Sudden Wake-Up Calls 

by Kevin Stacey

© 2002  TrainRight, Inc.

A sudden wake-up call is any event that immediately causes an epiphany in your life. It could be an accident, a close call, a health scare, or anything that shakes you out of your comfort zone and reminds you that life is fragile and temporary. The perspective shift that a sudden wake-up call provides sharpens the focus on the lens through which we view life. For example, you may believe that you have a lot of problems, and things aren’t going they way you would like. Then, all of a sudden, something can happen to you that makes you say, "I wish I didn’t waste so much of my energy on those problems for all of that time, because now I see, in the grand scheme of things, they’re really not that important." In fact, after a wake-up call, you may long for a return back to the way things used to be! Most of the time, a sudden wake-up call will cause you to re-evaluate your life, what is truly important, what is trivial, and what you’ve been overlooking and taking for granted.

Some of us have had a sudden wake up call, some of us perhaps will in the future. People that have overcome wake-up calls with their health amaze me. I’ve spoken with several cancer survivors at my talks and their strength is so inspiring. They all say that the little things in life that they used to stress over are now just meaningless. In fact, the highest level of perspective can be "any day above the ground is a good day!"

My wake-up call occurred when I lost my voice due to an apparent infection, and it took weeks to return. Imagine how upsetting that is for someone who speaks for a living. After many tests and not a little anxiety, my physician diagnosed the problem as acid reflux disease. Though previously I had no symptoms, stress was causing stomach acid to flow backwards into my larynx, damaging my vocal ability and causing the delay in healing and the return of my voice. It was then that said to myself, "It’s time to make some serious changes." I needed to focus less on what was wrong with the world and my life and more on myself and what I choose to internalize and dwell on. Mostly, I needed to slow down and take life one event at a time, one day at a time.

Oddly enough, although wake-up calls are initially traumatic, many people are grateful to have received one after the fact. Grateful because it made them stronger, gave them new insights, taught them a lesson they needed to learn or changed the way they live. Even a sports injury that results in being off your feet for 6 weeks and helps you to slow down to see things you’ve never seen before in your usual rushed state has value to it. While my wake-up call may feel minor compared to many other stories I’ve heard, I’m grateful that it occurred at a relatively young age when I was able to do something about it.

The worst part of a sudden wake-up call is the accompanying sense of regret for lost time, wasted energy and missed opportunities that can’t be replaced. But the best part of sudden wake-up call is the new power of conviction it often leaves behind. Fortunately, you can create the effect of a sudden wake-up call without experiencing a major tragedy or other trauma in your life. Simply ask yourself, "What is it costing me? What does it cost me when I give away my peace of mind to external situations, allow myself to get caught up in things, and fail to be present in the moments of my life? What does that cost me physically, professionally, spiritually, intellectually, and in my relationships?"

If you ask yourself these questions every day, you will conclude, hopefully long before a sudden wake-up call takes you by surprise, that "It’s Just Not Worth It." Otherwise, know that lessons in life are presented to us over and over in various forms until we learn them, until we can say with conviction, "Thank you for the lesson. I got it and don’t need another."

About the Author

Kevin Stacey helps companies and professionals achieve maximum productivity and effectiveness through stress management and time management training.  He is available to speak on these topics.  For more information visit or call 1-800-603-7168.

© 2002 Permission is granted to reprint this article in print or on your web site so long as the paragraph above is included and contact information is provided to   Thank you.