Aspirational Clutter
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Virginia Wells

Letting Go of Aspirational Clutter

Aspirational clutter is another type of clutter that you may have in your home. The definition of aspirational clutter is the things you’ve acquired over the years that represent the person you want to be (or return to being). Perhaps you bought supplies for a craft or hobby you were interested in doing. Or you’re keeping items from a hobby you no longer do but “might get back to one day”. These things are ‘aspirational clutter’. It’s an interesting type of clutter because these things that are lying around but are not being used. They are there because of the promise of an end goal, of what they might do for us. I talked about this in Can’t Get Rid of Stuff? What is it Promising You? This is similar. Let me explain further with some more examples.

Types of Aspirational Clutter


There could be books on your shelf that are a representation of who you want to become and the skills you would like to develop. They might teach you skills you hope will make you a better version of yourself. Self-help books might fall into this category. There might be educational books to help get started on a new path, such as a business, “someday”. You might even just have books on your bookshelf so that people who see them think of you in a certain way.

Sport Equipment

Perhaps you have a tennis racket in the cupboard because you want to learn how to play. You might want to get into tennis for the social network of the tennis club. The racquet represents those social elements too.

Notebooks and Journals

You, like many people, might have notebooks and journals on the shelf unused. What are these promising? Perhaps your aspiration to be organised or to have time for reflection and to create a fulfilling future for yourself.

Kids’ Stuff

Aspiration clutter might also include things that you’re keeping for your kids because of the parent you aspire to be or your beliefs about what your children should be using and playing with. This might equally apply to other people in your household or another family member. You might be keeping things because you think they ‘should’ be interested in them.


Yes, clothes can be aspirational clutter too. You know that dress you wore to your friend’s wedding ten years ago that no longer fits but you’ll ‘some day’ wear again? Aspirational clutter.

Reality Check

When push comes to shove, however, will you actually book a tennis lesson? Will your kids play with those ‘educational’ toys? When you think about reading that particular book, will there be something more important or more interesting to do? The reality is these items will continue to sit there ignored.

How to move on aspirational clutter

Okay, now you know what aspirational clutter is, what will you do with these items? If you’re a regular reader of the blog, the answers won’t come as a surprise because the tips I’m about to give you are similar to those I give for all decluttering.


Firstly, take some time to journal, or simply sit with a cuppa and reflect, on why you’re keeping these things. Are you in fact going to follow through with the aspirations and dreams these items represent? Do you want to follow through on these activities or become that person? If, after reflection, you find that the answer is actually “no” (perhaps your interests have changed or, although you’d like to do them, you’re not likely to find the time) you may feel comfortable letting the items go and making space in your house and life for something else.


Other times, you might need a bit of a reality check. If you have so much aspirational clutter that you’re feeling overwhelmed, it might be getting in the way of working out what really matters to you. Sitting down and having a serious chat with yourself may be necessary. What do you really have time for? Which are you most likely to follow through on? What is most important to you? Prioritise where you most want to dedicate your time and energy.


I love Emily McCermott’s ‘antidote’ to aspirational clutter – self-acceptance.

“Aspirational clutter is the physical manifestation of the tension between accepting who we are today and wanting something different from our lives in the future.”

Emily McDermott from Rich in What Matters

What aspirational clutter is, in fact, is a piece of your would-be identity. Letting that go is hard but it comes down to accepting yourself as the unique person you are right now. It doesn’t mean you won’t grow and change but holding on to all these items of aspirational clutter is stopping you from ‘being’ who you are right now.

What can you identify in your home as aspirational clutter? Pop over to the WellSorted Facebook group and tell us what identity it represents for you.

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