by Susan Caplan McCarthy
Next to sentimental items, I think one of the most difficult group of items to declutter are those related to our hobbies and interests. What makes these items so challenging to evaluate with a clear mind? Think about how we talk about our hobbies – I do yoga, I’m a scrapbooker, I golf, I’m into NASCAR, I read science fiction, etc. We identify ourselves by our hobbies and interests.
But, life changes. We may consciously move away from a hobby – you take on new responsibilities at work or you have a baby and your priorities change. Or, we may unconsciously drift away from an interest. The origami club doesn’t meet over the summer and you have a conflict with the September meeting; suddenly, it’s March and you realize you no longer do origami.
Nostalgic Clutter from Hobbies and Interests
Nostalgic clutter belongs to the hobbies and interests you used to have. Again, you may have consciously or unconsciously moved away from these interests. You moved from New Hampshire to Arizona and you took you ski equipment with you, so you’d have it if you went on a ski vacation. But, that hasn’t happened.
This type of clutter is difficult to get rid of because it is connected to our memories and our identity. Gather the supplies and materials from one of these past interests. Take some photos of the items if you wish and spend time reminiscing about the months or years you spent on this activity.
Can you recall how you drifted from this interest? The thoughts may not be happy. You may be sad that you shared this hobby with someone who died or moved away. You may be angry that a change in your health or life meant that you couldn’t enjoy this pastime.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling these emotions. If the emotions feel negative, consider that releasing these hobby items can lighten your heart. You may be thinking that someday you’ll return to this interest and that if you get rid of these items, you’ll regret it. Translate “someday” into a specific date on your calendar.
If you can’t, consider that it is time to release that idea and move forward.
Aspirational Clutter from Dreams and Ideas
Aspirational clutter belongs to the hobbies and interests that you hoped would take hold but never really did. Maybe a friend was so enthusiastic about the class they took on essential oils that you decided to buy a kit with assorted oils. However, you have never taken the time to mix the oils or burn them in a diffuser.
Maybe you wanted to do yoga, or crochet, or lose weight, or decorate cakes, or bake bread, or drink freshly squeezed juice for breakfast. However, although these ideas were appealing, you were never able to carry out the activity enough times to make it a habit or learn enough about the topic to confidently consider it as one of your hobbies.
These items are difficult to let go because you may be thinking about no getting your money’s worth out of the items. However, leaving the items on a shelf or in a box on the floor of your closet doesn’t validate the items’ expense.
You may also still hold the desire to make this hobby your own. Gather up the items from one of these hobbies and consider for how long you’ve owned these items. What has changed about your life since you first thought of making this interest your own? Can you really, truly, say that you still have an interest in this activity? By donating these items, perhaps they will find a use – something you realize won’t happen with you.
Decluttering Hobbies and Interests
Few hobbies have items that stay contained in a single place. Remember to look in your closet and dresser for clothing, accessories, and costuming. Look on your bookshelves for books related to the topic. Have some items made their way into your garage, basement, or attic? Is there artwork, décor, or knickknacks that represent an interest and that you no longer feel a connection to? Do you have bookmarked webpages? Articles you’ve printed from online?
If you know people who engage in this interest, see if they’d like to purchase some of the items you are ready to let go.
By decluttering your nostalgic and aspirational clutter for hobbies you don’t engage in, you are clearing space for new interests and hobbies that reflect your life now.
What experiences have you had with decluttering the items from former hobbies and interests? Comment below.
I help people focus on what's important to them by guiding them through clearing clutter and distractions from their lives. I teach decluttering and organizing skills through articles; books; courses; speaking engagements; as well as virtual coaching sessions.