scalesLast weekend, when I went to bed on Friday night, I opted not to set an alarm for Saturday morning. This is usually a safe bet, since while I don’t get up at the crack of dawn, I do not have the gift of sleeping long and late. It’s not a big stretch to figure that I can spare myself an alarm on this one day a week, but still be up, breakfasted, and writing by a reasonable hour, say, nine o’clock. Usually I’m at a coffee shop on Saturday mornings because I get easily distracted by the need for housework. Yardwork. Laundry. Errands.

You know what that’s like.

Imagine my shock when I woke up on Saturday morning and the clock said 9:04.

That just never happens to me. I guess I needed it.

So it was 10:15 before, still groggy, I ordered the latte that justifies my occupancy of a table until lunch time.

I never did quite catch up that day with my writing goal. I did have a lovely leisurely lunch with my adult daughter. I did check a bunch of errands off the list. I did push through a couple of loads of laundry. I did go for a walk. I did pick up the phone to call my mother. I did cook and enjoy a healthy, balanced dinner. I did relax with a couple of episodes of a favorite show via Netflix.

But I was still behind. So on Sunday after church I determined to make up for lost ground on the manuscript. After all, I do have a contracted deadline to obligate, er, motivate, me.

But guess what? While I did write for several hours, I didn’t catch up. I prayed for a friend. I bought paint for my kitchen. (Do you have any idea how long it takes to choose a color with at least a 50 percent chance I won’t regret it before I get home?) I finished reading a purely recreational book. I cleaned off the top of the dryer—no small feat. I made another great dinner.

I still have a deadline, so I’ll have to catch up at some point.

I can be pretty driven. Even when I accomplish a lot, I think I should accomplish more. But there comes a time for each of us when we need to check in with the balance of life. Sometimes that means setting aside work goals in order to pay attention to the purpose and meaning that rise from the ordinariness of life.

So step back—without regret—and make sure your life is not headed for the tipping point.