onto are clothes that fit—and make you feel amazing about—the body you have now. Anything else is doing yourself a disservice. And the clothes you no longer need can go to a good cause—just bring them to your local donation center.

What to look for instead:

Getting rid of the clothes that no longer fit you or make you happy is only the first step—it’s easy to fall back into a pattern of buying things that don’t really make you happy. This is your chance to be a more thoughtful shopper, so ask yourself questions when you try on new clothes—assess how each piece fits and makes you feel before you buy it. If it doesn’t represent you the way you want it to, move on to something that does.

(Image credit: Alicia Macias)

Things you only keep because you feel guilty letting go

We’ve all held onto things we don’t need just because we feel guilty about getting rid of them—gifts, for example, can be a huge emotional burden. You want to hold onto it because it has sentimental value because you love the person who gave it to you, and you might even be worried that getting rid of it will hurt their feelings. But the truth is, it’s likely they won’t even notice—and if you really don’t want or use it, you shouldn’t hold onto it. Again, donating or gifting (re-gifting doesn’t have to be a bad thing!) to friends who will get use out of it is probably your best bet.

What to look for instead:

Rather than holding onto things just to make other people happy, invest in making yourself happy—swap out unwanted gifts and other items for items that make you a better, more content you. Think hobby-related things (if you’ve always wanted to learn a new one, now’s your chance!) and books that support your goals. Rid yourself of all that guilt and focus on positive things instead.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Broken things you planned to fix but never got around to

How many times have you thought “oh, I’ll repair this next weekend” when something in your home breaks, only for next weekend to come and go without a fix? If you’re keeping stuff that’s broken around in the hopes that you’ll restore it, but you know yourself and you know you’ll never really get around to it, take that pressure off yourself. Unless it’s something irreplaceable (in which case, you can probably have a professional fix it for you if you won’t get to it yourself), give yourself permission to let it go. Check if it’s something that can be recycled or donated, and get rid of it.

What to look for instead:

If you know yourself and know you’re never going to get around to fixing something but it’s still something you want or need, replace it (and with an upgraded, higher-quality version to avoid it breaking again in the future, if possible). If not, save your money for the things you will actually need in the future.

(Image credit: Emily Billings)

Anything from an old relationship with bad memories attached

I say this as someone who forgot she had old relationship memorabilia saved and recently came across it while cleaning—if you’ve got bad memories attached to an old relationship and are still holding onto things from that part of your past, letting go is one of the most freeing things you can do. Finding it, on the other hand, is pretty jarring—getting rid of it may feel like a process that’s too emotional to deal with, but future you will thank current you for getting it over with. You don’t need anything in your home—even hidden away in a box—that will only make you upset. If it doesn’t serve you a positive purpose, out it goes.

What to look for instead:

When you’ve gotten rid of all the old traces of the people who have hurt you, replace old photos with new ones of good memories you have with the people you love. Find a way to preserve or display memorabilia you actually want to hold onto—you kept your ex’s stuff in a shoebox in the back of the closet, so put the stuff you actually want to keep forever in a frame or a keepsake box where it’ll stay safe.