Jan. 22, 2021

The Life Lessons of Living More Simply with Courtney Carver

The Life Lessons of Living More Simply with Courtney Carver

From managing your own life, personally and professionally, managing relationships, family, school, and giving yourself just enough time to do a workout, how do you live intentionally when you have all of these things you have to do?

Everything is a balancing act, and it can feel like you’re drowning with all these things to do. Living with less allows you to get back to being more intentional about who and what you surround yourself with and where you put your time and energy. 

In this episode, I am joined by a dear friend of mine, Courtney Carver. She is an expert when it comes to bringing simplicity to all areas of your life. Through her business and community at Be More with Less, Courtney has been sharing her personal journey of simplicity with others. 

However, before she started her business, Courtney’s life was go, go, go and busy all the time! Eventually, a medical diagnosis led Courtney to slow down and to reduce the stress she was living under. This made her realize that living with simplicity was exactly what she needed. In this episode, Courtney teaches us how the principles of minimalism can be applied to all areas of our lives.

We’re going to get real in this episode about how you can start living a more intentional and purposeful life, so let’s go!


[9:25] - Notice and address the resistance you’re having. What can you do about it and how can you reframe it to work for your life?

[17:33] - Project 333 is a Minimalist Fashion Challenge you can do to gain peace instead of chaos in the morning; a beginner's step towards simplifying your life. 

[19:22] - Life is about mindfulness and choices. We have leverage and power in how we can be open to change whether it’s in our clothes, work, time, relationships, etc. 

[26:30] - Do less so you aren’t diluting your energy. Do less with high impact and do the things that truly matter to avoid burnout. 

[27:12] - Do not measure your self-worth by what you did or didn’t accomplish on your daily to-do list. Your self-worth is not measured by your productivity.

[28:13] - How much time and energy are you investing in your daily activities? 

[30:40] - Simplicity doesn’t change who you are as a person; it brings you back to who you truly are. 


For more information on the Make Time for Success podcast, visit:


Connect with Us!

Dr. Christine Li [host] - 

Website: https://www.procrastinationcoach.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/procrastinationcoach

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/procrastinationcoach/

Courtney Carver [guest] -

Website: https://www.bemorewithless.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bemorewithlessdotcom

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bemorewithless/

Podcast: Soul and Wit

Minimalist Fashion Challenge: Project 333


Hi, everyone, welcome back to the show. This is Episode Three. Are you wondering if there might be a way to get clearer on what is working for you and what is not. I've asked my very special guest Courtney Carver to come on the show today to talk with us about how she used the practice of living with simplicity living with less as her way to find what was really important to her in her life, you're going to hear why she needed to find an effective way to reduce the stress in her life. And you're also going to hear all of the life changing realizations, she had as a result of being able to do so. She's the author of two books, soulful simplicity, and Project 333. The minimalist fashion challenge that proves less really is so much more. And she's also the author behind the popular blog be more with less. In this episode, she shares so much wisdom, and also drops some practical tips for managing time dealing with resistance when it crops up, and you'll hear how she teaches me how to get rid of my last pieces of clutter. I think you're going to enjoy this episode. Let's go listen. Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelm so they can begin working to their potential. In this podcast, you're going to learn a powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together so that you can focus on what's really important, and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. Welcome to the make time for success podcast. I everyone. Welcome back to the show. Today I have the pleasure of welcoming My dear friend Courtney Carver. to the show. She is an expert in the topic and area of simplicity. And I do think simplicity, and living with a more minimal lifestyle with less stress can really help us find our way to success. So Courtney, welcome to the show.

Courtney Carver: 2:33

Hi, Christine.

Christine Li: 2:34

Hi, can you do me a favor and explain your backstory to the audience, just how you got started in the area of simplicity, and the kinds of adventures you've had with your audience since?

Courtney Carver: 2:49

Sure. So it started for me as really a personal journey and not very intentional. If I'm being honest, I didn't mean to simplify my life at first, that had never crossed my mind, I was really caught up in the kind of autopilot life and go go go and busy, busy busy all the time. And more and more and more. That was kind of the answer to all of my problems, or so I thought. And in 2006, I learned that I wasn't exactly on the right path. And all that more and more and more, wore me down. And I ended up getting really sick and was diagnosed with MS in July of 2006. And I don't say that to say that my lifestyle necessarily caused that disease, but it definitely contributed to exacerbations and just feeling overwhelmed and not great. And I think a lot of us can relate to that Ms or not. But with that diagnosis, I got a great permission slip to figure out how to live better, I wanted to feel well. And I was willing to do just about anything to get there. And after probably about six months of making changes in my life in different areas, I realized that the thing that tied all of those changes together was simplicity. And living with less and the opposite of more and more and more. And that's when I got really interested in learning more about how simplicity and minimalism could really benefit me and my health and my family and my relationships. And then we took off onto this path of simplicity not only in my personal life, but in my professional life.

Christine Li: 4:51

Yes, that's beautiful. It's a beautiful story. You've I've been watching you almost since the beginning of your journey. I was Lucky to take Courtney's blogging course almost nine years ago, and just started learning from Courtney style and her teachings and her wisdom from that point. At this point, you've got me curious, because you mentioned the busy busy more and more and more attitude and lifestyle and that impulse that I think we're all coached into in some way or another, I'm wondering what decisions you had to make. Even though you had the goal of of living better kind of what decisions did you have to make along the way to make that transition from busy busy to calmer and enjoying your health and relationships, and work a lot more?

Courtney Carver: 5:44

Well, as you can imagine, it was not an overnight adventure by any means. It took some time. But the first thing that I had to do was changed the way I change. And I don't even know if I realized I was doing that at first. But looking back, I can see that that's exactly what happened. And that's what made this journey as positive as it's been. And what I mean by that is that before, whenever I would try to make a habit change or make a difference in my life, I would always want it done fast and furious, I would want to see the results right away, and I would throw myself into whatever this thing was, and would not come up for air. And at some point, I would burn out, get sick, not feel well, and then repeat the cycle again, because those habit changes that I wanted to make never took because of the way I was trying to change them. And so this time around, because the most important thing for me in the beginning was reducing stress, or eliminating as much stress as I could, I wanted to remove the stress out of how I changed. And so I decided to this time, change one thing at a time, and let it take as long as it took to happen. So in the very beginning, it was my very first change was looking at what I was eating, and how that was making me feel, and experimenting with eating differently. And seeing how that resonated with my body and my mind. And I continue to do that today. I mean, many, many, many years later. But once that change felt like the new normal, I would look at the next most stressful thing in my life, which for me was money and debt, and started making changes there. So really, again, every change just took as long as it took and then I would layer on the next thing. So then it was clutter and stuff and my relationship with shopping and kept going from there.

Christine Li: 8:01

Yeah, see, I think remind all of us how many different areas of our lives can be improved, when we just take a step by step approach towards making things easier, that the whole system of all the different things that we involve ourselves with can really be much less complicated.

Courtney Carver: 8:22

Yeah, and even though it's separate areas of our life, they're also connected. So when you simplify one, the next one is so much easier to simplify, because in some ways, you've already been working on that. And whatever that prior change was.

Christine Li: 8:37

Yes, yes, I completely agree. And I feel with my own journey of recovering from procrastination, I thought, initially, this was just going to help me with my work. And then all of a sudden, my finances got better. My relationships got better, too. So I've had a very similar kind of awakening, I think, as you've described, could you let us know what your practice or what you recommend to people you work with? Around the topic of resistance, and when we just are kicking and screaming, when we're thinking about doing some sort of more major change, or something substantial that would take us to a new level in our life?

Courtney Carver: 9:25

Sure, well, oh my gosh, resistance is so interesting, because no matter how many times we go through it, it still pops up and keeps coming up and coming up. And I think we get more comfortable with it. And it gets easier to deal with when we really notice it and address it time and time again. But for me, I guess what happens is when I feel that resistance, and for me that looks like oh my gosh, that's crazy or I could never do that. Now when I hear myself thinking that or saying that I immediately think, Oh, this could be really interesting. Or what do I need to learn here because that immediate resistance, and again, for me, it looks one way for someone else, it could look a different way. But we usually have a common response. And when I see that response happening, I know I have something to uncover. And it might mean, getting started straight away. Or it might mean, doing a little more investigating on why I am so resistant to this thing, whatever it might be.

Christine Li: 10:37

I love what you said, in terms of that it shows a kind of in a patterned way that

Unknown: 10:43

it's, it's it

Christine Li: 10:45

your subconscious or unconscious, whatever we want to call it, it will just pop up to say, Whoa, what are you doing, Courtney kind of thing, I think, and that you manage over the years to, instead of being afraid of that voice, to say, what is the opportunity that's in front of me? What might I be missing out on?

Courtney Carver: 11:06

Exactly, I think I was really dismissive before I started tuning into this, and I would read about somebody doing something. And I would just think, Oh, my gosh, she's crazy. She's, that's ridiculous. And I know that a lot of people say that about me now, which is kind of ironic. But I still do that, again, with ideas or feelings. Or if I'm reading a book about something that I'm curious about, but sounds really out of reach. But again, now that I've noticed and clued in on that pattern, I can put the pieces together and say, oh, okay, you're thinking this way, which means that this is something that might actually be interesting to you.

Christine Li: 11:50

Yes. And you've you've been such a great role model for your community. And you've made the journey of exploring this kind of new way of living. really a fun concept of fun prospect. And I know you've brought in your daughter, to your journey and helping you to spread the word to can you tell us about your new venture with her?

Courtney Carver: 12:19

Sure, well, I should say she probably inspired most of my entire journey because I always wanted to show up in better ways for her as her mom. And as I started taking better care of myself, I was able to do that, which was phenomenal. And now she's grown. She's 25. And last year, we started a podcast together. And even though we had been working together before, she was doing some behind the scenes stuff with my business. And we were always brainstorming together on each other's work. And we decided to collaborate and start a podcast called soul and wit. And we've been going a little over a year now, which is hard to believe.

Christine Li: 13:06

It's a beautiful podcast with all different kinds of topics, like money and habits and how to make goals that aren't going to that are going to help you rather than make you feel like you're in a struggle on the struggle bus. So check out the Solon whip podcast if you guys haven't listened to it quite yet. It's it's really, it's really great. And Bailey's great. Your conversations are wonderful.

Courtney Carver: 13:37

Thanks for mentioning that. And you were on our podcast, which we loved chatting with you. And I've shared that episode a lot because procrastination is I've learned from you something that most people struggle with for sure.

Christine Li: 13:54

Yeah, thank you. Thank you. I think, well, let's let's I'm gonna turn this to my own clutter, because you're making me think of that, because I feel like with procrastination, I know what I'm doing. But clutter still seems to be my sticking point of all the things I feel I'm more organized. I feel like I handled time better, but the clutter still seems to be in the corner sometimes. So for our listeners who might be in a similar boat, or who might have just too much paper too much, somewhere. Some they've been working, they've been doing their best but there's just this one piece that seems to keep coming at them. What would you suggest?

Courtney Carver: 14:41

I think maybe it's time for a reframe at that point and really start thinking not about what you want to get rid of. But what you want to make room for. And I don't mean more stuff. I'm talking about more life like what in your life do you want to make room for Because if you're thinking about that clutter, even though it's not taking up a lot of space, it's taking up your time and energy and your attention. And attention is scarce these days, I mean, we really have to be mindful about where that goes. And I just feel like removing the things that remove me from my life is a worthwhile endeavor. So if something really isn't adding value to my life in one way or another, and that doesn't mean that I have to actually be using it every day, it might be something that I really enjoy looking at, or, I don't know, a sentimental item that makes me smile, something that I'm enjoying, then it's worth holding on to. But if it's not, if I can't remember why I have it, and all I'm doing is cleaning it and being annoyed by it and wondering why I'm holding on to it, then it's time to go. Because Because it's removing me from my life in that moment. Yes, I

Christine Li: 16:05

think I'm just so used to hanging on to things that I don't challenge it. I don't ask that question of what would? What would the space feel like without me hanging on to this piece of paper or to this old Christmas card? And there's so many of them each year they come? And all right. So it is it is a challenge for me still, but thank you for offering me that help and the audience to our audience.

Courtney Carver: 16:33

Yeah. And let me just say there's one in between thing that might be helpful. And that is to remove all of those things that you're questioning, and just put them in kind of a temporary place like in a box that you can't see into don't label the box, just get it out of sight, whether it's in your garage, or in another closet or under the bed. And after, I don't know, 3060 or 90 days. If you don't miss it, and don't remember what's in the box, then you know, it wasn't adding value and you can let it go.

Christine Li: 17:10

Yes, I think I'm going to use I think that's the thing I need to do because it's always insight. And I think the box method is going to help me a lot. You you with the box method. You also remind me of your project 333 concept and movement. Can you describe that to our audience members who might not be involved in that already?

Courtney Carver: 17:33

Sure, project. 333 is a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for three months. And it's a challenge. Again, nothing permanent. But at first just a temporary change, where for three months, you're experiencing peace in the morning instead of chaos when it comes to opening your closet and deciding what to wear. So instead of looking at everything you own, you're only looking at your favorite things. And chances are you're already doing Project 333 because you're still wearing the same your favorite things over and over again, but you have all those other items in there. So it's a great way to sample simplicity. And the items that you count in those 33 items are clothing, jewelry, accessories and shoes. But you don't count things like underwear, sleepwear, workout gear. So it's just a really, I think fun way to see what you really need and want in your closet. And then it's contagious in that it gets you thinking about what you really want and need in every other area of your life when you see after three months that it wasn't a sacrifice. And it wasn't even really that much of a challenge. The most challenging part of it is thinking about doing it. Like most things.

Christine Li: 19:09

Yeah. As as we're talking about these different topics, the two words that come to mind are mindful thinking well, that's the first concept mindful thinking and choices the fact that we have such leverage in our life I don't know if that's the right word but such power to deploy through our choices, the choices that we make with our close with our time with those inner voices whether whether or not to listen to them. And I think that's what a challenge such as yours, the project 333 challenge gets people to try on for a bit that oh, I can just look at my closet in a completely different revolutionised way it doesn't it's Not the space that holds all of my old styles and the things that I don't wear anymore. And I don't like anymore that I don't want to live my life that way anymore. So why would my closet look like that? year after year after year?

Courtney Carver: 20:16

Right. And what's so interesting that I didn't anticipate when doing this challenge. And I've been doing this now for 10 years, plus dressing with 33 items every three months, because, at first it was the challenge. And now it just makes my life so much easier that that's just how I roll with my clothes. But I didn't realize how much emotion my clothes held, or how much about how much of that I put on my clothing. And so until they were gone, I didn't know how much it bothered me that there were clothes in my closet with tags still hanging, that there were clothes, I had spent too much money on that there were clothes that didn't fit me clothes that people gave me that I never wore, and then I felt guilty about. So it's, it's just really interesting. I think that goes with all of our stuff like it has a bit of a hold on us in those emotional ways.

Christine Li: 21:14

Yes. And then when you change, I think you're making me think of all the things that happened with my closet, you save money, and the clothes you purchase are just better fitting and have more value because you pick them super consciously.

Courtney Carver: 21:32

Exactly. You pick clothes that you actually want to wear for the reason that they fit your body and your lifestyle. And that seems like such a simple concept, something that we should all be doing, but it's not how we often get dressed.

Christine Li: 21:48

Yes, yes, yes. Okay, so wonderful. So hopefully some of you will try out some or all of your will try out some of Courtney's wonderful methods. Courtney, I also know recently you started a membership. And can you tell us about that? How can people look out for that, and what kind of work you're doing inside the membership?

Courtney Carver: 22:14

I did. I mean, that's one one of the few things that I will think 2024 is this membership program, because prior to 2020, I had really started shifting away from digital products, and was going to do more in person on the road kind of things, live events, and speaking and other things that I hadn't really committed to before, in a big way. And then 2020 said, No, you're not going to do that you're going to stay home with everybody else. And that's when I decided to start this membership program because I still wanted there to be a space where we could gather and work together. But it needed to be online. And so I started a membership program called the simplicity space in August. And it's a community on mighty networks. So I want it really wanted to get off Facebook as well, community on mighty networks, where people are joining to connect and work on their simplicity goals and health and lifestyle changes. And I do live calls every month and record some videos and provide some other resources that have been it's been a great time for me and watching the community grow and grow together. And connect has been amazing, you know, at a time where we really need each other.

Christine Li: 23:54

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I do think getting people together really helps us to make change even easier, hard, hard changes. Let me ask you about being the host of a large or large ish community, what I guess what has been your biggest or favorite surprise lesson that you've learned from creating a community around a topic that was that you cared about?

Courtney Carver: 24:29

Probably that you can create an intimate space even with a large group. And that's something I'm going to be really focused on in the coming months and years, you know, as we grow, maintaining that, that intimacy and that connection with me and helping people connect with each other. It's possible and I think for a lot Time I wasn't sure if it was, but I'm seeing that it is very possible.

Christine Li: 25:04

Yes, great I can I'm sure it's going to grow. And I'm sure you're providing an amazing place for people to try on new things and new ways of being. And just to know that they're not alone. So I'm glad you could talk about it here. Another topic I wanted to touch on is kind of the relationship between simplicity and time management. Since I'm, I'm obsessed with the idea of time management all the time. Could you talk about some some tips or some things that you've realized? About how simplicity can just conserve our energy and make our decisions just quicker or easier? I think I'm just throwing out the the general topic, but I would love to hear what you've learned and what you teach.

Courtney Carver: 25:57

So it's interesting that you asked that right now, because I'm actually doing a little bit of a time management experiment on my own. Because, well, I definitely have much more time to play with. And I think that the overall answer is do less. You know, sometimes, I think we go into the time management or productivity arena, with the expectation of finding more time to do more things and get more accomplished. And I really think that's a mistake. Because the more we do, the more diluted our attention and energy is, and the I think the less effective we are at getting things done in a way that we want to get them done. So this isn't, for me, at least, about ticking things off a list and getting more things off my list or moving things around on the lists, it's doing less, and doing things that are more impactful things that matter to me, and not burning out in the process. And so it's this. It's always I'm always reevaluating what this looks like. And so for one thing, I don't do daily to do lists anymore, I only do weekly lists. Mm hmm. And that's worked out great, because for whatever reason, we really overestimate what we can accomplish in a day. And then we do this other thing where we measure who we are by what we accomplish, or our self worth by how many things we've ticked off our to do list. And well, I think it would be great to not measure that way. If you are measuring that way, I think it's better to do it on a weekly basis than a daily basis. So there's that. And then this experiment that I'm doing right now is just really paying close attention to the the buckets of time that I spend on a normal day, so and I hate to even use the word normal, but everybody has a handful of things that they do all the time. And so I'm looking at those things, especially and most specifically within my work. So how much time a day am I spending on creativity? How much time am I spending on administrative stuff like email or social media? And how much time am I spending running errands or doing meetings or whatever it is, and just really watching that? And then also, how much time am I spending in between. And what I mean by that is, there's time in the day, like there are minutes many, many minutes where we're just transitioning between activities, or we're distracted from one thing, or we're caught up in this other thing that wasn't planned. And I'm not doing this to micromanage my time, but I want to know where it's going so that if I want to spend more time doing creativity, for instance, I know I have to shave time off these other places, I can't make it all fit. So I'm just again, trying to do this mindful thing where I know just like, I'm just like, I would do a money budget. It's like a time budget, where is my time actually going? So I'm still in the beginning phases of this and just tracking the time. And I think by February I'll have a really good understanding of where my time goes and how I might better spend it.

Christine Li: 29:35

Okay, great. I like that I like the weekly to do list item and you're making me think that I do tend to still after all these years, attach a little bit of self worth to while Did I get it all done or how close did I get? It's we play a lot of games with ourselves and that takes time. I think that takes time and energy away from us. So thank you for giving us these great tips for just observing our time so that we can conserve it. I think that's great. I'm all for all of those kinds of exercises. Okay, so I think this might be a great time to ask what, what is the main message you would want our audience to take away from this conversation or what is the the hope that you might have for people who are wanting to make a significant adjustment or change in their life?

Courtney Carver: 30:34

I think I would share the simplicity doesn't change who you are, it brings you back to who you are. And I think as adults over time, you know, we build, we just add, add, add, and we're so we're kind of building these layers, whether they be around us or within us. And simplicity is the opposite of that you're removing the layers, you're letting go of the things that don't matter, you're getting back to your true self. And that's really powerful. I mean, to be able to remember who you are and what matters to you, and what you stand for, and what you care about. And all the while creating the time and space to live that version of you. It's a it's, I don't know, magnificent, is the only word I can think of.

Christine Li: 31:31

It really is. Thank you. Thank you, you can tell why Courtney is thriving in her business and in her life. I mean, she's got such wisdom. Thank you for sharing all of your wisdom with with us today.

Courtney Carver: 31:45

Thank you, Christine.

Christine Li: 31:46

And can I ask you one more thing? Can you tell our audience how they can stay in touch with you?

Courtney Carver: 31:51

Sure, they can visit my site, which is be more with less.com. And learn about everything we've talked about today. And I'm also pretty active on Instagram at be more with less.

Christine Li: 32:07

Wonderful. So I want to wish you all the best with your time management experiments and your community and your work. Courtney, thank you so much for being here.

Courtney Carver: 32:17

My pleasure. Take care.

Christine Li: 32:20

Thank you for listening to this episode of The make time for success podcast. If you enjoyed what you've heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website make time for success podcast.com for past episodes, show notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach. Send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes you've been listening to. And let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. Talk to you soon.

Courtney CarverProfile Photo

Courtney Carver

Writer and Simplicity Expert

Courtney Carver writes things. She wrote a book called Soulful Simplicity and the simplicity blog, bemorewithless.com. She shares things that make her laugh and cry on Instagram (@bemorewithless) and hosts a podcast called Soul & Wit with her daughter, Bailey.
Carver doesn't have an impressive degree, awards, or a big, fancy home full of stuff. Instead, she selectively surrounds herself with her favorite things and people she loves. She does work she truly cares about, goes on adventures (in the world or in her own backyard) and likes chai lattes with almond milk while reading or writing.

Read her books, Project 333, The Minimalist Fashion Challenge That Proves Less Really is So Much More and Soulful Simplicity or join her membership, The Simplicity Space for extra love and support as you simplify your life.