Ten years ago this week, I started Be More with Less.
Across the blog and social media communities, tens of millions of people have connected to this Be More with Less philosophy and message over the last ten years: “Simplicity is the way back to love.”
That one sentence is the heart of all of this. It’s been the guiding force behind why simplicity has been so powerful in my life. It’s brought me me back to love, back to health and back to me.
That’s why I can do my work with such conviction and tell you that simplicity can bring you back to love, back to health and back to you.
You’ll find that message (maybe not in those exact words) in every article, book, course and presentation I’ve ever made. Over the last ten years, I’ve learned a lot about writing, connecting, business and myself. The following life lessons serve me in work and my day-to-day life.
10 Life Lessons
1. Consistency matters more than intensity.
Every big change is the result of 100 tiny steps and they all count. A little bit each day is more powerful and sustainable than trying to make every new habit stick overnight or in 21-days or less. From writing to being well, consistency matters.
I have to work on myself every day. Feeling calm and centered doesn’t come naturally. I over react when I want to under react. I hold on when I mean to let go. In between all the lovely parts are messy parts. Sometimes I think I’ve got it all together but unless I’m intentionally focused, I’m all over the place. Living with less, practicing a morning routine, and taking really good care of myself helps me be more me. A little bit each day matters more than trying to squeeze it all in over a weekend. Consistency matters more than intensity.
2. Growth is never about one thing.
My business didn’t grow just because I wrote three posts a week for the first year or just because I was featured in a magazine or on podcasts or other sites. My social media numbers didn’t grow just because the algorithms liked me one week or just because someone with a big following shared something of mine. It’s been the combination of all of those things and more.
From business growth to personal growth, searching for one thing that is going to make everything better is a waste a time. There’s no one thing, no exact recipe. That’s why I keep trying new things and don’t count on one thing to be the thing.
3. I can do it alone but it’s better when we do it together.
I’ve had help right from the beginning. I didn’t know how to set up web hosting or install a theme when I started. I didn’t know what a plug-in was. Somethings I figured things out on my own (even though it wasn’t pretty), but most things required help from people who knew more than I did and that is still the case today in work and life.
From tech advice or brainstorming with fellow creatives to a friend telling me how to cook something or a therapist helping me figure out feelings I can’t work out on my own, my life is better when we do it together.
4. Keep things simple.
Simplicity has transformed my life and my work. Things build up and get complicated, but I keep coming back to simplicity. It means saying no, cutting things out, streamlining and sometimes stepping back to really see what has to change. Keeping things simple isn’t always the easy choice, but practice anyway. The simplest version of something is almost always the most appealing, most compelling, and most sustainable.
5. You have to do things you don’t want to do so you can do the things you want to do.
I wrote a whole chapter about this in Soulful Simplicity. I didn’t want to clean out my garage or spend years paying off debt but I did want to be clutter-free and debt-free. I didn’t want to write a book proposal (over and over again) but I did want to write books. The list goes on and on so now it comes more easily. I’m more accepting of the things I don’t want to do if they will allow me to welcome what I do want into my life.
6. I will not say yes when my heart says no.
Most of the time, when presented with an opportunity or invitation, I know the answer. My heart knows long before I take time to consider what I’ll say. When I think about saying yes when my heart says no, I can feel it in my body. I might clench my teeth, squeeze my hands, or feel stress where there should only be light. For many years, I ignored those outside signs of inside struggle, but now I pay attention.
7. You can get started before you know what you are doing.
Never wait until you think you know it all or until you think you have it all figured out because when you start, you usually discover that you really don’t know what you need to know and the only way to know is by starting, stumbling and discovering what really matters.
8. I don’t have to explain or prove myself.
I’ve jumped through all the hoops and climbed all the ladders and what was promised wasn’t waiting at the top. Instead it was lonely, empty and disappointing. The only person who has to be ok with what’s going on in my life and in my heart is me. I’ll make decisions people don’t like without explanation instead of people pleasing my way into convincing myself I have it all wrong. I want everyone to be well and safe and happy but I refuse to spend any more time making sure my choices are pleasing to everyone.
9. Working harder is not the answer.
When deadlines loomed, or the work piled up, I used to wake up, coffee up and get to work. I’d work through lunch or stay up late trying to keep up. I finally realized that kind of frenetic effort doesn’t result in better work. Now if I feel pressured or panicky, I take a walk, eat a slow meal, take pictures of flowers, or write down my heart until I calm down.
Movement without stillness becomes burnout. Rest, recover and be kind to yourself as you find your way in work and in life. Leave the keeping up and catching up behind. Don’t be afraid to walk away and give things room to unfold as you remind yourself that everything will be ok even if it feels like things are falling apart. As Wallace Stevens said, “sometimes the truth depends on a walk around the lake.”
You will feel better and work smarter when you get back from your walk.
10. The next ten years are a mystery.
If you had told me ten years ago that I’d …
have an Instagram account
I would have laughed. I’m not sure I knew what Instagram or a podcast was then.
I learned a lot in ten years and I’ll be learning more over the next ten years. About what? I don’t know. If the last few months are any indication, I don’t know what’s coming. It’s uncertain. So if the only thing I continue to learn is how to settle into uncertainty, it will be another remarkable decade. I’m hopeful.
Be More with Less is not for all of the millions of people I mentioned earlier. I’m not for everyone but those who have found value here have become part of my family. If you are one of those like-hearted people, whether you’ve been here for ten years or one day, thank you. I’m so grateful we are doing this together.
Decluttering, creating capsule wardrobes, and reducing busyness are some of the ways we simplify our lives but simplicity is so much more than that. It’s about coming back to love, coming back to health, and coming back to ourselves.
Simplicity is the way back to love.