10 wake up calls most people receive too late in life, according to psychologists

Life is a constant learning curve. We stumble, we fall, but most importantly, we grow. Sometimes, though, there are wakeup calls that we don’t recognize until it’s too late.

These are the moments of realization that psychologists say many of us miss, until the alarm clock of life jolts us awake.

We’re going to delve into ten wakeup calls that most people get too late in life. And hopefully, this can help you recognize these moments sooner rather than later.

Let’s get started. 

1) The Great Illusion of Time

There’s a common phrase you’ll hear tossed around, “I’ll do it later.”

In our heads, there seems to be this vast expanse of time stretching ahead of us, waiting to be filled with all the things we want to do. However, psychologists warn that this is an illusion.

The harsh wakeup call here is realizing that time isn’t as abundant as we believe it to be. We wait for the perfect moment to start pursuing our dreams or taking risks, and before we know it, years have slipped by.

The truth is, the ‘perfect moment’ rarely comes, and time waits for no one. Realizing this earlier rather than later can make a significant difference in how we choose to live our lives.

Don’t wait for ‘someday.’ Make your move now.

2) The Importance of Self-Care

I remember the days when I used to believe that working round the clock was the only way to success. The thought of taking a break or time out for myself seemed like an unnecessary luxury.

It wasn’t until I hit burnout, both mentally and physically, that I realized how wrong I was. Putting yourself last on your priority list is a recipe for disaster.

Famous psychologist Carl Rogers said, “When I look at the world I’m pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic.”

This quote resonates with me now more than ever. We need to prioritize ourselves and our mental well-being to truly make a difference in the world.

The wakeup call here is understanding that self-care isn’t selfish. It’s essential.

Taking time out for yourself, prioritizing your mental health, and making sure you’re in a good place emotionally is as important as any other task on your to-do list.

It’s never too late to start looking after yourself. So go ahead, put yourself first. You deserve it.

3) The Pain of Living Unauthentically

Living a life that isn’t true to who you are is like wearing a mask all the time. It’s suffocating, uncomfortable, and incredibly exhausting.

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, once said, “Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.”

This quote rings true when it comes to living an authentic life. Being honest with yourself about who you are and what you want is the key to happiness and fulfillment.

The wakeup call here is realizing that living to meet others’ expectations or societal norms can lead to a life of regret and dissatisfaction.

The pain of being inauthentic is far greater than the temporary discomfort of being true to yourself and possibly facing criticism or judgment.

Life is too short to live it as someone else. So take off the mask, embrace your true self, and live your life authentically.

4) The Regret of Neglected Relationships

In the hustle and bustle of our lives, we often forget to nurture the relationships that matter the most to us. I remember a time when I was so caught up in my work that I didn’t realize how distant I’d become from my loved ones.

Renowned psychologist John Bowlby once said, “What cannot be communicated to the [m]other cannot be communicated to the self.”

This quote is a powerful reminder that our relationships, especially those with our closest family and friends, are mirrors to our inner selves.

The wakeup call here is that neglected relationships can lead to deep regret later in life. We may not realize it in our youth, but as we grow older, the quality of our relationships often determines the quality of our life.

Take a moment to reach out to your loved ones. Tell them how much they mean to you. Because in the end, it’s not the wealth or success but the people in our lives that truly matter.

5) The Destructive Nature of an Inflated Ego

Now, this is a wake-up call that I hold close to my heart. As the author of Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego, I’ve spent countless hours delving into the destructive nature of an inflated ego.

An unchecked ego can lead us to believe we’re always right, that we’re superior to others, and it can prevent us from learning and growing. It’s often not until later in life that people realize how their ego has isolated them, created unnecessary conflict, and hindered their personal growth.

Carl Jung, a titan in the field of psychology, once articulated a thought that pierces the heart of this matter: ‘Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.’ This profound insight serves as a guiding light in our journey towards recognizing and overcoming the limitations imposed by our egos.

Buddhism teaches us about the importance of humility and compassion, about seeing ourselves as part of a larger whole rather than as superior individuals. It’s about understanding that our ego is not our identity, but merely a construct that can be reshaped.

In my book, I explore this concept in detail, sharing insights on how to live a life with maximum impact and minimum ego. The sooner we wake up to the damage an inflated ego can cause, the quicker we can start living a more fulfilled and harmonious life.

6) The Misconception of Success

We’ve all been fed the narrative that success equals a high-paying job, a big house, and a fancy car. But what if I told you that this is not always the case?

Dr. Abraham Maslow, a well-known psychologist, once said, “If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”

This quote speaks volumes about the true meaning of success.

The wakeup call here is understanding that success isn’t just about material possessions or societal status. It’s about fulfilling your potential and doing what truly makes you happy.

Chasing after someone else’s definition of success can lead to a life filled with stress and dissatisfaction.

Redefine success on your own terms. Because at the end of the day, true success is living a life that brings you joy and fulfillment.

7) The Power of Positive Thinking

Our thoughts have the power to shape our reality. If we continuously entertain negative thoughts, we’re likely to experience a life filled with negativity.

Dr. Albert Ellis, a prominent psychologist and psychotherapist, once said, “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.”

The wakeup call here is understanding that your mindset and the thoughts you choose to entertain can significantly impact your life’s trajectory.

Negativity breeds more negativity. Make the conscious decision to adopt a positive mindset and watch how it transforms your life. Always remember, you are in control of your own destiny.

8) The Trap of Comfort Zones

I remember a time when I was so afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone that I missed out on countless opportunities. It was easier to stick with what I knew than to venture into the unknown.

Psychologist and humanistic philosopher Erich Fromm once said, “Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.”

This quote highlights the courage it takes to step out of your comfort zone and embrace the uncertainties of life.

The wakeup call here is realizing that staying in your comfort zone can lead to stagnation. True growth and real progress happen when we dare to step outside what feels familiar and comfortable.

Take that leap of faith. Embrace the unknown, because that’s where the magic really happens.

9) The Deception of Perfection

We live in a world where we’re constantly bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ lives, bodies, careers. This creates an unrealistic benchmark of perfection that we strive to achieve, often leading to disappointment and self-criticism.

Carl Jung once said, “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” This underscores the importance of self-acceptance in our quest for perfection.

The wakeup call here is realizing that the idea of perfection is a deception. It’s an unattainable standard that can cause undue stress and self-doubt.

Instead, strive for progress, not perfection. Be kind to yourself, accept your flaws and imperfections – they make you uniquely you. Remember, perfection is not the goal; self-improvement is.

10) The Myth of Multitasking

In today’s fast-paced world, we’re often praised for our ability to juggle multiple tasks at once. However, contrary to popular belief, multitasking can actually be counterproductive.

As Carmine Gallo says, “Multitasking, when it comes to paying attention, is a myth.” He further adds that “The brain naturally focuses on concepts sequentially, one at a time.”

The wakeup call here is understanding that multitasking often leads to more mistakes and less efficiency.

Rather than trying to do everything at once, focusing on one task at a time can lead to better productivity and quality of work.

Let’s break the myth. Single-tasking is the new multitasking. Prioritize your tasks and tackle them one at a time for better results.

11) The Ignored Call of Intuition

Looking back, there were numerous times when I chose to ignore my gut feelings, thinking they were irrational or baseless. But over time, I’ve realized that intuition is a powerful tool that often guides us in the right direction.

Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology, once said, “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”

The wakeup call here is realizing that intuition isn’t just a random feeling. It’s an instinctive response that taps into our subconscious mind, providing insights that our conscious mind may overlook.

When your intuition speaks, listen to it. It might just lead you down the right path.

Conclusion

Each one of these insights can serve as a catalyst for profound change in our lives. They remind us to live in the present, to prioritize self-care, to keep our ego in check, and to express our emotions freely.

Unfortunately, many of us hear these alarms too late. But the good news is, it’s never too late to make a change.

If any of these wake-up calls resonate with you, don’t hit the snooze button. Instead, take them to heart and start making changes today.

For more insights on living a mindful and fulfilling life, consider checking out my book Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego. It delves deeper into these principles, offering practical tips and strategies for integrating them into your daily life.

Remember, life is happening right now. So let’s ensure we’re not just surviving it, but truly living it.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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