Why Am I Keeping That?

Pin It

I was recently at the passport office to renew my passport. The passport officer asked me the following question,

“Would you like to keep your passport?”

It was at that point that I had to ask,

“Why would I want to keep an expired passport?  Do people actually keep their old passport?”

PassportThe passport officer who was working with me actually laughed and said that most people do.  Little did she know what I do for a living (insert chuckle here).

She gave me the chance to flip through my passport before I made my final decision.  In the passport were stamps from various places that I had visited.  The most noticeable ones were the stamps when my husband and I travelled to South Korea. Although the stamps were pretty cool, I still decided that I was not going to keep my passport.  Honestly, what was I going to do with an expired passport?  If I had taken it, it most likely would have put it in a drawer and forgotten about it.

The question of what should I keep?’ comes up so often with clients.  Many of the items we own have some kind of personal attachment(s).  While our things and stuff have personal attachments, it just isn’t possible to keep everything.   Imagine if you kept your very first car you ever bought. Let me ask you: how many of you still own your first car?  Most likely the majority of you do not still have your first car.  Of course there will be an attachment to it; the vehicle was your first car you bought with your own money.  How special is that? If you do still have your first car – congratulations!  Truly – it’s obvious you bought a great car that is still running and working for you!

To take that same scenario into our daily lives, I typically ask the following questions in order to help make my clients choose:

 Are you able to enjoy it in your daily life?

Take my passport example.  Would I use an expired passport in my daily life?  No, but I do have great memories from our trip to South Korea!  We have a great piece of artwork hanging on our wall in our home that we brought back from South Korea.  Every time that I come through our garage and into our home, it is the artwork from Seoul that I see.  I get to enjoy that artwork every day.  And every day, I can remember the great trip we had.  Way better than shoving an expired passport into a drawer to be forgotten.

When was the last time I used it or wore it?

Are you are holding onto something that you never use?  Great grandma’s punch bowl?  A pair of jeans you hope to fit into when you loose the last 10 pounds?  A fancy dress that you wore for the Christmas party 2 years ago?  Honestly, if you haven’t used it in 12 months, the chances of you using it again are slim and none.

Will I Ever Need This?

We can convince ourselves of anything.  We can also talk ourselves into (and out) of anything.  The questions to ask yourself, and be extremely truthful are:

  1. When would I need it?  The answer of, “I might need it some day,” is not a good enough reason to keep it.  If you have a specific time you will need it, then keep it.
  2. Why would I need it? Again, this needs to be a specific reason.  The answer, “That’s a project I plan on working on.” is not good enough.  When (specifically) do you plan to work on it?
  3. Who would ask me for it?  If your worry is having someone ask you what you did with something, be proactive in this situation.   If you don’t like something that has been given to you or passed down to you, then ask family members and/or friends if they would like it.  If they don’t want it, make it known what your intention is (getting rid of it – donating it, recycling it, selling it, etc.).  Hanging on to things for this reason is adding clutter to your life.
  4. What will happen if I get rid of it? You can ask yourself: “What is the absolute worst thing that would happen if I got rid of an item?” Conjure up the ‘worst case scenario’.  Old university textbooks: what would happen if they left your home?  Probably nothing.  All the extra furniture you are keeping for the day your kids move out?  What would happen if you got rid of all of it?  Most likely they will purchase new furniture when they move out.

The simple fact is clutter can affect your health and your relationships. Stop living in the past and live for today.   Stop living for, ‘some day’, and live now.

Live in the Now

Pin It


  1. on 02.04.2013
    at 10:43 AM

    So true…I still have trouble getting rid of some (just some, not all) of my children’s art work that they did at school. I’m getting better at getting rid of the clutter but it’s the sentimentality that’s attached that makes letting go so difficult.

    • on 04.04.2013
      at 7:57 AM

      Maria – that is SO common and you are not alone with this! Here is my thought on this:
      I always ask, \”Who am I keeping this for?\” If I am keeping this for me, then what good is it doing sitting in a box/bin/container. I should find some way to display it. If that is not possible, then stick to a certain size of container and when that becomes full, then it\’s time to do a little purge. What you kept 5 years ago you may decide that it is no longer worth keeping.

      If you are keeping all of the artwork to pass onto your kids later on, you know your kids more than anyone. Being honest with yourself, would they really want it AND if they wanted it, what would they do with it? If you can truly say that your kids would enjoy it, then keep it.

  2. Karen
    on 22.04.2013
    at 7:24 PM

    Just to add to the “keeping the kids artwork” discussion. A friend of mine who is mom to twins figured out a way to keep the art work………in a smaller way. She took photos of the artwork so she could keep the ‘evidence’ of the the work and stages the kids went thru but not taking up the space of that actual artwork. Also this deals with the idea of who you are keeping the artwork for. I know when my mom presented to me my old artwork I didn’t want to keep it. However, it was neat to at least see it.
    Just food for thought.

    • on 24.04.2013
      at 7:59 AM

      Hi Karen,
      That\’s a great way to \’keep\’ all of the art work. We\’ve suggested that tip to a few families ourselves. Especially families with many children. Keeping a digital copy – instead of the real artwork – definitely helps with space (or lack of space).

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

Leave a Reply to gitcalgary