Declutter the Fantasy Self and Free Yourself to Enjoy Life

I published a video last year talking about the fantasy self items I had to declutter (or if you prefer reading, here’s the blog post), walking through all the things I had to realize and be honest with myself as I decluttered the excess in my life.

There were many comments of “Me too! We could be twins!” and there were also comments of “Why don’t you just make an effort to DO those things you fantasize about??”

So how do we figure out if it’s something we should let go of, or carve out time to pursue?

A big fantasy for me is homesteading. To provide for my family from the land we live on. The fantasy is that I will have an urban homestead – chickens, goats, fruit trees, and a garden in every square inch of dirt. (I read “Farm City” ten years ago and I LOVED it.)

But, being completely honest with myself: 

  • I hate cleaning the chicken coop (been there, done that). The smaller the coop, the more often you have to clean it.
  • We’re not allowed to have goats or pigs within city limits.
  • We don’t have the luxury of well water, so, I have to pay for watering the garden (Yes, we’re getting rain barrels, but we don’t get enough rain in Montana to water a huge space).
  • I only have a certain amount of time to tend to these things and a full homestead would take more time than I am willing to give.
  • I don’t want to move out of town.

I know it’s a fantasy because I see I am not willing to sacrifice my work (teaching minimalism) and I’m not willing to move, to follow the dream of sustainable living.

Letting go of the fantasy opens me up to enjoy more things.

You see, before, I kept garden books, canning jars, and supplies and was overwhelmed with guilt every time I saw them. Guilt for not “doing what I intended to do.” And I rarely had a garden, because my requirements were so big, it felt impossible.

Once I was honest with myself and let go of all the supplies that made me feel so bad, I now allow myself to have a garden (though MUCH smaller than “homestead” size) so I can enjoy being outside and tending it. 

I used to think that I SHOULD be able to do it all and therefore figured I must be lazy since I hadn’t done it!

But I wasn’t accounting for things – like the time it takes to raise children, the time I need to spend working and earning an income, the money it would take to build all the gardens, fences, planting trees, chicken coop, etc.

I also wasn’t considering the conditions… we have hot summers. This means if I want to work in the garden it needs to be done in the early morning or near dusk. Am I willing to get up at 6 AM every day to tend the garden? Or skip evening social plans?

So when I consider everything, I know confidently that I love the idea of urban homesteading. But I am only willing to put in the work of a small garden.

What about other fantasy things?

I let go of quilting supplies, scrapbooking supplies, stationery, cookbooks, yarn, and baking supplies.

All things that I have been drawn to at one time or another. But simplifying them made me much more intentional about the things I actually do.

I am capable of baking, and I enjoy it. But I don’t need to have cake decorating supplies and all the different-sized pans.

Letting go of all the excess meant that I could use my kitchen easier and cleanup was a breeze, so I actually ended up experimenting more often with new recipes.

I also got rid of the fantasy:

  • Of making cakes like Duff (Ace of Cakes) and embraced making simple layer cakes that taste delicious. 
  • Writing hand-written letters to family and friends and began reaching out to people in a way that was easy for me.
  • Menu planning with a plethora of cookbooks and found that I was more likely to get inspired to cook something new and actually do it.

Our fantasies are an expectation we have of ourselves, but if we take time to evaluate our interests/time/energy honestly, we know it will not actually take place.

Letting go of all those expectations, means we have the time to do other things. 

It’s amazing how much weight there is in expectations. 

Once those expectations are lifted, we’re free to take action. 

It feels easier.

Most of us that struggle with clutter are creative and capable people. It’s not hard to envision things, it’s not intimidating to start projects and we can become passionate about things fairly easily.

But just because we’re able to do so much, doesn’t mean we actually WILL do so much. Often the planning is more fun than the doing. 

But planning something is not the same as taking action on something.

  • If we don’t acknowledge how much time it’s going to take to accomplish these things we become passionate about.
  • We will end up collecting supplies needed for various projects, but end up having more than we can realistically accomplish.

Someone once told me that we’re able to have 3 hobbies at a time. We don’t have the ability to do any more than that – so pick your hobbies and stick with them.

And it’s easier to bounce from hobby to hobby when you are a minimalist if and when you set limits on yourself.

Learn calligraphy – but just buy one or 2 nice pens and paper. Don’t buy all the supplies that you COULD.

Take up gardening – but don’t require a full edible lawn.

Bake cakes – but pick cake pans that fit your needs the best and don’t buy specialty pans.

Journal every night – but don’t buy a new journal until you’ve filled the old one.

Thinking about the 3 hobbies concept…

For me, at the moment my “hobbies” are gardening and cooking. Some people wouldn’t add cooking to their list – and I probably wouldn’t either if I kept food simple. But instead, I WANT to spend time making sourdough bread and experimenting with new recipes. I WANT to make nutritious homemade food for my kids to take in their sack lunch.

If I wanted to simplify the cooking, I would do a Monday is spaghetti, Tuesday is tacos type system, which makes all the grocery shopping and daily cooking easier. And then the kids could take sandwiches every day and it would be fine.

But since I want something different than that, I’m choosing to acknowledge that cooking is one of my activities. Because it does take my time.

During the winter months, I won’t be gardening, so I can pursue other things like painting then.

But I am not physically able to work on 9 different hobbies.

It doesn’t matter if I’m capable of them all, it doesn’t matter if I would excel at them – I have a finite number of hours, and I have to decide what are the most important to me.

During this phase of my life, I want to pay attention to parenting my children, and their diet and nutrition, so I have to acknowledge that that is going to take a significant amount of my time.

I also want a garden, which takes time in watering, weeding, and harvesting. Realistically, since I’m raising children and running a business, I don’t have a lot of spare time. If I have extra time, I know it will get filled up easily with friends & family, reading books, talking walks, sitting outside or vegging in front of the TV.

Not being able to do all the “fantasy self” things doesn’t mean we’re lazy or we’re procrastinating. It means we are able to evaluate our time and be realistic with the expectations we have of ourselves.

What are the hobbies or fantasies you’ve given up?

And what are thing hobbies or activities that you decided to devote your time to?

Let me know in the comments below.

“fantasy self” things doesn’t mean we’re lazy or we’re procrastinating. It means we are able to evaluate our time and be realistic with the expectations we have of ourselves.

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube

10 Comments

  1. Catherine on 04/08/2022 at 10:29 pm

    In my humble opinion, this is one of the best articles you’ve ever written!! Crystal clear and spot on. Thank you!

  2. Astreja on 04/14/2022 at 10:51 pm

    I gave up on the fantasy that I could learn to competently play every instrument in the woodwind family, and put all my energy into getting better at clarinet. An alto sax and a flute went to good homes.

    After tripping over a box of books on the floor of an overcrowded room (an event that prompted me to start decluttering eleven years ago), gone was the fantasy of having a capital-L Library with floor-to-ceiling bookcases lining the walls. All the remaining books now have proper homes on actual shelves, and 90% of the time a book gets given away as soon as the last page is turned.

    Still holding out hope for my Fantasy Tap Dancer, though… (casts furtive glance at tap shoes in bedroom drawer)

  3. Tracy on 04/19/2022 at 11:08 am

    Enjoyed this post! I only recently came understand that I get to choose what I do with my free time. Just because my parents paid for piano lessons when I was a child doesn’t mean I have to have a piano (gathering dust as I type this) or ever play a keyboard again if I don’t want to. Mini epiphany of the week!

  4. Beth on 04/27/2022 at 1:58 pm

    I made 2 quilts this year already and started a third. Here’s the thing. I’ve always been a ” marathon” sewist. Start it and stay with it until it’s done. I mean that literally. Nothing else, just sewing. But the problem with that is, dishes do need to be washed, dinner needs to be made, so everything backs up. I’ve taught myself to sew for 2 hours a day and stop. Then catch up on chores and repeat this tomorrow.
    So far I’m successful. I also decided to take a 2 week break after I finish the next one so that this hobby stays fun.

    • Rachel Jones on 04/29/2022 at 9:42 am

      That’s so great Beth, we all need balance in our life, or it creates stress. Thanks for sharing, I’m sure that will help others to see how you’ve learned to balance hobby and home.

  5. Christine George on 04/27/2022 at 11:06 pm

    Spot on Rachel. “How you spend your time, is how you spend your life”. Such a wise saying.

  6. Debbie on 05/07/2022 at 12:36 am

    Rachel, this piece is one of your best and I love the responses of your followers! It certainly gives me food for thought as to prioritizing my active interests so that what I keep reflects those favorites! I also like the idea of scheduling a finite time for sewing or whatever so that I get a chance to accomplish something but that I also attend to my must dos! Thanks so very much!💗

    • Rachel Jones on 05/09/2022 at 10:20 am

      Thank you Debbie! ❤️

  7. Johanna on 06/11/2022 at 10:59 pm

    I just gave up the fantasy of having a perfect library; 100 books and 50 CDs are leaving.

    Also leaving are all the crafting supplies… Sequins, beads, pearls, thread, fabric, buttons, notions etc. Someone else will make good use of them Now.

  8. Cathy on 06/12/2022 at 6:59 am

    I love this post. Craft supplies are an ongoing issue that I’ve been starting to address recently. I gave some unopened embossing powders away recently. The lady who collected them was very happy but questioned why I was giving them away. I don’t know how many years they had been in my stash, but I’d never used them, and I have realised I much prefer sewing. I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned on my journey to a simpler life is that the money has been spent but that doesn’t mean I have to hold onto things forever. Forgiveness of past spending is an important part of moving forward.
    Thanks so much for all your advice!

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