Thoughts for a New Year: Know Your Tribe

Last year I read a book called Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist. It’s more or less a story of Shauna’s life – the lessons she’s learned, the struggles she’s faced, the friendship and food she loves. It’s a beautiful, heartbreaking book and one that I think every woman should read. One idea she gives is to “know your tribe” – more on that in a minute…

The world we live in is busy. “Busy” is the new normal. Everyone is busy and we’ve forgotten what its like to just be. Work, school, family, church – demands are placed on our time and energy from every direction. Here’s the thing – we only have a limited amount of time and energy.

Yeah, yeah, 24 hours in a day. We know, we’ve heard it before. That’s why we have smartphones and 3G – so we can be constantly working and focused on something every minute of every day. It’s called multi-tasking.

Fine, you’ve figured out a way to squeeze more time out of your packed schedule. But you still have a limited amount of energy and no matter what tricks or supplements or energy drinks you use to stretch your body, eventually your energy will run out. No one has an endless supply.

Our time and energy should be treated as precious resources. Saying “yes” to every opportunity or request that comes your way is guaranteed to send you on the fast track to burn out. But, how can you say “no” when people are counting on you? You are needed. Your skills are valuable. You have responsibilities.

Here’s a tool to help determine when to say “yes” and when to say “no” – know your tribe. Your tribe is the community of people most important to you. The people with whom you spend time, talk to regularly, love unconditionally and share meals with often. They may be family members, maybe not. They may live next door or five states over. And your tribe will probably change as you go through different seasons of life. These are the people for whom you would drop everything at a moments notice.

When your tribe needs you, say yes. When your tribe has a question or a need or a demand on your time, say yes. That doesn’t mean you say no to everyone else. But for everyone else you check your calendar – if you have the time and energy available great, if not they will survive without you.

As we kick off 2012 with a list of resolutions and goals and a desire to live more meaningful lives, take a moment to figure out who’s in your tribe. Then make sure you’re saying “yes” to opportunities and obligations that are important and meaningful to you. Value your time and energy, spend them on the best this year has to offer.

Also, if you have a spare moment, check out Shauna’s blog and especially her recent post Present over Perfect.

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2 responses to “Thoughts for a New Year: Know Your Tribe

  1. Ruth Smith Dammann January 9, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    I have to ask . . . Am I tribe material?!

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