I have a tattered, old, red, pocket folder that I’ve kept recipes in for years. I clean it out every now and then, but always hang onto a few recipes for “someday.”
Yet, someday never comes.
When I’m on the hunt for a new recipe, my default is to go online. I never think about reaching for my red folder.
So why have I kept it for so long? Well, because I just might need one of the recipes someday.
I might finally decide to make one of them.
Even though history has clearly told me otherwise.
Ah, the old “I Might Need this Someday” (IMNTS) syndrome. I’m sure you’re familiar with it.
My rule of thumb — “If you don’t love it, need it, or use it, it’s clutter” — tells me it’s time to get rid of it and its contents. But there it sits. In my drawer. Getting caught on my desk every time I open or close the drawer.
Not only do I not love, need, or use it, but it drives me nuts!
So why do I really keep it? That’s the million dollar question for any clutter we know we don’t want but still hang on to. And that’s what I need to ask to dig below the surface.
Here’s what I came up with…
The recipes in this folder hold the promise of me becoming a “power smoothie every day” person.
It tricks me into thinking I’m gonna change to a plant-based diet tomorrow.
It helps me feel less wasteful for buying that kitchen gadget that I never use (but might!)
And by keeping these recipes, I can tell myself that I am doing great things for my health without actually making the smoothies or meals.
Because, you know, I can make them whenever I want.
Do you see the dance that happens with “I Might Need This Someday” thinking? It doesn’t speak to who you are today and instead kinda beats you up for who you’re not.
Whether it’s an obscure kitchen gadget you swear you’ll use or an outdated dress that you’re sure the perfect occasion will arise for, what’s really stopping you from hanging on to the “maybes”?
Ask yourself this question: If I got rid of something I might need someday, and that day came, and I did, in fact, need it, what would I do? How would I handle that situation?
Chances are you’d get your hands on another one, whether you borrow or buy it.
While that answer seems simplistic, by never taking your thinking beyond “I might need this someday” and letting that line of thought dictate your decision, you send yourself a message that you’d be rendered helpless; that you’re not capable of figuring a situation out; that you’re not resourceful.
Or if the item was something that you didn’t necessarily “use” but loved at one time and might regret getting rid of, do you love yourself enough to forgive yourself?
Are you so used to berating yourself that you can’t possibly risk making the seemingly “wrong” decision?
Are there some things that legitimately fit in the “just in case” category? Sure.
I mean, it’s always good to have an adhesive bandage on hand should you cut yourself, but keeping that stack of magazines just in case you’ll look through them someday is hanging onto clutter.
A handy tip I use is to pay attention to my behavior when deciding what to keep. Let the tools or items you own be driven by your behavior and not the other way around. Like my recipe folder. My behavior is to go online, so why keep the paper recipes?
By keeping lots of things you think you might need, you often make life harder for yourself. Instead, buying what you need when you need it is often much easier to do.
When I see Melissa digging through buckets of screws to find ones that might fit for a project she’s working on, I shake my head thinking of the time and aggravation she could save by spending the couple bucks to get the perfect ones. (I’ve yet to convert her!)
So the next time you’re struggling with IMNTS Syndrome, check out the story you’re telling yourself. Might you really use it someday? What would it mean if you decided to get rid of it? Then work on that clutter.
As you do, let this affirmation help guide you: I trust myself to sort out any problems when they arise.