Is there any such thing as a “wake-up call” in life?

Bruce Mars on Unsplash

We all assume that a wake-up call is like something we see in the movies — an inciting incident. Wall Street trader has gone bankrupt. Then, within a short timeframe, he turns his life around. He becomes rich again through a new business venture and goes on to avenge those who disparaged him. Or, a bride abandoned at the altar. She later finds the true love of her life and rejects her ex who realizes his loss and comes running back to her. Both the trader and the bride claim that their misfortune was indeed a wake-up call.

The reality is that when these moments of adversity happen to us, though many people do not respond, some of us do. However, it takes much longer than seen in the movies. This is because most of us are still fully vested and entrenched in our present lives. We see the need to change but we don’t feel it enough to take action.

Immediately after the inciting incident, some restraints at hand serve as obstacles to change. The trader must perhaps face legal action. The bride might be so hurt and ashamed of being rejected that it would take a long time for her to heal.

Rather, the wake-up call turns out to be a reflection point — the first step on our long path of redemption. The reality is that change requires us to move from thought to action. This step alone takes much more time than many of us realize.

It took me almost seven years from my supposed wake-up call — a bad bank deal that nearly ruined my company coupled with a family catastrophe — for me to start changing.

Self-awareness in real life happens slowly. It is more like day-to-day growth than a turbo-boosted revolution that happens at the speed of a 2-hour Hollywood movie.

Don’t judge yourself for not changing fast enough. It will happen as long as you have the intention and the resolve.

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I rise daily at 5 am, meditate, read and journal on my Self-awareness journey. Some of my reflections make it to my blog; others don’t. (

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