How to Navigate Life

Like sailing from Hawaii to San Francisco, life has some navigational tips for each of us at every stage or season of our life. 

Allow me to quickly define the four seasons of life, generally,

1st season: birth to 25 years of age: growing, school

2nd: 26 to 50: possible marriage, children, teens, career

3rd season: 51-75: empty nesters, second wind

4th season: 76 to the finish line; more obvious changes in physical abilities, mental capacity, health challenges have accumulated and shown up.

I did that sailing trip from Hawaii to San Francisco in the summer of 1980 with a learning curve like much of life.  As rather novice sailors we bought a 32’ sailboat that we loved from friends in Hawaii, flew with a lot of gear, prepped the sadly dilapidated boat 12 hours a day for 3 weeks then pushed off.  Our goal or destination was to hit landfall in San Francisco which we did 23 days later.  That is step one in navigating life. 

Step 1. What is the destination? 

With a partner on board, the three of us traded 2-hour watches every 24-hour period.  Each of us was on watch for 2 hours then off for 4 hours, then repeat. (On a watch you keep looking for any danger in the water like floating cargo containers, or ships approaching on a collision course). We paid attention and were ready to respond quickly to changes. That is step two, pay attention. Be ready for changes.

Step 2.  Pay attention

To reach our destination we needed to know where we were in that big Pacific Ocean so at noon each day the two men each took sightings of the sun to calculate mathematically where we were on the chart. I trusted them and was not interested in learning how to do the math or use a slide rule or calculator.

At this season of my life, that would be nearing the fourth season, with my husband recently diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment or early dementia, new things are showing up that need attention.  His comments let me know he is worried about what will happen to him should I precede him in death; who will take care of him and where will he sleep and eat.  So, at this season of life, we are visiting a variety of senior living communities so he can get a feel now for his choices and make some early decisions.  That way his children will know his desires and early plans will be in place for him.  All this is to give him some peace of mind and assure him he does not have to worry.

In no way am I ready to move into a senior living community, but my health could turn in a moment.  That is my reality after a serious auto accident a year ago that could have been disastrous. So, I am paying attention, being aware, watching and ready for a shift in our weather so I am ready to change sails or reef the main sail for a sudden gale that is approaching. Being ready is step three in navigating life.

Step 3. Be ready

I encourage you to be paying attention to your life, be aware and ready to what might be coming and be prepared.  Live life with intention.

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson

Elisa Hawkinson
Professional Organizer | Author Calming Your Chaos | Leader of the Smooth Organizer Community


Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson



Since 2000 Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson, author of Calming Your Chaos, has been teaching and training businesses and individuals to support anyone who is not naturally organized on a consistent basis to be just that. Her HOW2GetOrganized seminars, workshops, and speaking along with hands-on coaching and coaching by phone has evolved from her natural genetic bent for order. Efficiency, calm, productivity and profitability are increased with the help of HOW2 and Elisa.


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