Have you been holding onto things waiting for when life changes? While it’s true that life is constantly moving, it’s also true that often we hang onto things for too long. Now is the time to let go of what-if and someday clutter.
We’ll look at the common types of what-if and someday clutter that people keep, discuss why they should be let go, and what kinds of items do make sense to hold onto.
Types of what-if and someday clutter
What is what-if and someday clutter anyway? Here are common examples I have seen of what-if and someday clutter.
1. Clothes that do not fit
These clothes are for someday when you lose the weight. What if I start keto tomorrow and these clothes are the perfect size in 2 weeks?
While there are seasons in life when the body changes a lot like pregnancy and even perhaps quarantine, your clothes should be a reflection of your size and style now.
Hanging onto clothes that you wish you fit into, but don’t isn’t motivating. It’s defeating. Your clothes should make you feel confident now, not in an imagined future.
If you are in a time when your body is changing sizes, go ahead and pack up the too-small items in a box and write a date on it within the next year.
If you go to grab that box and the items fit in that time period, great. Should that not be the case, then gift or donate them.
2. Home decor for another life stage
When you have young children your home decor may suddenly be located higher up or get packed away for a period of time. If you truly love those items and plan to use them again, it’s fine to pack them up or put them aside for a period of time. Kids do grow up.
However, if you are saving home decor items for a home or a life that you don’t have, it’s time to examine that.
In working with one of my clients, I discovered she had been keeping large amounts of fabric and linens. She’d hoped to sew pillow covers and curtains and to use it all in her home after she got married.
But, she didn’t get married and she’d filled her apartment with things she didn’t have space for hoping for a life she didn’t have. It was sad and I’m sure painful for her to let those things go because of what it represented.
What-if and someday clutter shouldn’t keep you from the life you are living right now.
3. Things to use in the next house
I have been guilty of this one. We moved a few times early in our marriage and each time my kitchen got smaller. I stuffed my cabinets full and left the rest packed up in the garage.
The problem is we are still in that same rental house with the small kitchen over six years later. A couple of years ago, I realized if those items were still packed up in the garage, I didn’t need them in this house or in any future one either.
I decluttered the kitchen so that the cabinets weren’t so full. It gave the things I actually use more breathing room. I felt lighter as I let go and got it out of the way.
I stopped letting it take up precious space in my home and life that I’m living now.
This type of what-if and someday clutter can also be furniture that gets stored. The items you have in your garage or storage space waiting for the next house when it will fit.
I once heard about a woman who had paid for a storage unit for many years for her childhood bedroom furniture. She ended up spending thousands of dollars storing something she never used again.
4. Hobby items for when you have time
Hobbies and interests can change over time. I certainly know mine have. Some of my interests in the last eight years have been photography, sewing, crafting, DIY projects, and furniture rehab.
Each of those interests came with quite a bit of supplies, with some taking up more space than others. For many people, hobbies are temporary and not life long interests.
You could be holding onto those items for what-if I like that activity again later or someday when I have more time. Although there are seasons in life that are more demanding than others, we tend to make time for what’s most important to us.
Granted we’ve had an unusual amount of time at home lately, so perhaps you’ve been able to make time for some of your previous hobbies. If you haven’t though, if not now then when?
5. Items you think you may want later
This is a big reason why people keep clutter. What if you decide you want that item later?
Of course, there is a small chance that this item you haven’t used in years may be something you’d want later, but holding onto what-if and someday clutter isn’t worth what it costs you.
The odds of wanting something you haven’t used or needed in an extended period of time is pretty slim. You could fill your home with what-ifs this way.
When you know yourself and what clutter is to you, it gets easier to identify what you’d actually want later and what can go.
6. The broken thing you think you’ll fix
Do you have a habit of holding onto things that you think you’ll fix or repair later? I know someone in my house who is guilty of this.
Said person wanted to keep the instant water pot we received as a wedding gift a decade prior when it died on us. This individual thought that once we bought a soldering iron (which we haven’t) that this item could be taken apart and put back together.
Another example is a lamp that broke and we could not find the part for and yet in the garage it stayed because we spent money on that and surely we will some day find that part.
Maybe it could be a piece of furniture that just needs to be glued or stapled. Some of these could be easily completed, but people tend to procrastinate. If that’s your situation, go ahead and get it done or schedule a time soon to take care of it.
If your repair item takes additional supplies you’d never use for anything else or the job feels far beyond your skillset, it’s time to let go of this what-if and someday clutter.
7. Family heirlooms or other trinkets for your kids
What one may consider a ‘family heirloom’ may not be considered a family heirloom to others. The trinkets that you’ve decided your kids will want when you’re gone may not actually be things that they want.
A person in my extended family is a saver. This person is convinced that my sister and I will want items that were my grandmother’s. However, neither of us want it.
We’ve gently communicated that and yet they hold onto these items and continue to store them. It can be really challenging to let go of sentimental items.
If you want to keep select items because they are meaningful to you, that’s fine. However, keeping an attic full of ‘treasures’ for someday or what-if your kids change their mind doesn’t help anyone.
8. That thing you’re afraid you’ll regret letting go of
Decluttering is an emotional process. There are a variety of feelings that play into why we keep things and that can hamper decluttering.
Fear plays a big role in why people keep clutter. The what-ifs can take hold and become paralyzing.
Making decisions becomes more challenging when you continue to second guess yourself or create worst case scenarios. This type of thinking gives your stuff too much power in your life.
In the end, it is just stuff and it’s meant to better your life, not to cause stress and overwhelm.
Let go of the fear as you realistically evaluate your item’s place in your life. Own your decisions and feel the freedom that comes from letting go.
Why let go of what-if and someday clutter?
What-if and someday clutter keeps you focused on imagined scenarios and doesn’t embrace the life that you are living now.
Life is meant to be lived. You’re not fully living in the present when your home is full of things that don’t fit or belong as you wait for the future.
We don’t always know where life will take us. That’s not a reason to hold tightly onto everything we own. It’s a reason to open our hands and let life come as it may and embrace the seasons we are in.
People often rush through life stages waiting for the next one. I know I’ve been guilty of this. When I had a newborn I wished for the toddler phase when I could sleep again. When I was single I wished to be married.
The problem with constantly focusing forward is that it takes away from the joys to be experienced now. This fantasizing about that ‘ideal’ time in life when everything will feel perfect is also completely inaccurate.
Every season has its challenges and also its benefits. There is no perfect so don’t set up that expectation.
I love setting goals for the future and I’ve created a few dream boards, but it’s important to not let that take away from the present. Being too forward-thinking makes me forget how far I’ve come and all the good things about the here and now.
Intentional living is about being present in your life now. That means owning things that support your life now.
Kinds of what-if and someday items that make sense
As I write this, we are still quarantining. If a global pandemic doesn’t show you what’s truly important and what isn’t then I don’t know what does!
Even as you simplify and let go of the what-if and someday clutter, there are practical things that it makes sense to keep stocked in your home. How many people wish that back in March they’d had a bit more toilet paper stored in their home?
Keeping emergency supplies on hand is always a good idea. That’s a smart what-if scenario to be prepared for. Keep extra shelf-stable food, water, and first aid supplies stored in your home.
You’ll have greater peace of mind by being well prepared for emergencies. You also don’t need to get rid of back up supplies you have such as soap, toiletries, and paper products. If those are still products you like and use, then someday will come soon enough.
Letting go of what-if and someday clutter is about enjoying your life now, but also being practical. Don’t hold onto things for the wrong reasons, but also don’t feel bad keeping what you know you will use or enjoy.
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