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How to Let Go of 3 Fears that are Holding You Back Every Day

Be More With Less - Wed, 08/15/2018 - 11:13

Fear isn’t always a bad thing. Some fears hold us back in a positive way. For instance, if you are hiking and see a furry spider on the trail, when fear says, “don’t touch that,” it’s helpful (yes, this happened to me but fear didn’t say, “don’t touch that” fear said, “girl, run.” Same goes for poisonous snakes and other potentially dangerous situations. But those aren’t typically the fears we are dealing with on a daily basis. These aren’t the fears that are holding us back from thriving in our own lives.

Following are 3 fears that do hold us back. These fears trick us into thinking we are comfortable and safe  – yet all of them ask us to compromise ourselves all day long until at some point, we don’t recognize ourselves anymore. Learn to let go of the ones that are in your way. Work on them one at a time with the steps listed below.

1. Fear of missing out (FOMO)
We are struggling with the fear of missing out on activities, information, opportunities, connection, and many other things. We struggle to keep up, to catch up, to be included, noticed and loved, all in the name of FOMO. With FOMO, you may overcommit or be constantly checking email or social feeds. You want to be here for your life but also stay connected with everything else. The simple truth is that you can’t be everywhere.

The remedy for FOMO is presence.

When you are truly present, there is no regret about the past, or anxiety about the future. When you are present, you notice everything and everyone around you; the big picture, the little pictures, and all the tiny details that contribute to the moments which make up the here and now … which make up your life. And that’s just what happens on the outside. Your body, heart and soul change on the inside too when you give yourself permission to be fully alive and aware. That’s presence. It’s not easy. It takes practice and it’s the only remedy for FOMO.

2. Fear of disappointing others (FODO)
This is the fear that makes us say yes when we want to say no. It’s the fear that keeps us quiet when we disagree and it’s the fear that leaves us feeling depleted and resentful. People pleasers especially hate to disappoint others but the truth is that other people’s disappointment has very little to do with you. If someone’s expectations of you don’t align with your schedule, interest, or the expectations you have, they may be disappointed, but since you never set those expectations to begin with, the responsibility is not yours. Another important thing to note is that disappointment is survivable.

The remedy for FODO is boundaries. 

One way to soften the blow and sometimes avoid disappointment all together is to be very clear about your boundaries. With that, you may be able to shift some (not all) expectations. Businesses often have policies to let you know what to expect. People have boundaries. If a business has policies you disagree with, you may stop doing business with them. With people, it’s a little different. Often, boundaries are pushed, or not honored. But there is always one person who can honor your boundaries. It’s you. By doing that you remind others that your boundaries matter and you may inspire them to create their own.

3. Fear of trusting yourself
If you are afraid or unsure about trusting yourself, it will be almost impossible to remedy FOMO or FODO because staying present is hard, and creating and enforcing your own boundaries will be very challenging. I can speak to this because there were many years I didn’t know how to trust myself. I looked outward for answers and often second guessed myself.

If you are running on auto-pilot, constantly reacting to life’s demands and everything thrown your way, you may have forgotten what’s best for you. I know I did. I forgot who I was, what I believed, and how to trust myself. I forgot what was best for me. I forgot my heart. Maybe you forgot yours too.

The way to trust yourself is to listen to your heart. Here’s how:

Step one.
Create a little sanctuary where you can sit quietly for 5 minutes a day.

This may be as simple as taking a deep breath (wherever you are) in through your nose and out through your mouth (like a really big sigh) to signify the start of your practice. Or, if you have a place in your home you could place a candle, journal, pen and blanket or other comfort items, do that.

Step two.
Put your hands on your heart.

Sit quietly for 5 minutes. Put it on your calendar. Try the practice in silence, or with soothing music. After a few cleansing breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth (seriously let it all out), close your eyes or turn your gaze down and focus on your breath.

Next, place one hand on your heart, and cover your hand with the other. Feel your heart beating. Feel the warmth of your heart and your hands. Now, while continuing to breath in and out with some intention, simply listen to your heart. For the first few weeks, just show up and listen to your heart. Then, start to ask questions or write down what you hear.

By showing up for this practice on a consistent basis you’ll begin to remember yourself and what matters to you. You’ll learn to trust yourself.

Let go of these fears so you can show all the way up for your life.

These fears aren’t protecting you. They are dragging you down and holding you back. Letting go of these three fears will take time and practice. Start by noticing the fears as they come up. Respond to the fear of missing out with presence. Respond to the fear of disappointing others by creating boundaries and respond to the fear of trusting yourself by putting your hands on your heart.

P.S. If you are interested dive deeper into this heart practice and in creating your own soulful simplicity read Soulful Simplicity, how living with less can lead to so much more.


Thanks for reading today and inviting me into your inbox. I’m Courtney Carver, author of Soulful SimplicityIn 2010, I created top simplicity blog, Be More with Less and minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 (featured in O, The Oprah magazine, Real Simple, CNN, BBC, and other media).

I’m live on Instagram almost every Monday at 5pm Eastern (NYC time) to talk about different areas of simplicity and answer your questions. Please join me. Here’s the schedule for the next two weeks:

  • Monday, August 20th: Becoming Debt Free
  • Monday. August 27th: Digital Simplicity

The post How to Let Go of 3 Fears that are Holding You Back Every Day appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

How to Simplify Your Life: gifts, downsizing, wardrobe, work and other good stuff

Be More With Less - Wed, 08/08/2018 - 14:57

We are each in different stages of life and simplifying looks different depending on life stages and lifestyles. Finding your own way is the best way, but that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. I offered to answer your simplicity questions from Instagram and Facebook. The most common question was about gifts. Many of you struggle to express your wishes to live with less to well meaning friends and family, or to know what to do with the gifts. I answer those questions with many others below.

This is a longer article, but you can scan to the categories you are most interested in if you are short on time.

Simplicity Questions and Answers Clutter/Stuff

Do you wear out your clothes and possessions before replacing them, or how do you decide when it is time? 
I don’t give much thought to replacing my items because I don’t give any attention to what the newer, better, shinier version might be anymore. When the time comes (like if I’m wearing through the sole of my shoe), I either replace it with the same thing or consider something different. There are times I’ll replace things before they are worn out and used up. If something in my life changes, and I think it’s the right time to replace or add something new, I will. It takes me a long time to get there though, sometimes a year or, especially if it’s a bigger purchase. That’s always a good reminder that most of my stuff related needs are not immediate.

I can part with everything besides my 200 cookbooks! Help, I’m a chef.
Why do you have to part with them? Less isn’t nothing. If those 200 cookbooks add value to your life, keep them. If you change your mind or your life, let them go.

Do you ever regret giving stuff away? I’m trying to downsize but sometimes I do have regrets.
I don’t regret anything I’ve given away. I don’t remember most of it either. If you really aren’t sure about something, box it up and hide it. See if you miss it. If you don’t, let it go. If you do, bring it back. Keep focused on the downsized lifestyle you are interested in. Living space is more fun and meaningful than storage space.

How can you be simple in terms of cosmetics?
Chances are, if you like cosmetics, you own much more than you actually wear (just like clothes). Consider a packing party for your cosmetics. Pack them all up as if you were moving. Only take things out when you use them. See what’s left in the box after 30 days, and let that stuff go.

What if you live with a hoarder who stacks stuff everywhere and won’t let you clean or donate or even move anything?
Hoarding is a disorder that may require more help than you can offer. You may need help from a professional. First determine if you think this is hoarding vs. packrat/collector.

This article from Psychology Today might help, especially this part, “It can be difficult to determine whether someone is a hoarder or just a pack rat, someone who just likes to hang on to things. The main determiner of whether a behavior is just a personal preference or a disorder usually has to do with whether or not, and how much, that behavior has begun to negatively impact daily functioning. Here are generally recognized symptoms of hoarding from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Cluttered living spaces
  • Inability to discard items
  • Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines, or junk mail
  • Moving items from one pile to another without discarding anything
  • Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items, including trash
  • Difficulty managing daily activities, procrastinating and trouble making decisions
  • Difficulty organizing items
  • Perfectionism
  • Excessive attachment to possessions and discomfort letting others touch or borrow possessions
  • Limited or no social interactions”

What does a typical work day look like for you?
My work unfolds in cycles, I may be in a creation phase, or growth phase, or traveling (speaking/book tours) so it really varies. Right now I’m creating. My two big projects are:

1. Writing a new book about Project 333. This means I need extra time for writing, research, and thinking/procrastinating/walking. Writing a book involves just as much not writing as writing.

2. Simple Year 2019: We have many new contributors for year six of A Simple Year and will be opening early registration this fall. I’m in the planning phase now and it’s really exciting to see how much the program is changing. I can’t wait to share it with you!

With those two things being the main focus of my work now, a typical day looks like this:

  • 6am – 9am Morning routine
  • two 3-4 hour work blocks

One of those blocks is more creative work and the other is for email, social media, reading, admin, meetings. I tried to work on certain themes everyday but it feels too forced right now. I’m doing whatever I can to encourage creative flow. Usually I work alone at home, at the library or in coffee shops but sometimes meet friends for coffee and work.

Are you seeing an increase in women-run simplicity blogs?
I’m not sure if it’s an increase of the overall number, but I am seeing more growth and exposure for women-run simplicity blogs which I think is awesome. I celebrated some of them here. 

Here are a few more:

How were you so clear about what you wanted your business to be at the very beginning?
I wasn’t! I didn’t know what my business would look like in the beginning. I had some ideas of what it could look like, but really wasn’t clear at all.

What are your thoughts on work-life-balance? How do you still stay “you”/lessen stress?
I don’t believe in work-life balance. Sometimes work takes over, sometimes life takes over. To stay “you” and lessen stress, create a daily practice or morning routine where you have space to come back to yourself on a consistent basis. If your work is a constant source of stress, consider something different. It took me a couple of years from considering a career switch to making the leap, but with a good exit strategy and a loose plan for creating a microbusiness, I made the leap in October 2011. I’ve never regretted that decision.


My question is about Project 333. I want to try it but I’m scared. Of what I’m not sure. How should I just do it … simple real steps. I don’t want to get rid of all of my clothes so can I still do it? Can I also do a 333 per season? Have you ever done that? 1 for spring summer and 1 for fall winter maybe. Thank you!
It’s normal to feel scared or uncertain, but not to worry! Please don’t get rid of any of your stuff. Just box up the excess and get it out of sight for three months. This is a three month challenge, so yes, you can do it seasonally. At first though, just focus on three months and nothing beyond that. For how to get started (with simple real steps), first read the rules here and then read these 10 tiny steps to take towards your tiny wardrobe. If you still want more step-by-step, day-by-day instruction, try the dress with less course.

What if I can’t get my clothes down to 33 items because I love everything I have?
Maybe you don’t need to. Project 333 isn’t for everyone, although I think most people can learn something from this minimalist fashion challenge. If you are curious about it, or thinking about trying it, remember that you don’t have to get rid of all the clothes you love. You are just hiding them for three months. At the end of the challenge, you may have more clarity on what you really love.


What’s your suggestion for family members who have little to no boundaries regarding my minimalist/simplified lifestyle? She buys all the things & then my husband and I are stuck with whatever is purchased for us (no matter how much I beg for quality time and/or experiences instead)?
The only person who can have boundaries around your lifestyle is you. You can ask others to honor them, but can’t expect them to. That said, you can still honor your boundaries. If having conversations about shifting the way you give gifts hasn’t worked, accept the gifts with love and gratitude and then pass them on. Depending on your relationship with the gift givers, you can kindly let them know that you appreciate the thought but won’t be keeping the gift, or don’t say anything.

If you are willing to give it one last shot, you could share this one less gift certificate with them.

How do you decide what to do with items that were gifts? Things you like, but don’t need.
I’m pretty lucky that most people in my life know what is going to happen to the gifts they give me unless they are consumable or something I will actually use. Journals and face masks are always a safe bet, but otherwise, I don’t hold on very long. I really do have everything I want and need. Most of us do. If you don’t want it, give it away.


Do you have any posts or videos about how to travel light from the female perspective? It seems that many minimalist packing videos I find show how guys might pack for a vacation. Personally, I think that it’s easier for a guy to pack than a female.
Yes, here and here.

How do you feel about packing cubes? I do not want to purchase more things, but I also want to be able to pack the same bag for 3 or 30 days.
I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about packing cubes, but I don’t use them. I’ve used a small carry on bag for 3 days or 30 days without them.


What’s one suggestion you would give new parents regarding living simply?
Sleep when you can. Eat healthy when you can. Love your baby all the time. Things will get easier. I guess that’s four suggestions. Congrats!

You took your time with your simplification journey. Would you recommend this? Would you recommend combining a couple of goals together eg decluttering plus clearing debt (as complementary) or do you think one at a time and building over time is a better approach?
I think it depends on what your situation is and how much time/energy/attention you have to change your life. It’s ok to be working on more than one thing at a time, but layering each change is helpful. Start with one and then add another when the first feels comfortable or manageable. I was recently reminded of how important that is during my 90-days of discipline. Even if you are used to making big changes, making them all at once is rarely sustainable.

I want to downsize but at the moment the purchase of a smaller home costs more than what we owe on our current home. Trying to make sense of the numbers. Also, should renting a house or apartment be considered?
Often when downsizing or moving, the only factor considered is money. Of course that’s important, but numbers are not the only thing to consider. Financial advisors may disagree, but the big question to ask is, “how do I want to live my life?”

When we were selling our home in 2013 to downsize to a small apartment, we got advice from many people we trusted. They suggested we wait to sell until the market bounced back. They said if we waited 10 years, we could make much more on the sale. We considered the feedback but remembered we knew what was best for us. Maybe we’d make more in ten years, and maybe we wouldn’t, but that wasn’t the issue. We were focused on how we wanted to live for the next 10 years. Did we want to take care of a big house? Did we want to replace the roof, the fence, the appliances, the carpet and all of the other stuff that would likely fall apart? Did we want to continue to invest our money, time, energy and other resources in a place we didn’t really want to live in anymore? Did we want to compromise the next 10 years just in case the market bounced back? Our answer was a hard pass.

In May of 2013, we moved from our 2000 square foot home to a 750 square foot apartment. We didn’t make a cent on the house sale, but we were finally all the way debt free. We didn’t owe anyone anything. We were free of other things too. Because we made the decision to rent for a while, we were free of the worry of things breaking down. We were free of maintaining a property too. For the first few months in our new space, Mark would wake up on a Saturday, look at me, smile and say, “Guess what I’m not doing this weekend? I’m not (and then he would insert one of the following) raking leaves, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, or convincing the neighbor to split the cost of a new fence.”

Despite what others may say, no one knows if renting or buying is best for you but you. Consider both options and think not just about the financial side but the living side too.

What is the best way to support my fiancée who is struggling with feeling stressed?
It’s easy to think that if you make changes to lower stress, that will lower his stress and while that may be beneficial, we each need to find ways to address, manage, or reduce stress. Your ideas and recommendations may not be as helpful as the ones he discovers on his own. It depends on what he’s stressed about and how it’s affecting him and your relationship. Talking about it may help, but if you think it’s bigger than something you can handle, recommend that he gets professional help or talks to someone else.

How do you stay focused? And avoid getting overwhelmed by advertising and new ‘needs’?
It takes time. At first, I really had to really work at it, but I’ve found so many things I’m more interested in than acquiring new stuff that it just doesn’t have my attention anymore. My morning routine has been instrumental in helping me redirect my energy and figure out how I want to spend my resources.

This might help too.

What can I recommend to my daughters for paying off their student loans?
For any debt repayment and money management, I recommend following Dave Ramsey’s baby steps.

How do you talk about simplicity without sounding too preachy/judgy.
How you talk about it and how people receive it are two different things. For instance if two people read one of my articles about simplifying, one may think it was helpful, and the other may think it’s preachy or judgy. That has very little to do with me.

When I feel defensive about someone telling me something and think they are judging me, I know that I’m judging me, and perhaps it’s time to make a change. It took me a really long time to get there.

What was the hardest thing for you to learn about simplicity?
Maybe this.

Thanks so much for your questions! I’m live on Instagram almost every Monday at 5pm Eastern (NYC time) to talk about different areas of simplicity and answer your questions. If you submitted a question that I didn’t get to here, I will answer on a future Instagram Live talk. Please join me. Here’s the schedule for the next few weeks:

Monday, August 13th: The art of No-ing
Monday, August 20th: Becoming Debt Free
Monday. August 27th: Digital Simplicity

The post How to Simplify Your Life: gifts, downsizing, wardrobe, work and other good stuff appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

Journaling Prompts to Relieve Stress: 10 for Morning + 10 for Evening

Be More With Less - Mon, 07/30/2018 - 10:18

The stress we carry can feel heavier first thing in the morning and just before we fall asleep. During the day, stress may weigh on us but there is plenty of distraction; work, family, appointments, to-do lists, our digital devices and other daily bits and pieces can keep us just above the spiral. It’s in those quiet moments on each side of sleep when we have time to get carried away by our thoughts. These journaling prompts to relieve stress can help us calm and engage our busy minds.

Journaling can help us move through stress, and even let go of some of it. By writing it down, we can see what’s in our control and what isn’t (most of it isn’t). Or, we can write about other things to add perspective, clarity, distraction and even humor when we may not feel like laughing. Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar, spelling or other editing. Just take the stress off of your insides and put it on paper. Looking at the words will help you see things for what they really are, maybe lead to action (maybe not), and will give you room to breathe easier. 

If you don’t know where to start, use one of the writing prompts below first thing in the morning or just before you fall asleep.

Writing Prompts: morning

When I wake up, my mind wants to jump into everything. It wants to know … What’s happening today? What about that thing that’s bothering me? When will I have coffee? What’s going on with everyone I love? Many other questions and thoughts pop up too which is why my morning routine is so important. I know what I’m going to do when I wake up so my mind can calm down a little bit. The morning routine adds a little bit of certainty to the uncertainty of life.

When you start to journal, jot down one of these prompts at the top of the page, set a timer for fifteen minutes and go. At the end of fifteen minutes, stand-up, take a deep breath in and let it all go. Notice if you feel lighter or if you feel like writing more. The journaling process is just for you. You don’t have to share it or even reread it. Use the prompts that work for you and let the rest go.

1. Even though I’m working through a stressful situation, I know the following five things will make me feel better (add at least one of these things to your to-do list, to the top of the list).

2. How do I feel in my body right now? Where am I holding my stress and tension?If I was talking to a five-year-old, how would I describe how I was feeling?

3. Describe a place you’ve always wanted to visit. How would it feel to book the trip? What would you pack? How long would you stay?

4. The best advice I’ve ever received is …

5. Describe that one friend who makes you laugh so hard you cry. Recall one of those times when you couldn’t stop laughing.

6. Even though I can’t change my situation today, if I do this one tiny thing, I’ll be moving in the right direction.

7. Instead of thinking about this problem (that I have no control over) today, this is what I can do to help someone else.

8. What are you holding on to that’s holding you down?  What can you let go of right now (without losing a thing)? – I borrowed this from these summer journaling prompts.

9. Make a list of ten things you can do to take really good care of yourself today.

10. Even though I’m stressed or upset, I can’t help but smile when …

Writing Prompts: evening

My favorite time to think all the thoughts is just before I close my eyes to sleep (and occasionally when I wake up in the middle of the night). You may notice your thoughts run in loops, never fully solving a problem or getting you anywhere but closer to the morning. Don’t go there. As soon as you notice that your brain is spinning, grab a pen and notebook, write down one of these evening journaling prompts at the top of the page and turn your thoughts into words.

1. This might keep me up at night unless I write it down.

2. Write about the most peaceful place you’ve ever visited or heard about.

3. If I let go of this situation completely, this is what it would feel like.

4. If I still feel like I need help working through this tomorrow, I’ll ask the following people or Google this question.

5. Aside from my thoughts, here are some other things that may be keeping me up at night. What would it be like if I eliminated them from my life for thirty days?

6. Where do I want to visit in my dreams tonight?

7. This is what I would tell my best friend if she was struggling or having trouble falling asleep and called me right now.

8. The funniest movie I ever watched was _____________. Here’s why it made me laugh so hard.

9. Write about building your perfect sandwich (yes total distraction). What’s on it, what does it look like, where are you when you are devouring it?

10. I promise to revisit this in the morning, but tonight I’ll leave it on paper.

Journal when you need it most with one of these prompts, or one of your own, or challenge yourself to journal every day for a whole month. Even just a few minutes a day will help you create a practice so stressful situations don’t always feel like an emergency or crisis. Daily journaling will help you create a reserve of calm and resilience to relieve stress and allow you to respond to stress in a more calm, thoughtful, healthy way.

The post Journaling Prompts to Relieve Stress: 10 for Morning + 10 for Evening appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

33 Little Lessons from Minimalist Fashion Challenge Project 333

Be More With Less - Wed, 07/25/2018 - 13:47

I’ve been dressing with 33 items or less every 3 months for the last 8 years. Minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 started as a 3-month challenge to dress with 33 items or less. It made such a positive difference in my life that I never stopped.

Below are 33 little lessons I’ve learned from Minimalist fashion challenge Project 333.

1. I need way less than I think to be happy.

2. Shopping doesn’t cure boredom, curiosity does that.

3. Just because something fits me well doesn’t mean I need it in every color.

4. Washing clothes in cold water and line drying them helps them last longer.

5. I never need more space, only less stuff.

6. People care more about what they wear than what I wear.

7. Comparison makes me feel like I’m not good enough.

8. I am.

9. Advertising makes me feel like I don’t have enough.

10. I do.

11. If I wait 30 days before buying something, I’ll likely forget about it.

12. I’d rather spend my free time hiking or writing instead of shopping.

13. I enjoy knowing that I can carry my entire 33-item capsule wardrobe in a carry-on bag when traveling.

14. When I’m not focused on what’s missing from my wardrobe, I can appreciate what I have.

15. There are so many things I’d rather think and talk about than what’s on sale, or where you got that dress/purse/shirt.

16. Clothes are easier to quit than carbs.

17. Investing in one $100 dress that actually fits you saves more time and money than spending on five $25 dresses through-out the year.

18. My 33 item wardrobe doesn’t work for everyone, but people from around the world (women, men, students, professionals, entrepreneurs, stay-home parents, world travelers …) with different jobs, lifestyles, and taste in clothing have made Project 333 work for them.

19. The best things are never things.

20. Most of my items work all year-long. Even though I live in a 4-season state, more than 50% of my wardrobe works for every season.

21. When you announce that you are trying minimalist fashion challenge Project 333, well-meaning friends and family will stop buying you clothing (that you never wore anyway).

22. Mornings are easier with fewer options.

23. Dressing with less saves you money.

24. Simplicity is contagious.

25. Completing a challenge builds confidence.

26. Fewer decisions about what to wear allow more clarity for more important choices.

27. This is not a challenge in suffering. If something needs replacing, I replace it.

28. It takes time to figure out what really fits your body and your lifestyle.

29. I am not my past purchases. Now that I’ve let it all go, I let the guilt and shame of overspending and holding on for so long go too. I’ve paid enough. You have too.

30. Most of my clothes have lasted way longer than I thought they would.

31. When I think I’m frustrated or bored with my wardrobe, I think about what’s really going on. My emotions rarely have anything to do with my clothes anymore.

32. Project 333 inspires interesting conversations and beautiful friendships (see hashtag #project333 on Instagram).

33. Simple is the new black.

To learn more about minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 …

If you already practice Project 333 or have tried the challenge before, tell me about it! Comment here with a little lesson you’ve learned along the way.

The post 33 Little Lessons from Minimalist Fashion Challenge Project 333 appeared first on Be More with Less.

Categories: Wellness

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