Why We Have Too Much "Stuff" - Part 1 - Aspirational Objects

Do you own or purchase items that represent the person you want to be rather than honoring your current position? 

Lately the idea of excess belongings has been on my mind. What's the how and why behind the objects we tend to accumulate? As I have thought about this topic I've come to the conclusion that excess items in our lives most often fall into three categories - (1) objects that represent the person you want to be, (2) the person you used to be, or (3) objects that have a strong emotional pull. In part one of this post I'm sharing my thoughts on aspirational belongings - objects that represent the person you want to be.

Aspirational Belongings - Objects that Represent the Person You Want to Be
Do you aspire to be a person that entertains, one that makes exercise a consistent routine, or one that cooks dinner every night? New habits are hard to implement so we find ourselves looking for a quick fix to fulfill these lifestyle aspirations. We might purchase a set of fancy barware or the latest kitchen gadget. These items provide an instant ping of excitement that you are headed in the right direction. And for some, they are a good sign. The desire to use these items may actually spur you to invite friends over or work on your culinary genius, but if you don't have the solid intention of performing this activity, and most importantly, a plan as to how you are going to implement, these items often sit gathering dust in the home.

If you find yourself acquiring aspirational objects, here are some tips to consider before the purchase to ensure that they are actually used.

 Fabric by Lee Jofa

Fabric by Lee Jofa

1. Consider how you currently live and get super specific on what you want and why. For example, if you want to cook dinner every night - what are you after? A healthy meal, a chance to slow down at the end of a hectic day, time to reconnect with your spouse or family? What are some behaviors you could work toward? You could aim to prep one or two healthy meals on Sunday so prep is minimal during the week or you could agree that all family members are home one night a week to do an activity together, even if it is quick. Do you really need to purchase something? Or is there a behavioral shift you could make to achieve the same feeling or outcome through different routes?

2. If you do decide to purchase something new, get specific on how you are going to use the item.  For example, once you purchase new tableware for entertaining, set a date with friends for a gathering. Make it a goal to invite friends or family over once a month. Do whatever works best for you, but make a plan.

3. Set the routine to achieve the desired results and then treat yourself once you get in the flow. This is the dangling carrot theory. You don't need the latest gear to get going on an exercise plan. Allow yourself a treat such as a stylish workout ensemble after making it to the gym for a certain number of days. You'll find yourself buying less and using more of what you have.

So what do you do if you find yourself with a pile of aspiration purchases? I always like to remind myself that awareness is the first step in making a change. If you don't acknowledge that you are either buying or holding on to items that don't actually serve your lifestyle you won't be able to start to make the changes necessary to discontinue the cycle. Stay tuned for part two where I will discuss items that represent the person you used to be, another source of excess "stuff" in our lives.

In the meantime, I'd love to know, are you an aspirational purchaser? What have you've purchased? Do you use these items?  If not, how does that make you feel to have them sitting around the house? If you don't fall into this category what keeps you from accumulating aspirational items?