Episode 153 | January 29, 2019

Simplify Your Life with Courtney Carver


A Personal Note from Orion

Einstein, Steve Jobs, and former President Obama all had one thing in common that enhanced their ability to be powerful changemakers: they wore the same clothing almost every single day. By eliminating the one decision each morning of what to wear, they had one less thing to ‘worry’ about each day, and could instead save their decision making power for the important things in life.

Such is the power of a de-cluttered closet, and a de-cluttered mind. Minimalism is a hot topic these days, and following this practice can not only save you money and give you a peace of mind, it can also improve your health and your mindset in a way that reflects in your career or business.  

My guest today teaches the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our personal and professional lives. Courtney Carver started living a simplified life after receiving a devastating diagnosis in 2006, and wanting to live the rest of her life away from the stress and toxicity that builds up when we have clutter. Tune in to start your path towards a minimalist lifestyle on this week’s episode.

 

 

About Today’s Show

Soulful Simplicity: How Living with Less can Lead to So Much More

Hello and welcome to Stellar Life podcast. I’m here with Courtney Carver. She changed her life by simplifying it after a devastating diagnosis in 2006. She is the founder of the bemorewithless.com and Minimalist Fashion Challenge Project 333 and the author of Soulful Simplicity. Courtney teaches the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our personal and professional lives. Hello, Courtney. Welcome.

Hi! Thanks for having me.

Before we start, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure. I am an author and I talk a lot about simplicity. I would consider myself a simplicity advocate. I simplified my life over many years after, as you mentioned, a diagnosis that really forever changed my life in 2006. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and this came on the heels of months and months of crazy deadlines and travel and volunteer work and just doing all the things. I was very busy, very stressed out, very deep in debt, but thought that I was kind of living the American dream. I was just trying to keep up with everything that life was throwing at me and it was too much. After this diagnosis, I decided to change things. I really wanted to figure out how to live well with MS. Through all of my research, I discovered I needed to stop running at this unsustainable pace and eliminate some of the stress from my life, and that’s what I decided to do. In doing so, I realized that in removing all the stress, what I was really doing was simplifying every area of my life.

That is so cool because I just feel like, especially in my life, there is so much to do and so much that I want to do, and as I said, I love life. When I was younger, my mom used to make fun of me because I said, “Mom, I don’t want to go to sleep because I really want to experience life to the fullest.” Then I’m older, I’m like, “Ugh, I need my sleep and I need my rest and I need to simplify.”

That’s the thing is that when we overwhelm ourselves with too much, we don’t get to do the things that we want to do and we don’t really get to embrace life or even notice that because we’re tired, distracted, and just overwhelmed.

Life is not about having more choice, it’s just about being clear on what you want. Click To Tweet

What type of things did you do to simplify? What was your first steps?

I started with my diet and really looking at the things that were causing stress in my body. I thought by changing the food I was eating, that will probably make the biggest differences into how I felt. First and foremost, I had to take care of myself before I looked into any other direction which is something I had neglected for so many years. I always thought, “I don’t have time to do that.” Or, “That’s selfish. I have to take care of everything and everyone else.” But I was kind of at a critical point where even my neurologist told me, “You’re standing at the edge of a cliff. If things don’t change, you’re going to fall off the cliff in terms of disease and health decline.” Focusing on the foods I was eating and how I was feeding my body–that was the first area that I simplified.

And then next I looked at what’s the next most stressful thing in my life? For me the answer was debt and owing cash, car loans, and student loans, credit card debt, medical bills, whatever there was, I wanted to get rid of it. I was really sick of that weighing me down so I, with my husband, put together our plan and over the course of a few years we paid up all of our debt which was tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of thousands if you include our house. While we were paying off debt, of course I wasn’t spending the way I normally was spending, so I noticed that because we weren’t bringing things in, it was a great time to look at the stress that my environment was providing and the clutter in my home. All that stuff that I thought wasn’t stressful, but it was a clear reminder of my debt and discontent. That I was always purchasing new things to be more successful or be happy or not be bored–there was always a reason I needed something new and a lot of it just sat and went unnoticed–like much of the stuff in our homes do. I started to pare down and get rid of the stuff that wasn’t adding true value to my life.

Well, I want to talk to you about that because I saw some videos of yours and you talked about your wardrobe and you have a little clip where you were onstage and maybe you had 10 items there and you’re like, “This is the wardrobe I brought with me for a week. By the way, this is what I wore for the last three months.” I looked at it and I was like yeah, I’ll never ever be able to do that.

I’m really glad you said that because that’s often the reaction, “I could never do that.”

The Project 333 challenge is to dress with 33 items or less for three months including clothes, jewelry, shoes, and accessories.

But you know what, I also don’t know if I want to do it because I like colors and I like textures and I like variety. I have my belly dancing gear, and my pole dancing gear, and my martial art gear–all my hobbies. Like my going out to festivals wear, my business attire that I wear when I go to conferences, my spiritual long dresses when I go to a yoga gathering or something like that. There are so many categories of the things that I do in my life and I have different outfits for all of them. My closet is full and I’m like, “I don’t have anything to wear.”

Really what you just shared is all the reasons that you don’t want to try this and all the reasons that you should.

I don’t know. If I only have business attire, what would I wear to my beach yoga?

Well, here’s the thing. We didn’t really clarify but what we’re talking about is that Minimalist Fashion Challenge Project 333 which is what I use to simplify my closet because it was just jam packed. I used to do the same thing that you said. Like I get in there and think, “I have nothing to wear.” Meanwhile, I had everything to wear. There was so much that it was hard to make a decision. I was probably wearing the same things over and over again anyway like many of us do. I still had to face all of that excess. This idea of creating a challenge where I didn’t have to commit to a lifetime of getting rid of all my stuff but just to see what it would be like to dress with less was really appealing to me so that I could get some information and more clarity on what I really wanted and needed in my closet. I decided to dress with 33 items or less for three months including clothes, jewelry, shoes, and accessories.

Oh my god.

I know. It sounds scary but some things don’t count like workout clothes don’t count as long as your workout clothes are working out. Underwear, sleep wear, lounge wear, stuff you might wear around the house, those don’t count. You could look at the next three months for instance and see what you have coming up and include the things that you’re going to need but instead of having maybe 12 outfits for a festival or something like that, you might only have one. Some of the other things you mentioned wouldn’t count because it’s clearly sports-related. But again, it’s one of those things where you can just create some space in your closet and in your mornings for three months and then at the end of those three months assess and decide, “What did I miss? What do I have in here now that I never wore even though I only have those 33 items?” Because that happens. Again, you just get very clear on what you want and don’t want in your closet. It really informs a lot of the decisions that you’re making in other areas of your life too once you see how little you really need to still do all of the things that you enjoy doing.

When we overwhelm ourselves with too much stuff, we don’t get to really embrace life or even notice it. Click To Tweet

I travelled many countries. I travelled 34 countries by now, maybe more. I think 40 by now or even more, I don’t know. Now I do more of a luxury travel and when I was younger it was backpacking. I remember going for a month to visit Thailand and I had maybe five outfits in my backpack, it was super light. Now it seems like my suitcases are just getting bigger and bigger. It gets harder to be more discerning about what I need. But also, what happens is when I bring less, I regret that I didn’t bring more.

And why is that?

Because I don’t have the thing that I really wanted to wear.

Okay. That might be the case, but do you end up wearing everything that you have, or did you just bring the wrong things?

Sometimes I bring the wrong things. Aha! That’s the problem.

Well, again, it’s really knowing that you could’ve brought 10x the amount of things you brought and still not have been satisfied because you didn’t bring what you wanted to bring. But if you had brought a quarter of those things but included what you really wanted to wear then you would have been fine. It’s not about having more choice, it’s just about being clear on what you want.

Yeah. But I do find that sometimes when I bring a lot, I have everything that I need. It’s easy because I wake-up different every day. What was great for yesterday and seemed like the perfect outfit will not be what I want today. I don’t know. I guess one of the things that are highest in my value is variety. I love variety in life, variety in colors, texture, food and places, people, events, and things that I do. When I think about simplifying, it almost does not align with my highest values.

Sure. It’s an experiment. I always recommend people do what’s best for them and for their life. It might not be good for you or right for your life. But what I have discovered, because I enjoy variety in some things, but I also really, really enjoy being highly engaged in something that I care about. If I’m working on a new project or something like that, I want to have all of my focus and attention on that thing. I want to be able to dive deep. It’s easier for me to do that if I don’t have to think about 100 other things.

For sure.

But there are other times, if I’m not working on something and I want to go and travel and see a lot of different things, and try different food, that type of thing, that’s fantastic. I think everything kind of has its season, but at least for me, clothes are one area where I know that even when I have all the options, I would still wear the same stuff over and over again. It’s just much easier for me to say, “I’m not going to make decisions about that because I don’t really care about it.” But for you, that could be something that is another category that’s totally different, that is weighing you down, just distracting you from what you really enjoy, and maybe that’s the area or category that you want to simplify.

This is the category I want to simplify. The closet thing, there are parts of it that I totally agree with you because I did a closet cleanse and it was powerful. I almost felt like I was able to breathe better. I cleansed my books. I think we threw away like 250 books–lots of books. Sometimes I have this argument with my husband where I was like, “I want to get rid of it.” And he takes them back and put it on the shelf. He likes to hold onto things more than I do. But I definitely believe in what you’re saying about simplifying. Maybe I personally cannot go to the extent of what you’re doing which is probably a better living for some people but might not be aligned with my personality, but I see the value in cleansing and simplifying because it’s super important. Also, another talk that I saw of you was you were talking about the paradox of choice and how there were a number of grocery items in the past, something like 9,000 and now there are something like 40,000.

Yes. The number of choices that we have in the grocery store have increased so dramatically over the last 20 years. It’s pretty overwhelming. I’m thinking about the talk that you’re thinking about. I mentioned that there are 14 different kinds of Cheerios the last time I checked. Do we need that many choices for just Cheerios? It just seems to me I’m better off if I stay out of the cereal aisle and just go what I’m going for instead of wasting that decision power on things that don’t matter to me. Now again, for some people, cereal might be really important, and so they want to direct their attention to that. I guess what I’m trying to say overall is we can’t make everything matter because when everything matters, nothing does. It cannot get our attention or our energy or our focus because we’re so divided and so deluded.

Simplify the choices you have to make in life. The less energy you have to spend on choosing gives you more time to actually decide on what you really want.

I want to get business advice from you. Can I?

Okay, sure.

Awesome.

I’ll try.

Because I saw that you also have a course about simplifying your business. I am at the fork in the road where my website is Orion’s Method, I have a podcast called Stellar Life that we’re on right now, and then I have two things that I talk about: one is, Awakening your Inner Goddess, and one is Unleashing your Inner Superhero. I believe that with so many names and ideas, it can be confusing for some people. Under the umbrella of Orion’s Method, all of these exist; the Stellar Life podcast, the Awaken your Inner Goddess and Unleashing your Inner Superhero. What I do is I help alpha-type women find their power, finding their love, own their feminine power and integrate it with their masculinity so they create this new identity for themselves. And then from a place of being, they attract whoever they want, they attract their soulmate, they attract success, and I had many success stories. But simplifying it as far as a business plan is quite hard.

I can see that.

What will be your advice?

Well, looking at all of these different offerings, is there one that is less successful than the others or less appealing than the others, or they’re all equal across the board?

When I come to women and I do my talk on a missionary of superhero, they’re like, “Oh, we love it. This is great. It’s all about power and confidence.” And then there is that talk about awakening your Inner Goddess and they have a goddess group on Facebook and the women, we took them through challenges and they transform, that was amazing. Orion’s Method is the basic of my method. I’m a little lost here.

Are the majority of your clients going through every module here?

No. I think the majority right now is more around the goddess part.

Okay. Where does your interest lie? What are you most passionate about of those things that you mentioned?

I love those. It’s like, “Which baby do you need to choose?” It’s so hard. Again, the paradox of choice, and in this period, there is so much attachment to every choice.

Would it benefit people to do both or do they typically pick one path over the other?

It will benefit. It’s two slightly different target audiences. The goddess part is more for the alpha-type, strong, successful woman who is feeling her masculine and cannot find love. The Unleashing your Inner Superhero is for the woman who can be extremely successful but she’s at a place where she needs a little more oomph to move forward.

The superhero course is kind of the entry level and the other one is kind of a deeper dive; would you say that? I’m just trying to see if there is a way to create a path for women who come to you to see that this is a better place to start and then this next step is what would follow.

It’s just that I’m talking to what I perceive as two different audiences. Maybe it is right. Maybe they should start with the superhero and go into the goddess but it’s very difficult to say.

You know what I would do? I would put a survey out to the people that you’re working with. Create a really short survey on type form and ask them. Especially the people who have done one or the other or both might be able to give you some good insight on what they most enjoyed, what they most want from you, what they’re looking for next. That might help you streamline the offerings. It may be that both of them are relevant and important.

How did you simplify your own business? What did you do?

My business is like the whole umbrella is simplicity, so it doesn’t make any sense for me to get to make it too complicated. I have to walk the walk, but I have over the last eight plus years since I’ve been doing this created a lot of different offerings, and digital products, and presentations. I’ve also cut a lot of them. I watch and see, when their time has run out, that often just comes from me feeling like it’s time to let this go then I do. I don’t keep holding on to every single thing that I’ve offered. For instance right now I run a program called the Simple Year and we’re getting ready for our 6th year of that that’ll run in 2019. It’s going to be our last year. Even though it’s a very successful program, lots of people join it every year.

Everybody that’s listening right now should join it today because this is the last year, friends.

It will be the last year.

If you want to simplify your life, go to…

It’s simpleyear.co. You can check out the program. I only really bring it up to say that many people have asked, “Why is this your last year?” and it just feels like it’s time. I’m interested in pursuing other things and I don’t want to keep holding on to every single thing that I’ve created just because it’s working. I think everything kind of has its time and we have to let go to again, do that deeper dive like I’m talking about. We can’t keep doing all of the same things over and over again.

We can’t make everything matter because when everything matters, nothing does. Click To Tweet

It seems like you have this Zen like mindset of abundance where you don’t hold on, the whole Zen Buddhist teaching is about attachment. We are attached to our clothes, I’m attached to my closet obviously. I’m attached to my products, but also my career, I let go of so many things and so many products. Like okay, we got to get rid of that, but you have this mindset of abundance. Even if something is working and wonderful and it’s working really well, there is a demand, you will let it go.

Yes.

You put you first.

Correct. I think I’m serving my overall community in doing that. It’s just time, it’s time to let go. I’m not attached to it even though it’s very successful. I think that I’m able to feel like that because of the practice that I’ve done in my life. Letting go of a lot of things that I thought defines me, and that I was afraid to let go of just in case I might need it, or just in case the sky fell, or a thousand reasons that I would think of to hold on to things, but I realized that holding on isn’t easy, it’s harder. Holding on is harder than letting go because you’re always just holding on. You’re spending all of that energy holding on, and protecting, and making sure everything is safe and certain. In reality, nothing is safe or certain. To let go, it is just very freeing. Then you open yourself up to curiosity, to other opportunities, to really following what you’re interested in instead of getting locked into something just because it works. That’s not a good enough reason to hold on to something in my opinion.

I agree. Some people love holding on to the past, replaying the past, and hold on to the what if. A lot who go and find security in jobs often will have the universe send them into jobs that are not secure. There is no guarantee that life is going to go your way, so you have to go with life.

Correct. Create things for yourself and pursue the things that you’re interested in. If you’re holding on really tightly to everything that is, there is no room for what will be. I think you miss out on a lot of things. A lot of the things we’re holding on to are mythical like job security. People when I went on my own we’re like, “Aren’t you afraid of not having a paycheck? Not having this job security?” Why was my job any more secure than the business I was creating? It wasn’t.

How do you teach your clients to release attachment?

By practicing with a simple step, with the easy stuff first. For instance, working on something like the closet, or the kitchen, or books, or papers, things that are less complicated than working on releasing your attachment to the past, or releasing your expectations of other people. Still all things that drive us down, but let’s not start with the hard stuff. Start with the easier stuff.

So start with the easier stuff. I don’t want to talk about the hard stuff.

Okay.

Releasing expectations from people.

Yes. Well here’s the thing, we don’t really get to have expectations of other people, or we don’t get to manage their expectations, let’s put it that way. I think we do a lot of that or we try to. We want to keep everybody happy and please everyone around us. Again, make sure we’re managing expectations. The only expectations you get to manage are your own. I don’t think we even get to do that all that often. Again, it’s another myth, that we have that control. We really don’t. We have to let that go and do what we think is best. Then let what is going to happen, happen. I mean, people are going to feel the way they’re going to feel, they’re going to experience you and what you do, and themselves and what they do the way they will. You have no control over that, zero.

I love that. This is something that I personally am working on.

I think we all are.

Yeah. This past year is something that is more in my awareness. I’m like, “Who do I want to become?” without considering other people’s expectations or their need to put me in a box or my need to have them say, “Wow, Orion, you’re great. We love you.” This need for validation and fear of rejection, getting rid of all that which is getting rid of the attachment to what other people think about me.

Yeah. I think this is a work in progress. I think it’s something that we constantly have to practice maybe forever. It’s nothing that will ever come super easy. However, it will make everything else easier because when you do release it and when you find yourself in those moments where you are all you just for the sake of being you and not to please someone, or to get that validation, or to avoid that rejection, but when you are really showing up for your own life in your own way, I think you naturally better attract the people that should be in your life. Maybe you even repel the people that aren’t supposed to be there. That makes everything easier, where you’re not having to overthink that. It’s just happening because you are being who you are.

Yeah. I’ve been experimenting with my beingness. I took an Improv class yesterday.

That’s great. I’ve been hearing a lot about that from different people about how powerful that is.

The practice of minimalism is a work in progress. It has to be one step at a time.

It is so much fun. I’m level two now. They have seven levels and every level is eight weeks. It’s just a place for me to not think about business, not think about my past, not think about my future and just being present and play like a child and really stretch my limits and be like the weirdest that I can and fail whatever. It’s all good because it’s a safe container for me to just explore my range of who I can be. Who I can be in relationship to a scene partner and how I can be like just in the moment completely react in the moment, not react from what I think I should say, but I react because I feel it and it comes out. It is so much fun.

Another layer of what I was doing there yesterday, I mean I was playing and it was fun. But I sometimes play with my energy where I want to see how my energy affects other people. They also talk about body language and how our psychology affects our physiology, but not only that physiology affect our psychology. I did something that I have never done before. Where I usually sit properly but I sat in what’s called a power pose. I had my leg in a triangle, my leg really open on my other leg and I had my hands on the back of my neck and I was leaning back. I felt uncomfortable doing that, but I did it because I wanted to see how it’s going to affect the group. It was me playing mind games with other people without them knowing.

Is that the power poses from Amy Cuddy?

Yes.

Sounds great. She’s so smart.

Yeah. I quote her in my talk. I was sitting in this power pose and all of a sudden–and I was really focusing on my energy and how I feel–I saw three people adopt similar physiology then I just took my hands off and after three or four minutes, eight out of nine people were sitting the same way as I did.

That’s funny.

It was so cool. When you hold a stronger frame, you can totally affect and elevate people around you which was really cool. I know we’re going away from the topic of simplicity but I had to share it.

I think this is a great conversation because then I think as that’s naturally happening, they’re fueling you back.

Yes. I like it. It just goes back to ownership of who you are and ownership of your power and it goes back to decluttering the attachment of what other people think. In the past, I would think I would never be able to sit like that. What will people think about me? Now I’m just like let’s see what they think about me, let’s try it, it was uncomfortable for me because when you’re so open, it’s quite vulnerable, but it was super cool to see.

Spending all your energy on holding on is harder than just letting go. Click To Tweet

That’s very good. I’m going to guess that they probably weren’t thinking about you or they didn’t know they were.

No, it’s all self conscious. They were not thinking about me at all. It’s all subconscious.

That’s one thing and I know you’re going to fight me on the closet challenge, but one thing that was really empowering…

I’m not going to fight you, we’re going to have a polite disagreement maybe. I’m flexible. It just feels like the end of the world for me. But it’s okay. I’ll challenge myself.

The interesting thing to me is that I started this when I was working full time in advertising sales. I was working with clients, and my colleagues, and I had sales meetings, and community events. I was around people all the time and I thought, oh my gosh, what are they going to think about this? Nobody noticed. I wore the same dress to every event for probably a year. Nobody said a thing and believe me when I say, I worked with the kind of people who would mention it. They did not notice.

Wow.

That was so freeing to me because for so long, I had really—I don’t think everybody does this but for me, I was really trying to prove who I was by what I wore. Dressing for the roles or the person people thought I was and nobody noticed. So all of that effort went unnoticed. When I realized that they weren’t noticing that I thought, well maybe they’re not really paying attention to much of anything that I’m doing and I can release that fear of what will people think.

Yes, there is a part of dressing for the role or dressing on whatever people expect of me. But for me, it’s dressing for self expression. It’s also dressing to experiment with what I feel good in. it’s also dressing for the person that I want to be. I talked about your alter ego and how you can link that into a new version of yourself and draw those traits into who you are and then you integrate it and you kind of become it. Like Amy Cuddy said, “Don’t fake it until you make it, fake it until you become it.”

One of the things that I do and also in my femininity work when I go to pole dancing classes, I experiment with different sexy outfits, and textures, and colors. I find what feels good in my body. That changes according to my mood and what I feel like I want to express and release on the dance floor. I do this work where it’s not just like pole dancing, be sexy, look in the mirror, it’s more of a journey into a woman sensuality and femininity. We don’t have mirrors in the studio. We cheer each other and it’s not about looking beautiful, it’s about being in your true essence and releasing emotions and all that. I have a big collection of those items.

The goal is staying as creative as you can be with just fewer items in your space.

I won’t even count those in the challenge. I’m not saying that’s a workout for you although I’m sure it probably is. I would count those in your, if you decided to try the challenge which I’m not suggesting it’s right for you, but I wouldn’t count those anyway. With you, clothes are a form of creative expression. This would be a great challenge for that. Like, can I creatively express myself with fewer items?

There’s resistance that’s bubbling in my body right now.

Which is great because I always know when I think, “Oh my gosh, I could never do that,” or “That sounds terrible,” I always stop now and say I always challenge my nevers. If I have to say never about something, I want to challenge that. I want to say, “Why am I saying never? What is it that is so offensive to me? Why don’t I want to do this?” because it’s usually not that I think I can’t do it, but I don’t want to. If I don’t want to do something, I really want to understand very clearly why.

Well, that’s a whole new journey. I want to go back to simplifying your home and your environment.

Sure.

What do you do to do that? How do you start? Do you start with different rooms? Do you start in a sense specific order? I know there’s this book by this Japanese author. I forgot her name.

Marie Kondo.

Yeah, Marie Kondo, about hold the item and just ask yourself, “does this bring me joy?” and then wait for three seconds and if it doesn’t, just let it go. How do you go about it?

I think there are a lot of amazing systems and recommendations out there but for me, I wanted to really kind of ease into it. I didn’t want to stress myself out simplifying. I didn’t want to have to follow any specific rules. I did the easy stuff first. I took a box and I put it by my door and every day for a little while, I would just kind of walk through my home and if there was something that I wasn’t using and I didn’t enjoy and didn’t really make a difference to me whether it was there or not, I put it in the box. After a while, I kind of just sat with the new space that I had created and thought about how I felt. When I was ready, I did another pass. I probably operated like that for a good year or more, maybe a year or two until we had empty rooms in our house.

Did you? Wow.

Yeah. Because eventually, when you get rid of the extra measuring cups, and the extra wooden spoons, and the extra t-shirts, and the books that you’re not reading, and the appliances that never see the light of day, then you look at the things like, I mean we have a living room and a family room, but we never used one of them. I thought, why do we even have furniture in here? We never use this room, so we got rid of all the furniture in that room. I had an office but I never worked in it. I always worked at my kitchen table. So it’s like, why do I have a desk and all of these excess things when I never use it? For a little while, I would think it’s not hurting anything to keep it there. But that didn’t sit with me well because I wanted my life to be more in line with how is this helping versus how is this not hurting. I didn’t really want to kind of sink to that low bar of, oh well, it’s not hurting anything so I may as well hold on to it. After a couple of years and realizing we had way too much house, we sold our house and downsized to an apartment less than half the size.

No way. Wow.

Yeah. Then of course in a smaller space, clutter is much more noticeable. We just kind of had to be on the lookout for clutter creep and really paying attention to what we were bringing into the home and asking, is this something that we’re going to use, is it going to make our days better, make us smile, whatever, and not just accept that things are constantly coming into the house because they don’t have to.

And in Amazon, I mean how easy is that.

Everything is so easy right now to buy.

It’s so easy.

So here’s the thing, it helps to have a really solid reason not to want it, or to want the space, or to want the freedom. Really clarify why you may want to simplify. For me, it was kind of easy actually because I had this health scare. I could say, “I want to live well with MS. I want to be healthy. I want to create a life with as little stress as possible,” and that really helped me. It made it easier to let go, because I would see things and think this is adding stress to my life, why do I want that? That’s just one more thing to take care of. One more thing to worry about. I know if I have more time and space in my life, I’m going to have less stress. Getting rid of the clutter, getting rid of the debt, that freed up a lot of room for me to consider another career path, to be able to leave the job that was weighing me down, that I didn’t enjoy. I could do things or consider work for more reasons than a paycheck.

If you're holding on really tightly to everything that is, there is no room for what will be. Click To Tweet

Beautiful. What I get now, the emotion that I’m living right now is I really want to declutter my home more. I probably will never go as hardcore as you with the furniture out. But it makes me feel like decluttering. The closet thing, still a challenge. I guess we start with what’s simple and then get to what’s harder.

I can promise you that when I first filled that box with stuff in my house, I never thought that I would sell my house, quit my job, downsize, cut my wardrobe by 90% or more. I never thought any of that would happen. In fact, if you would ask me to do it, I would have laughed. I would have been like that’s never going to happen. That’s too hardcore. That’s too simple, too minimalist. I’m not interested, but the more space that I opened up for myself, the more I want it.

You said you’re going to close out the program after 2019, where are you heading?

I’m working on a new book right now that is all about project 333, this minimalist fashion challenge. It’s going to come out in 2020, in the spring of 2020 which will be the 10th anniversary of the challenge. I am planning to do a tiny wardrobe chore for that book launch so I’ll be traveling and sharing my wardrobe, that one that you saw on the talk. It probably looks a little bit different now. I want to make a lot of room for that and who knows what else. I don’t know yet. I’m excited to have some openness and to see what’s upholding.

Wow. Well, it seems like you did whatever you did with so much conviction that you got your husband onboard. How did you do that and how do you think decluttering affected your relationship?

I don’t know if I ever really got him onboard, I think that’s kind of a slippery slope. We don’t get to convince other people or get them onboard. They kind of have to get themselves onboard. In the beginning, I just stayed really focused on my own thing. Even though I really wanted to look in his closet and make recommendations for him, I was like he doesn’t need all that stuff, I knew that that was up to him. I had to stay focused on my stuff. Because this all stemmed from me wanting to improve my health, I think that he was probably more interested than maybe someone who if you were just talking about decluttering for the sake of decluttering, or let’s clean out the garage this weekend, that’s no fun.

I think if you’re chatting with your partner about why you want to simplify and how you think that will benefit your relationship or your life, then it might make more sense. We did some fun stuff too even though I’m sure he didn’t think it was very fun in the beginning, but I used to hide things from him. For instance, we have these vases in our bedroom and they were very pretty but just decorative. One day, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep them or not. I boxed them up and I put them in the garage and I forgot about them completely. Even though they were the only decorative thing in our bedroom at that point. A few months went by and I thought about them so I unpacked them and I brought them back in and I set them up just as they had been. When my husband came home from work that night I said, “I think I’m going to donate these vases,” and he said, “No, I love those.”

Oh, that’s funny.

I thought, “Oh my gosh, they haven’t been here for months,” and he got a good laugh out of that and said, “I didn’t even notice they were gone, so we may as well get rid of them.” What’s funny is that since then, and that happened years ago but any time I travel, when I come home he’ll say to me, “I would just want to let you know I’ve hidden something and if you can guess what it is, we can keep it.”

That’s so cool.

We try to have fun with it. I think it’s one of those things where if your partner can see the benefits versus just the chore in the simplicity, then it’s easier for them to take it on for themselves. Also have fun with it, don’t make it a sacrifice is really what it comes down to. Focus more on the less.

Yes, that’s beautiful. Before we end, what are your three top tips to living a stellar life and where can people find you?

Three top tips, one I think that would come just out of this talk is to always challenge your nevers. If something is a hard no or a never ever, really dig into that and ask yourself why and consider it. Number two would be to take care of you, really take care of yourself in whatever that looks like to you and do it first. Put it before everything else, because that will make everything else sweeter. Number three, I kind of will piggyback onto the second one, is to do what’s best for you and to know that by listening to yourself, trusting yourself. I have a great friend who we were recently talking about food and other things and she said, “It’s all about self trust over self control,” so don’t worry about controlling yourself, learn how to trust yourself.

I love it, don’t worry about controlling yourself, learn to trust yourself. That’s so good.

So those are the three things and then you can find me on my website at bemorewithless.com.

Right. Courtney, thank you so much. This was amazing.

Thank you. I loved our chat.

Yes and thank you listeners. Please go and get the book Soulful Simplicity and go on Courtney’s website. All the information is going to be in the show notes on stellarlifepodcast.com. We’re going to have show notes, we’re going to have a checklist of things that you can implement from the episode and of course, a note from me and transcription of the episode. So go out there, challenge your nevers and simplify your life.

 

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

✓ Eliminate your stressors by simplifying your life. Take only what you need and refrain from collecting inessential material possessions.
✓ Learn the art of letting go. Holding onto things, memories, and people can drain your energy. Allow things to run their natural course instead.
✓ You can reduce stress and improve your health by simplifying the food you eat. Be conscious of what you put into your body and you will quickly see positive results.
✓ What are you spending money on? Take a look into your finances and get rid of unnecessary expenses. You will realize that there is actually a lot that you can live without. Work your way to paying off your debts and be free of financial burdens.
✓ Cleaning up a little each day can help you reduce clutter. Put items you don’t use into a box and then throw them out at the end of the month. You’ll quickly be able to clear an entire room.
✓ Like material possessions, negativity can also be removed from your life. Negativity may take the form of people who no longer bring you joy, memories of the past, or unreasonable expectations of others.
✓ Simplifying your work life will assist in reducing stress and increasing productivity. Ensure business operations are in their simplest form and easy to delegate or reassign.
✓ Join Project 333, the minimalist fashion challenge, and challenge yourself to reduce your wardrobe down to 33 items within the next three months.
✓ Grab a copy of Courtney Carver’s Soulful Simplicity book to understand how living with less can lead to so much more.
✓ Join Courtney Carver’s last Simple Year program and lead a simplify your life in 2019.

Links and Resources

About Courtney Carver

Courtney Carver changed her life by simplifying it after a devastating diagnosis in 2006. Shes the founder of bemorewithless.com and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333. Her new book Soulful Simplicity was published by Penguin Random House. Carver shows us the power of simplicity to improve our health, build more meaningful relationships, and relieve stress in our professional and personal lives.

Facebook Comments