• Catherine Hansen MD, MPH

Have you misplaced your Sextant?


Before we can possibly know the direction of our lives, we need one, very important, piece of information. When we look outside ourselves to set a course, establish a vision or create a plan we often do so while missing the most important data point.


To get anywhere, you must always locate yourself first.


I’ve been sailing for years and Jeremy and I often dreamed, imaginatively, about circumnavigating the globe. We talked about home-schooling our children and setting a course for lands unknown. We took sailing courses and spent time with our family learning the ropes and running overboard maneuvers. Tacking. Winching. Heaving. Sometimes our drills were far too realistic like the time Devon fell off the boat trying to touch the dolphins and Ashley hoisted up her little hand yelling, “boy overboard!” resulting in Jeremy swimming after our scared little boy and the Hansen girls running a technical figure of 8 on our own. It was better when we were recovering a shoe than our own son. Today, we laugh about those memories and our family revels in roles we play as an organized crew.


When dead reckoning, you need a location, speed and distance to gather meaningful data.

A compass rose and three fixed points are necessary for triangulation. Celestial techniques use the stars to uncover our position on the earth’s surface. In every type of navigation, the goal is clear, to determine where you ARE so that you can set a course with clarity and intention.


For years, I’ve been encouraging women to set goals, develop structures, devise schedules, and recruit accountability partners and I’m realizing we all need a crash course in the most important element of successful navigation.


Locating yourself on your chart of life can mean survival when all seems lost.


To get anywhere, you must know where you are.


Too often, we focus externally, sailing erratically toward an extraneous landmark that holds little meaning or relevance for us. The direction others are going may seem logical and beautiful for them but, for us, it’s misaligned and misinformed. No one knows us like we do and, therefore, no one can establish our course as we can.


Any solid sailor will tell you, taking the time to log and track your location may seem like too much effort in this day of instruments and technology but knowing that electronics and external guides will fail, those who chart accurately are more likely to conquer the challenges and survive the catastrophic failures. It’s the same with life.


Knowing yourself, developing your internal guidance, tracking your progress, evaluating your evolvement and being in constant communication with what matters most are essential if you are on the journey of your lifetime. And this IS the journey of your lifetime!


As I share with more and more women who are yearning for bigger and bigger dreams, our focus is changing to the vital inner work. We endeavor to bring along our inner guide as we sail toward bold new horizons.


As I sit in a world where structures are breaking down and we all have a part to play in re-building a better future for our families, I’m cognizant of where I am today and my gentle, consistent trimming of the sails.


This expedition will take us to wild and beautiful places, but it will surely get us lost if we fixate outside ourselves and navigate using purely external instruments.


Our journey is just that, ours.


The trajectory matters but the starting point determines everything.


The past reveals precious memories, and the future calls us forth to exciting unknown and foreign places. But it’s this place, right here, right now, inside our soul that offers the most valuable and important information. Don’t forget your current geolocation as you plot the future. Use all your navigation tools because when you least expect it, you’ll be forced to resort to ancient, tried and true techniques of placing yourself on the map of life and you’ll need to have developed those skills long before you need them.


This is your journey. This is the only expedition that matters. This is your one chance to get it right.


Chart your course with intention. Plot copiously. Navigate cautiously. Venture courageously.


Always come home.

Reflection Questions (with curiosity and receptivity; no judgement; no right or wrong):


1. How often do you check in with yourself when you are making decisions throughout your day? Take an extra minute to ask yourself, silently and internally:

  • “How do I feel about this?” or

  • “What would I like to see happen (or do) in this situation?”

Soon you will realize that you (your wants and desires) become part of the everyday inner dialogue that guides your decisions and actions. You include you.


2. Reflect and journal about a time when you checked in with yourself and altered a decision you had made?


3. Reflect and journal about a time when you didn’t check in with yourself and wish you had (or had a gut feeling about something that you didn’t act upon)?


4. What big decisions do you have coming up this week or month that would benefit from more intentional, internal navigation? Use your morning journal time to consider those items one at a time.


The Empowered Women's Circle gathers weekly to locate ourselves on our chart of life, set a personal course, plot our collective journey and share in the beauty of the scenery. Feel free to join us: https://www.ewcircle.com/diamonds

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