Decluttering Cure

Removing This One Type of Clutter from Your Life Is an Act of Self-Love

published Sep 17, 2020
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Credit: Lula Poggi

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I’ve been writing professionally about clutter for more than a decade now, but that doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. In fact, earlier this year, I had my eyes opened to a category of clutter that I never knew existed. Well, I know this clutter exists the same way I know popliteal fossae exist: I have some, but I never knew it had a name. (The “popliteal fossa” is a kneepit, by the way.)

This new-to-me clutter category is aspirational clutter.

Richa Goel wrote about aspirational clutter for The Financial Diet, detailing how she acquired lots of things—clothes, equipment, books—for an fantasy version of herself. Aspirations are great, of course, but not if they come with baggage. Goel decided to part with some of her aspirational clutter after realizing that she wasn’t hanging onto tools that served her, but instead, those things were just constant reminders of ways that her current self wasn’t shaping up against the fantasy of who she wanted to be.

Decluttering Tip: Aspirational clutter is anything you’re keeping for a future version of yourself. Clear it out if you need more mental or physical space for who you are right now.

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Goel summed it up nicely: “My point is to develop awareness and let go of other things so I can make space for my true dreams and turn them into reality.”

So that’s our goal today…

Day 10: Work through some of your aspirational clutter.

This task is, ultimately, deeply personal. I think the best way to go about this is to do a walkthrough of your normal morning or evening routine (as normal as it is these days). Open your usual cabinets, walk through the usual spaces, maybe go fake-searching for something you might have fake-misplaced that morning. But do it all with your mind poised to identify if there’s any aspirational clutter getting in your way, mentally or physically.

Aspirational clutter is defined by two criteria:

  1. These are idle things you’re keeping only for a future version of yourself, and…
  2. They’re things that create an obstacle for you today, whether that’s taking up much-needed space or digging at your self-esteem

The guitar you hang on the wall and pick up every once in a while to practice your plucking is not aspirational clutter. But a dusty yoga mat that you have to nudge out of the way every time you reach for your favorite jeans is aspirational clutter.

When you come across anything that feels more like the latter, just confidently carry it over to your donation box from day one. Or, if you’re really finding it really hard to part with, put it in the “maybes” box—that’s what that’s there for, after all. Just take that effort to remove aspirational clutter from your life, a little bit at a time. Then see if you don’t feel better with those things out of sight and out of mind.

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