a wake-up call

wake-up call

1. A phone call that one schedules to be placed to one's hotel room in order to be woken up at a certain time. I set an alarm and scheduled a wake-up call so there's no way I oversleep for the first conference session tomorrow.
2. An event that triggers a sense of urgency or the motivation to make a change. Harold's sudden chest pain was the wake-up call he needed to finally see his doctor. That terrible car accident was just the wake-up call I needed to quit my boring office job and start acting again.
See also: call
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a wake-up call

COMMON A wake-up call is something which shocks people, making them understand how serious a problem is and causing them to take action in order to solve that problem. These extreme weather patterns should act as a wake-up call to our complacent leaders. Climate change is happening and we need to act now. The report is intended as a wake-up call for governments around the world to take action to improve healthcare resources for young people. Note: If you have a wake-up call, you arrange for someone to telephone you at a certain time in the morning so that you are sure to wake up at that time.
See also: call
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a ˈwake-up call

an event that makes people realize that they must take action in a dangerous situation: The recent storms and floods have been a wake-up call for many people about the reality of climate change.
See also: call
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
See also:
References in periodicals archive ?
"I think he is probably getting a little bit of a wake-up call to himself in terms of where he sees himself," manager Rick Renteria said of the White Sox's 23-year-old second baseman.
The rate at which voters were last night signing campaigning Labour MP Tom Watson's online petition should serve as a wake-up call for complacent Cameron.
But coming on the heels of the Mark Foley scandal in September and the media's skirting of the Republican congressman's repressed sexuality for years--a repressed sexuality that quite likely led him to engage in reckless behavior, preying on teenagers in his sphere of influence--reporters appear to have realized they'd be lax if they didn't "go there." The Foley scandal was indeed a wake-up call. And perhaps that's why not one editor, reporter, or any of the usual crowd of gay conservatives and the like, as far as I can tell, criticized the outing of Ted Haggard as an "invasion of privacy." In 2006, particularly with regard to someone who'd railed (or, in the case of Foley, voted) against gays, they'd lost that argument.
What happened probably won't hurt us but I don't think any of us will feel that it has taken handing over the Ashes to get a wake-up call
this past August was a wake-up call to organizations of all sizes that solid data protection processes must be in place, not only to survive these events, but also to maintain a competitive advantage.
Clearly, these numbers should serve as a wake-up call. Japanese originally liked Koizumi for his bold ideas and his courage to take on the establishment, but support flip-flopped as his agenda began to look unimpressively mainstream.
They've issued "a wake-up call," comments Robert P.
The economic slowdown also services as a wake-up call to owners of designated Class B and C properties.
The Milken Institute sounds a wake-up call to lenders and business owners when it comes to accessing capital
Many new issues posted only moderate gains or closed below their offering prices, sounding a wake-up call for option-seeking dot-com workers, who were forced to shed their rose-colored glasses and face the harsh, but undeniable, truth: No dot-com, no matter how promising, is certain to succeed.
It was a wake-up call for a once-complacent industry.