post written by: Marc Chernoff

8 Wake-Up Calls You Need to Receive


8 Wake-Up Calls You Need to Receive

For my 17th birthday, many moons ago, my grandfather on my mom’s side gave me four used flannel shirts that he no longer needed.  The shirts were lightly worn and in great shape; my grandfather told me he thought they would look great on me.  Unfortunately, I thought they were odd gifts at the time and I wasn’t thankful.  I looked at him skeptically, gave him a crooked half-smile, and moved on to the other gifts sitting in front of me.  My grandfather died two days later from a sudden heart attack.  The flannel shirts were the last gifts he ever gave me.  I regret the small thing I didn’t say when I had the chance – “Thank you Grandpa.  That’s so thoughtful of you.”

As you can imagine, this was a huge wake-up call for me.

Here are eight wake-up calls for you – a few important lessons worth learning before it’s too late:

1.  You might not have tomorrow to say, “I love you.”

About a decade ago a coworker of mine died in a car accident.  During his funeral several people from the office were in tears, saying kind things like: “I loved him.  We all loved him so much.  He was such a wonderful person.”  I started crying too, and I wondered if these people had told him that they loved him while he was alive, or whether it was only with death that this powerful word, love, had been used without question or hesitation.

I vowed to myself then and there that I would never again hesitate to speak up to the people I love and remind them of how much I appreciate them.  They deserve to know they give meaning to my life.  They deserve to know I think the world of them.

Bottom line:  If you love someone today, tell them.  If you appreciate someone today, tell them.  There might not be a tomorrow.  Today is the day to express your love and admiration.  Read 1,000 Little Things.

2.  Your judgments of others are inaccurate.

You will never know exactly what another person is going through or what their whole story is.  When you believe you do, realize that your assumptions about their life are in direct relation to your limited perspective.

Many people you believe to be successful are extremely unhappy.  Many people you think have it easy worked their tail off achieve what they have.  Many people who appear to be wealthy are in debt because of their extravagant tastes for material possessions.  Many people who appear to you to be old and uncool were once every bit as young and hip and inexperienced as you.

3.  Not trying is why most people fail.

It’s not the mistakes and failures you have to worry about, it’s the opportunities you miss when you don’t even try that hurt you the most.  Trying always leads to success regardless of the outcome.  Even mistakes and failures teach you what not to do next time.  Thus, every outcome is a lesson that makes you stronger and wiser.

In the end, there’s only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the failure to try.  The results you achieve are not based on what you plan to do or what you say you’ll do.  Your results come from what you actually TRY and DO.

4.  Patience does not mean waiting and doing nothing.

Patience involves productive activity.  It means doing your very best with the resources available to you, while understanding that the results you seek are worth the required time and effort, and not available elsewhere for any less time and effort.

Patience is the realization that the quality of your life is much more significant than the quantity of things you fill it with.  Patience is your willingness to accept and appreciate what you have right now, while you put forth a steady, focused effort into growing toward your dreams and goals.  Read The Power of Habit.

5.  You don’t need anything more to be happy.

Intuitively, you already know that the best stuff in life isn’t stuff at all, and that relationships, experiences and meaningful work are the staples of a happy, fulfilling life.  Yet you live in a consumer driven society where your mind is incessantly subjected to clever advertising ploys that drive you, against your better judgment, to buy material goods you don’t need or even want.

At a certain point, the needless material objects you buy crowd out the emotional needs advertisers would like you to believe they are meant to support.  So next time you’re getting ready to make an impulsive purchase, ask yourself if this thing is really better than the things you already have.  Or have you been momentarily tricked into believing that you’re dissatisfied with what you already have?

6.  You aren’t perfect, and neither is anyone else.

All humans are imperfect.  At times, the confident lose confidence, the patient misplace their patience, the generous act selfish, and the knowledgeable second guess what they know.

And guess what?  You’re human and so am I – we all are.  We make mistakes, we lose our tempers, and we get caught off guard.  We stumble, we slip, and we spin out of control sometimes.

But that’s the worst of it; we all have our moments.  Most of the time we’re remarkable.  So stand beside the people you love through their trying times of imperfection, and offer yourself the same courtesy; if you aren’t willing to, you don’t deserve to be around for the perfect moments either.

7.  All the small things make a big difference.

Life isn’t about a single moment of great triumph and attainment.  It’s about the trials and errors that get you there – the blood, sweat, and tears – the small, inconsequential things you do every day.  It all matters in the end – every step, every regret, every decision, and every affliction.

The seemingly useless happenings add up to something.  The minimum wage job you had in high school.  The evenings you spent socializing with coworkers you never see anymore.  The hours you spent writing thoughts on a personal blog that no one reads.  Contemplations about elaborate future plans that never came to be.  All those lonely nights spent reading novels and news columns and comics strips and fashion magazines and questioning your own principles on life and sex and religion and whether or not you’re good enough just the way you are.

All of this has strengthened you.  All of this has led you to every success you’ve ever had.   All of this has made you who you are today.  Read The Last Lecture.

8.  Excuses are lies.

Make no mistake, there is always a lie lingering in between a dream and too many excuses.  And the lie is you lying to yourself.

The excuses and explanations won’t do you any good.  They won’t add any value to your life or improve the quality of it by even the slightest margin.  To fulfill your calling and get where you wish to go in life requires more than just thinking and talking.  These feats require focused and sustained action.  And the good news is, you’re perfectly capable of taking whatever actions are necessary.  You just have to choose to actually do it.

No one else can succeed for you on your behalf.  The life you live is the life you build for yourself.  There are so many possibilities to choose from, and so many opportunities for you to bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.  Now is the moment to actually step forward.

Photo by: Raymond Larose

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49 Comments

  • Very true things to keep in mind. 3 & 4 go together and is where I struggle the most on a day to day basis, or more accurately I try things get distracted and go on to other things. You will always fail if you do not follow through.

  • Wonderful. Thank you for inspiring me daily. Also, I would love if you added a Pinterest share button. I love sharing your posts.

  • Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. It’s difficult to remember to say “I love you” because my family isn’t the type to show our emotions.

    Number two is a huge wakeup call me and it’s something that hits me so often. I often have judgments of others before I even know them, as we all naturally do, then I realize that I was completely wrong the moment I talk to them. There is just so much we don’t know. That is why I try my best to reserve my judgments.

  • This article is one of your best - honestly, it’s spot on. A few key words came to my mind as I was reading this:

    open-mindedness, willingness, forgiveness, acceptance, humility, responsibility, presence, commitment

  • Wow, I just had an argument with my husband… Then I read this and had to go say I love you before he went to sleep. Thank you for giving me the courage to do what is right even when I didn’t feel like it.

  • Yes, you’re making me think again. I appreciate the time you put into your site and social media channels every day. Your articles and shares always have a way of motivating me and keeping me on track.

  • Beautiful post, especially number seven. Great insight.

  • I try to read your blog before I scurry off to work each day. Today’s first wake-up call was stunning - not for the honesty in recognizing that you may not have tomorrow to say I love you - but because today is the ninth anniversary of my daughter’s death. She died very unexpectedly and very suddenly. I had tried to end every conversation with “I love you” before she died. Now, it is a conscious effort I make to be sure I let people know how much I appreciate them and if I do love them that I do. Because Marc is correct - you truly never know when life might change and they might be gone.
    Thank you for the poignant reminder.

  • Thanks for Number 6 especially today - I feel a whole lot better being allowed to be imperfect this morning ;). Now I need to reflect that with the others around me too today!

  • As I get ready to hit 50, I realize that I have received each of these wake-up calls, although I wasn’t always fully awake to appreciate them all! Which is why I both enjoyed and appreciate this article. Thank you!

    With regard to wake-up call no. 4, patience, today I published this blog article on the very subject. I hope it’s okay to share it with your readers - lifeskillstoolkits.com/patience-and-my-mums-tummy/

  • “4.  Patience does not mean waiting and doing nothing.” I think this is the wake-up call I needed the most. Very inspiring article… As always.

  • As always, you guys so eloquently summed up what is true. Thank you Marc and Angel for being AWESOME.

  • Amazing post again, thank you.
    ” No one else can succeed for you on your behalf. The life you live is the life you build for yourself. ” I know this and yet still I sit and wait for life to happen for me… and even I don’t know why.
    Makes me realise however futile it seems, I need to keep taking one small step at a time, and keep moving forwards.

  • Lovely. Simple, yet so impactful. Thank You.

  • Oh my Gawd !! Look at Item 5. It made a dent deep down in my pit of the stomach. Great things come in small packages - here it is. And what amazing timing… God sent!!

  • I lost my husband to a very aggressive cancer last year…from the time the dr’s said “brain tumor” til the end was only 3 months….

    Instead of planning our retirement I was planning a funeral.

    Say those things you need to say now…”I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you” now, right now before you are facing an cold, empty chair.

    Take all the coulda, wouldas, shouldas and crumple them into a shiny ball promising yourself that you will never have to come to terms with the word “regret”.

    S~

  • Love this article. I’ve been thinking a lot on number 1 lately and have used that as my guide to be a better wife. Our days are not gauranteed.

  • These are all so valuable, especially #2. If someone is rude or unkind to me I try to remember that he or she may be carrying something really heavy and that it affects behavior. We all have something.

    I would love it if you would create a printer-friendly version of your articles. I would love to print them out and put them in a binder but there is just too much stuff on the page.

  • My point is #3 and #6. “In the end, there’s only one
    thing that makes a dream
    impossible to achieve: the
    failure to try.”
    That’s what i need know. Thanks.

  • I like number seven. My life is inside a vortex and as I’m spinning uncontrollably this piece gives me comfort, knowing that all of my seemingly useless efforts are what make me unique. Thank you for a morning inspiration.

  • While all of these points struck home #8 hit a home run!

    Thank you for your posts. They make such a difference in my life, and reading the comments I realize so many other peoples lives too.

  • Thank you for sharing such great words of wisdom. All too often we get caught up with “Life” and it takes real effort to stay on track sometimes, and we tend to overlook the simple things in life that are truly important and necessary to create a happy and abundant life - but we are after all human. Thanks again Marc & Angel for sharing!!

  • Wonderful insights & reflections, really enjoyed reading this morning. Huge difference between ‘deciding & choosing’ in life’s lessons. We make so many quick decisions on a daily basis. Are we being thoughtful of others? Compassionate? From what place do we come to a determination of what is right and good? It really is all about the choices we make, in reference to judging others and ourselves. I just read a book called Working On Yourself Doesn’t Work, The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Change Your Life by Ariel & Shya Kane. I know, weird title, but the message is a good one. The suggestion is that the essence of ones life is made up of awareness of the choices we make in our thoughts. One can use an intellectually determined logical thought process (Decision) or one can be more aware & reflective from a heartfelt, thoughtful place (Choosing). What is right & good should always include a thought process. A negative is a negative & a positive is a positive. We simply do only have to choose with awareness what is good and right. That makes all the difference in altruistically making a difference in our lives and in the lives of others. What a wonderful world of choices!

  • Marc,

    Every single point in this article has truly inspired me, this is definitely one of your most poignant posts yet. Thanks so much for yet another beautiful article, and for sharing your words of wisdom once again :)

  • Another good one…all the way through. A couple of additions:
    2. Your judgments of YOURSELF are inaccurate. You cannot compare yourself to anyone but yourself, and you have to be balanced in knowing who you are.
    3. Patience is Faith over Time. My son is almost six so should I be concerned his college transcript? No, I’ll be patient and faith that in time college will be fine.

  • Amazing article, Marc! I mean that. Well written and so down to earth. All true.

    Both number 6 and number 7 had me asking myself many questions.
    Thank you.

  • Oopps! Forgot this one, been brewing for quite a while. A lot of your posts discuss dreams in a very vague way. I think (perhaps wrongly) that everyone actually knows what there dreams are. Or even just their dream job. I think the biggest wake-up call we need is to get the dream in place. I bounced my dream job off 8 of my closest friends and they all said I was one of the few people they knew that actually had a dream job in mind. So I say get your dream in mind, defined, refined and outlined so the planning can begin.

  • These Eight-point articles are interesting. The articles are actually a wake-up call to put me in the right mood of doing things correctly. Trying leads to success regardless of the outcome. If one fails to try, there will be no outcome. Thank you for the write up.

  • What great nuggets of wisdom - any one would improve our quality of life - all of them require a commitment to mindful living.
    Esp important is #7 - all the small things make a difference - as our consciousness is mostly made up from the choices we’ve made, however small, this begins the thing we call life as time goes on.

    Smart and enjoyable article.
    George

  • Wonderful post.

    I am working on my passion now, number 3 is spot on at the moment. Even though I am feeling a little stressed and scared, I am achieving my goal.

    Dreams do come true, if you work on them.

  • A million thank yous wouldn’t be enough to express the gratitude I feel towards both of you for writing such brilliant articles. Your words inspire me every single day in every way possible! Every time I read them, I wonder “How do these people know exactly the advice I need…” :-)

    This article particularly hit home… and hard! Especially #7 and #8… I always keep coming up with excuses to not do things. I really need to work on not lying to myself. Thank you again for the constant encouragement you provide through these articles… they always make my day. Bless u both!

  • Very accurate & good reminders. Inspirational :)

  • Thanks for being a lighthouse!
    You are the best.

  • @Dave: Absolutely true. What are you going to do differently today to follow through? Try using a to-do list and review it at the end of the day to see if you were able to complete your tasks.

    @Jeanie: Thank you. We don’t currently have a Pinterest share button on the site itself but you can install Pinterest’s browser plugin for easier sharing. We would love for you spread the word and share on your board.

    @Vincent: Thank you for being honest and sharing your thoughts. We all need to make a more of a conscious effort to not judge, for we have no idea what another person is going through or how deep their story is.

    @J.J.: All great words I can resonate with. Thank you.

    @Cathy: We all need that reminder sometimes. =)

    @Karen: Thank you for reading and supporting our work.

    @Tony: It’s mind blowing to think about, but every interaction has molded us into the person we are today. So much to be thankful for.

    @Victoria: It sounds like your daughter knew how very much you loved her by your constant words and deeds of loving expression. It also sounds like your friends and family did the same. Thank you for sharing your story. You have the very best guardian angel. =)

    @Martin: Realizing and accepting that we’re not perfect, and neither is anyone else, lets us learn from our mistakes while enjoying the journey.

    @Jehangir: I’m glad you can reflect on your wake-up calls and appreciate them. Thank you for sharing your article, I really enjoyed the segment on living in the moment.

    @Wellie: Thank you.

    @Erin: Sometimes we need a concept reiterated several times to grasp the full meaning behind it. =) Thank you for the kind words.

    @Sandy: Take your advice and do it! Trust yourself. Baby steps will eventually get you there, just keep moving forward. You can do it!

    @Lane: Thank you.

    @Bimal: You currently have everything you need to be happy. =)

    @everlastingdesigns: Reading a personal story such as yours really hits home and brings the message home. Thank you for sharing so we can all express our love and appreciation daily for those closest to us. Sending love and support your way.

    @Julie: Thank you.

    @Linda: You can copy and paste the article into Word and have a printer friendly version. Or you can buy our eBook – which helps keep this site going.

    @Icha: Take it and run with it! =)

    @Patti: You’re welcome. Each and every effort makes you the person you are today.

    @Karen: Thank you.

    @Dean: A little reminder every now and then never hurts, “we are after all human.”

    @Lisa: Great feedback, thank you for the book recommendation. We’ll check it out.

    @Inspired: As always, your words and encouragement make my day. Thank you.

    @David: Great additions, and you’re absolutely right. The judgments we carry of ourselves can be just as detrimental as the judgments of others. Also, the more we know about our dreams the better direction and forward process we can make.

    @Aaron: Yes, 6 and 7 are great self-reflection topics, I think. I’m glad you connected with those points.

    @Josiah: You’re welcome. So, what are you going to try today? =)

    @George: Agreed. The small things are often the big things. The key is to appreciate it all as it’s happening.

    @Shelly: Go get ‘em!

    @Jyotika, Bret, and CW: Thank you for the positive feedback!

  • Thank you! I really needed to see this today. :)

  • Wonderful reminder! Today I went to the Hindu Temple in Kauai again. I love it there (I’m attending Puga - one more time before i return home). On the way I saw a family hitchhiking, a mom, dad, 7 month old and a 5 year old. I picked them up - they didn’t have a car seat and I’ve never ever had a child in my car without one - I also have never picked up a hitch hiker in 35 years. It turned out they were also going to the temple - we went together and had an amazing experience. I’m so glad i didn’t prejudge them, or think too much about “oh my no car seat” before I decided to co-exist with this unique family on my spiritual adventure today.

  • I gain so much by reading these wise words. I look forward to each installment.

  • Thanks. These refreshed again my soul. :-) Great day to all!

  • marilyn bonacorso
    March 26th, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Wow, another great and inspirational read. I love it all, I need to share this with my daughter especially # 2. Thanks so much for such great reminders.

  • Amazing. #3 and #5 are simply mind stirring. Happiness is indeed here and now. Wonderful as ever. Thanks!

  • These are great things that must be remembered by all of us. If you can keep these advices at heart, you will surely understand what life is really about, and get to experience true happiness. I hope everyone will come to a point where they are truly satisfied with their lives.

  • Beautiful post. Sometimes in my daily grind I tend to lose sight of what is really important. Your posts are always the wake-up call I need. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • What an inspirational read. Thank you so much for sharing this!!

  • We are all great. Right now, we are all we will ever need to be. I can always improve me. Fundamentally, everyone, everywhere is Basic Goodness. Even those who are said to be “enemies.” I wonder if I am strong enough to tell them that they are or can be loved?

  • Thank you for a truly inspiring read! Honestly, this is one of the best blogs ever.

  • @Kim: Sounds like quite an adventure. Thanks for sharing your story.

    @Mike: Yes, you are strong enough. Tell them. =)

    @All: Thank you for the words of appreciation and kindness. Your comments mean so much to us.

  • I love what you said about excuses - they are my (our) worst enemy!

    Great post!!

  • Marc, what an intimate and beautiful story about your grandfather. Number 1 is such a profoundly important message. I had an opportunity to express my forgiveness to my husband for divorcing me after our son tragically died. He just couldn’t cope, and I knew that’s what it was. I am so grateful for that conversation because three weeks later he died. I’m sure it was of a broken heart.

  • I Love this soooo much. 1 - 8 are all so Great! Thanks.

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