* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts, challenges, Intentional Living

Will 2018 Be Your Year of Simple?

Seven years ago we made a life-changing decision to serve in the Peace Corps. We put in our notices at work, ended the lease on our apartment, and sold all of our furniture. We kept our winter clothes and yearbooks in storage with family and headed off to volunteer in Jamaica with the required maximum of two suitcases each.

Living with less was completely liberating. Not only did we have less stuff to keep track of, our weekly schedules in that rural Jamaican community were simplified, too. When we came home from work, we had time to read, journal, practice new recipes… In Jamaica, it was nearly impossible to get more than two real tasks done per day, so we became accustomed to a slower pace of life.

That simpler life was so much less stressful – it was something we vowed to keep in our lives moving forward. And we’re passionate about helping others do the same.

Simple living now plays a huge role in allowing us to travel more. We’ve learned to minimize our expenses, cut down our belongings, and prioritize our activities, which opens up money and time for more travel.

You don’t have to be a “digital nomad” like us and you don’t have to become a hard-core minimalist to do enjoy the benefits of simplicity. Just imagine…

If there was less on your plate, fewer decisions to be made, and less stress about money and relationships, could you be happier, healthier, and feel more at ease?

How would that change your life?

It’s not always easy to keep life simple. In fact, it’s often more challenging than “going with the flow” of our society. You have to be intentional (surprise! our favorite word).

If you know you want to simplify things, it can really help to have some support. That’s why we wanted to make sure you knew about a program we’re really excited about called: A Simple Year.

What is A Simple Year?

A Simple Year was created by one of our favorite bloggers, Courtney Carver of Be More With Less and founder of my favorite capsule wardrobe guide (which I’ve used to pack for our current year of travel). Here’s her description of why she created this program:

“I was surprised to learn that North Americans consume twice as many material goods today as we did 50 years ago. That means we have to spend more energy cleaning, managing, and organizing all our stuff – not to mention tracking things down that get lost in the clutter. We’re also more likely to carry a burden of debt from all our spending.

Our schedules are jam-packed, too. Most of us have filled our days full from beginning to end with time commitments. And we’re so exhausted that any free time we do have is spent staring at screens.

If only we could focus more on what truly matters in life!

Simplifying our stuff and our schedules is not easy. But intentional work likes this opens doors to a more fulfilling life. If you’re thinking about dedicating 2018 to reducing your stress, creating healthy habits, and unlocking the freedom to do more of what you’re passionate about, then A Simple Year may be just what you need to make lasting change.”

Courtney designed a year of guidance through an online course to help you simplify your life gently and with purpose. Each month has a theme, like Clutter, Busyness, Travel, Self-Care, Money, and Relationships – each led by a different expert.

How A Simple Year works:

  • Online lessons are released each month, each with a new theme like Money, Busyness, and Clutter
  • Tune in to live monthly webinars with expert coaches (or watch the recordings later)
    Join the optional Private Facebook Group to get support and connect with a like-minded community
  • Try out optional homework assignments (with surprise bonuses when you finish)
  • Includes life-time access to the lessons
  • What if I try it and don’t like it? If within 30 days, you decide A Simple Year isn’t right for you, they’ll send a full refund, no questions asked.

Some of the highlights you’ll get over the 12 months include:

  • Comprehensive guidelines on how to tackle the clutter – day by day, room by room – in a way that won’t overwhelm or confuse you
  • A slow-down guide for the chronically busy
  • How to declutter your digital world
  • The secret to a clutter-free kitchen
  • How to recalibrate your life to focus on passions like travel
  • Daily habits to minimize distractions and get more done
  • A mindful budgeting blueprint to save money and invest wisely
  • How to create a self-care habit that actually sticks
  • Establishing boundaries for work, technology, and life to protect what’s most precious
  • A guide to making the best food choices for your body
  • Gift-giving 101 – how to give more and spend less
  • How to reframe disappointment, anger and frustration into thoughts and actions that actually benefit your life

If you’re interested in learning more, check out Courtney’s Q&A webinar (sign up to get the recording by e-mail).

Or to read more about the program and/or sign up, head over to the Simple Year registration page now (affiliate link).

Cheers to a healthier, happier, simpler 2018!

2 thoughts on “Will 2018 Be Your Year of Simple?”

  1. Hello again and thanks Michele for your response to my last post. I seem to be having many life epiphanies these days and this post led me to connect a few more dots. I was going to post this very long response directly to the blog but didn’t want to overwhelm, but you likely screen responses anyway which makes great sense. Anyhow, here’s the response I composed in response to your ‘Simplify’ post. Also, we’re looking into making Georgetown our families first international trip, outside of Brasil. I’d be curious to learn what you think about family travel to this region.

    Here it goes….

    Your friend’s idea and Simple Year (SY) approach seems like a great idea that I’ll definitely check out. I think I’ll find great value in the content. I also submit for your consideration that none of this ‘works’ until one is ‘ripe’ for such a transition. The SY approach will, perhaps, provide the one positive example for someone who otherwise has only observed how to be a consumer. A consumer of all that is new and shiny; or something that I suddenly cannot live without, although I had been for the entirely of my life up to this point.

    The ‘ripeness’ I speak of relates back to this word ‘intent.’ Intent to do or be(come) what? As in, what is ones’s purpose or mission toward which one intends to direct one’s energy and life purpose. As in, what’s the point of all “this,” right? If this direction isn’t already present in one’s life then the next question is this: why simplify? Aren’t all of the things that we own what give us purpose of life? Such that we can be happy because the coolest, latest and best toys, gadgets and gizmos somehow complete or fulfill a void in our lives? Perhaps these things just help to distract us from focusing on what matters. It’s not that we don’t want to focus on items of most importance, but we just don’t know where to start. Life is very complex and it is made more so by all the stuff; it further distracts us from keeping our eyes on the prize. But isn’t the prize a home in the ‘burbs with two kids, a new car a big tv and the latest iPhone (kind of sounds like me). By the way, if you’re not family at with it, you really should watch George Carlin’s bit on “stuff.”

    I believe you two figured this out a long time ago, before your journey started, which is why I have quietly admired from afar for as long as you’ve been putting yourselves out into the world in this way. I only recently figured out my purpose; at work and home. Can we just agree that the plural of ‘purpose’ should be ‘pourpi’ I just think it sounds better than purposes; but I digress.

    As Penelope Cruz said in Vanilla Sky (2001) “Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around.”

    Peace and happiness to you both. Thank you for showing up, being present and authentically sharing your truths with the world such that others can see an(other) example of a life better lived than the one we’ve been programmed, by culture and the media, to value.

    Much love and respect,



    1. Thanks Bill (Jedd here) for this amazing comment and response. I agree with your comment about “that none of this ‘works’ until one is ‘ripe’ for such a transition.” One quote Michelle shared with me that has become an important part of my life is “if it’s important to you you’ll find a way, if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse”. I used to make pronouncements of wanting to traveling (and doing a bunch of other things) but I came to realize later on that I would make excuses and justifications as to why I didn’t. I realized that though I thought it was important, it really wasn’t. As you mentioned, I wasn’t ripe, or ready.

      Regarding the word intent/intentional, for Michelle and I, this value of making conscious choices or decisions for our lives because we believe it to uphold our greatest values is a daily practice and struggle. I look back at my life and think of how many decisions I made that were not really my own because; I didn’t even think about it, I was pressured on influenced by others, and lastly, I didn’t realize that such a practice existed. As one of my best friends told me, it was the difference between surviving and truly living. We wanted ownership of our lives and thus we started to examine almost every aspect, including our stuff. Why did we own something? What do we really need in our lives to help support the life we wanted to live. Do we really need furniture? Art? Electronics? In some cases the answer is yes. In some cases no. The point is the intentional thought process to examine each thing and actually make a determination and actually rid ourselves of unnecessary things (to make space for the necessary things). If you haven’t yet, check out the book “Essentialism” because it takes this to the next level. What areas in our lives can we let go, say no, and deem essential vs. trying to do all the things. And again, more importantly, do we give conscious thought and effort to these choices? Are they ones that reflect our highest values and what’s most important to us?

      We should definitely get coffee when we’re back in town. 🙂

      Also, George Town was awesome and we really, really think it’s a great place to start international travel. Is it the prettiest place in the world? Not really. But culturally it’s very diverse, very safe, lots of great food, affordable, and people understand English which is really, really helpful. Let us know if you would like more info about it. Michell is posting more about our experience there on our intentionaltravelers.com site.

      Thanks again for your thoughts Bill and hope we can talk more about this soon.

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