The Wakeup Call: When Things Don't Work As Planned

Last updated: July 2022

At some point on your life journey, we all will get that special wakeup call. I am not talking about the early morning phone call from the hotel front desk reminding us to get up early so we do not miss an important meeting. No this is the unexpected, unplanned, and unwelcome wakeup call no one wants. This wakeup call comes at that point when you suddenly discover things are not working the way you had planned.

When surprises hit us

I remember my father telling me that I would learn more about life when things are not going well rather than when things are going well. Like most teenagers I knew everything, but I never understood what he meant at the time. I always nodded in agreement, smiled, and tried not to look so puzzled.

Fortunately, age occasionally brings some benefits, like wisdom and insight into our lives. It was not until years later when I began to realize the true meaning of my dad’s advice. Said now in a different way: in life we are given many opportunities; some will be positive, and others will not. No matter how unpleasant an event may be, each event can offer us a chance to develop, learn, and a chance to excel. Too often in life we fail to see the opportunities for growth simply because we are focusing on our goals and on our “what if” possibilities.

We live our lives as though illness or death will never touch us. Then out of the blue along comes a prostate cancer diagnosis. Where did that come from? Here we are planning all the "what ifs" in our lives, and now we are being forced to ask ourselves: what possible benefit could come from a prostate cancer diagnosis?

A life-changing opportunity

Consider this example for a moment. Years ago, I very reluctantly accepted an invitation to go ice skating one evening. At the time I had a lot of pressing work that needed to be done, but I said yes and all the while kept thinking I should have said no. As fate would have it, an opportunity unexpectedly arrived that evening.

An attractive young woman smiled at me several times as she skated by. It did not take long for a conversation to start, and before long we were skating together hand in hand. At the close of the session, we agreed to meet again the following week. As with all plans made in New England in winter, a massive snowstorm changed the possibility of any meeting, and I unfortunately had no way to contact her. I presumed we would not meet again.

Weeks later another offer came along to go skating, and once again I reluctantly agreed to put on those rented ice skates for the last time. That lady? She became my wife. We were blessed with a daughter and son and several grandchildren. I often reflect on how I may have missed that opportunity to meet her by not taking advantage of that opportunity to put on a pair of rental skates.

Looking at life differently

Whenever your personal wakeup call comes along, my suggestion is try and take a deep breath. Then as you can, take some time to explore the many not-so-obvious opportunities that call may offer as you begin to look at life differently.

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