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Courtney Carver

In 2010, after spending much of her adult life tired, overworked, stressed, and sick, Courtney Carver created Be More With Less ( and the minimalist fashion challenge Project 333. Her goal was to live with less clutter and less stress — and have more space to be herself. She strives to help others discover the joy in having less through her journey of big — and small — changes.

Experience Life | Why did you create Be More With Less?

Courtney Carver | After getting really sick in 2006, and eventually being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I started making lots of changes in my life in an effort to eliminate as much stress as possible. I decided to trade my crazy, busy, debt-filled life for freedom and happiness. I noticed that the common thread throughout all of the changes I was making was simplicity. In 2010, I started to share the changes I had made, what I was learning, and connect with other people who were interested in discovering the benefits of living with less.

EL | How and why did you create Project 333?

CC | Even though I had been simplifying my life for many years, I had put my closet on the back-burner. I didn’t want to go there! I finally decided that my slow and steady approach to change wouldn’t work with my clothes so I decided to create a three-month challenge. I committed to (and invited blog readers) to join me in dressing with 33 items — or less­— including clothing, accessories, jewelry and shoes for three months. I learned so much about what I really wanted and needed in my closet. Seven years later, I still dress with 33 items or less, and tens of thousands of people from around the world have tried the challenge. It makes me really happy to see what an impact this has had on closets and hearts from so many different walks of life.

EL | What is the biggest thing you’ve learned through the process of decluttering your life?

CC | I’ve learned so much and each lesson has been important, but one of the biggest is that I need way less than I think to be happy.

EL | What are your top three tips for someone that is overwhelmed in their life, and seeking to start simplifying?

CC | I think understanding why over how, and having strategies around the bigger picture is important. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Start small. I mean really small. If you want this to be a lifestyle change and not just another attempt at getting organized, consider a slow and steady approach. After all, if organizing worked, you’d be organized by now.
  • Plan to be uncomfortable. There may come a time when empty shelves and sparse calendars make you uncomfortable. To ease the pain, you might want to buy more, and schedule more. Instead, think about how you really want to spend your time. Know what matters to you. Trade shopping for self-care, and remind yourself that the discomfort will pass.
  • Do what’s best for you. Don’t worry about following the advice of every popular minimalist or decluttering expert. You don’t have to wear the same shirts Mark Zuckerburg wears, or create the perfect capsule wardrobe collection. You don’t have to live in a tiny house or carry all your belongings in a backpack. Don’t worry about how many items you own or don’t own. Don’t compare your journey to another. You can watch your favorite movies and buy what you need and love. You can call yourself a minimalist or not. This is your journey, your minimalism, your life.

EL | What are the biggest barriers you have found in decluttering and simplifying your life?

CC | Because I have such a strong connection to WHY I wanted to simplify, I didn’t run into many barriers. I wanted my life back! The biggest obstacle I hear from others is not having a good support system. If your friends and family don’t support you, it can be more challenging. Keep going though. What usually happens is that the positive change you create inspires others to change too.

EL | What are the largest benefits of simplifying your life?

CC | You naturally create more space and time but the largest benefits are more love, health, presence, and peace.

EL | How does your life look differently now, than it did before you began Be More With Less and Project 333?

CC | I’m healthier today than I was prior to my MS diagnosis. I live in a much smaller space, work for myself, travel more, and sleep much better.

EL | Do you have any upcoming plans or exciting ventures you’d like to share with our readers?

CC | My new book, Soulful Simplicity with be published December 26 by TarcherPerigee a division of Penguin Random House.

Find Courtney at and on Instagram @bemorewithless.

Photography by: Jamie Griffin
Casie Leigh Lukes

Casie Leigh Lukes is a Twin Cities-based writer.

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