*Please note, cats are not relevant. Just adorable.
I read an obscene amount of, well, everything. Books, blogs, news, cereal boxes. I say this to say that I take in a HUGE amount of information, and yes, many of those are self-help books, business advice blogs, or all of the above directly related to the metaphysical, writing itself, or theatre. Yet for as well-read on the subject of success as I am, there are countless days that no matter how many times by how many important people I am told to do certain things (IE traditional networking, refusing to barter, or applying for every opportunity) that I just can not bring myself to do things the "right way". Maybe it's because the corporation who runs a giving foundation's ethics are far and away from what my grassroots theatre company believes in. Maybe it's because undercutting my competition AND setting prices inaccessibly feel equally icky to me. Or maybe it's because I'm rocking this three-or-more chronic illness life the best way I know how and I can not physically be "out there" as much as recommended. Or maybe it's because all of us are bombarded every day with a million choices of all sizes, and as much as we'd like to, saying yes to all of them is overwhelming at best and dangerous to ourselves at worst.
Still, even in forgoing a lot of advice, I live in a beautiful three bedroom apartment in an evolving part of a substantial mid-sized city with two spoiled cats and all the gourmet coffee I can handle. This is all paid for by my tarot and writing (and occasionally my art) even though I do not do every "right" thing and yes, actively choose to do things the "wrong" way sometimes. Everything I do at this stage of my life is incredibly intentional. I know firsthand how easy it is to just get in the habit of saying yes, and until I started really doing these gut checks we're about to talk about, I too ended up embarking on even major projects or ventures that I had no real desire to be in. I've known many people who've spent years saving up for something only to realize they didn't even want it that bad. Or who built a career and realized they hated their daily routine even if they loved their field. Or who looked at their calendar and realized they've been sleeping with someone who bores them out of their mind for eight months. (!!!)
Like anything else, there's a million different ways to address these various crossroads, and my way may not work for you at all. When I work with clients, however, and when I'm at a crux myself, I navigate all of these decisions from innocuous social life dilemmas to major life changes with two painfully simple questions. These are, in my experience, the ONLY questions most need to ask themselves when faced with basically any choice. Before we start looking at that though, decision making usually requires getting into a good headspace first. I rarely recommend making decisions in the heat of the moment unless you are 1000% sure of the upcoming questions (though that does happen) immediately. So instead of pushing yourself to decide right then, wait until your next batch of meditation/prayer/solo time, and take several deep, calming breaths. Clear your mind completely. If you need to light incense, pull your cat into your lap, or cover yourself in Florida Water, do that. Once calm, think about the choice or opportunity in front of you. Then ask yourself these two questions--and only these two questions.
"First of all, is this opportunity even possible?" This question is so simple but often goes unchecked. When anything comes your way and you're interested enough to consider it though, this is a necessary step. "Can I do this?" HOWEVER, it is so so crucial that we do not confuse that for either "Can I do this easily?" OR "If I rearrange my whole life including everything that's important to me, is this technically possible?" This step can and should include your emotional and spiritual reality, and shouldn't drain your savings (unless you're really, really okay with that) or uproot everything you hold sacred. Sometimes you can't say yes, as rad as it would be, and it's best to just quit here and not get ahead of yourself. Do I have whims where I think "sell all your name brand clothes and move to a shack in the desert and read tarot on a Pay What You Can basis?" Of course I do. Can I actually do that without losing the things most important to me or with everything going on with my health? Um, no. So I indulge the fantasy for a bit, and move on. Alternatively, my theatre company reached an impasse about the best way to grow last fall when the issue of securing our own venue came up. It was a big change, but with some creative restructing and a hard commitment to marketing rentals when we weren't using the space, we realized this could be done, and we're much happier now than we were two years ago.
If you get through that step and it turns out you CAN do the thing that's been suggested or offered to you, the next question is even more obvious, but we do so, so often getting bogged down in habit or people-pleasing. The next (and final) question is, of course, "Do I WANT to do this?" Clients are often shocked at how quickly they don't even need the cards to make the decision if I start by questioning their own desires or motives towards a choice. Usually when you quietly, earnestly ask yourself if you WANT to do the thing, the answer comes screaming into your gut with a pretty fierce strength. In the above examples, no, I don't actually want to give up coffee shops on every corner for that quiet (and hot) of a life. But I did desperately want a home for my theatre company to root in. I didn't realize how much I wanted that until I asked if I wanted it. That check in brought into fruition wants, needs, and determination I didn't even know I had, making it one of the most formative things I did last year.
What about the times you get stuck though? What if you know you truly, desperately need this opportunity but it really doesn't seem possible? Or what if you don't actually know what the question is--you know your business needs to evolve in some way but you aren't sure what that looks like? And of course, what if you have absolutely no actual idea if you can do or even want this? That's is, as it so often is, where the tarot comes in.
This a really simple spread that can be adjusted to be more specific. In this case, let's look at a sample question that has no bearing on my life right now, so I'm not inclined to overpersonalize things. Our sample question is: "Should I spend the money/time/energy to take this class?"
The first row is the "CAN I" row. The first card is "As it stands now, can I take this class?" The Devil is a rough one to get right out of the gate. Traditional tellings would say no, this class is a distraction or a temptation. If you read the queer/modern/non-Christian version of the Devil though, it could be a necessary indulgence. It could throw you off your immediate track temporarily, but that's likely a good thing. So the rest of this row becomes important. The middle card shows us what needs to change or move to make the thing possible. You WILL get cards that show heartbreak or negativity here, in which case across the board this is likely a no. In our sample case though, we got the King of Cups. Things actually can be moved in the direction of you taking this hypothetical class. In this case, you might need to actually speak with or reach out to someone who has taken the class who cares about and supports you, or you might need to reach out to the instructor if there are any bureaucratic issues with getting into the class. In any case, dig deep and find your own creative prowess and love of the subject--that's what's going to make the difference. The last card in this row, that Page of Cups, shows what's already working in favor of you making this choice. In this case, a base knowledge, a love of the subject, and an encouragement towards indulgence all give you something to grab on to should you move forward.
The second row is the "Do I want this?" row. Again, we start with a basic yes/or no for the first card. With the Queen of Cups there's a definite argument that you've actually wanted this for awhile, but are trying to play it cool and not get your heart set on it. The middle card shows us why you're having some blocks understanding your desires. The three of cups shows us that you might've been let down by group settings before, or that you might often deny yourself happiness or growth or camaraderie in this area of your life. The third card in this row shows us what you truly want. This is the heart of why you're considering this. It shows a desire not being nurtured. In this case, the Queen of Wands, there's a true passion for whatever subject the class is in, and a need to do something independent of your squad/partner/kids. This card is crucial because if at the end of this spread your answer is no, THIS card tells you where to go and what you need to pull into your life.
That final card on the side shows the final word on the matter. This is the make or break card, that sums up whether you should do the thing at hand. Obviously with a King of Pentacles here this non-existent class is a loud, clamorous, resounding yes--and the card has it's own reasons (Invest in yourself! Root in your community! Master a thing!) but it also takes everything else in the spread into account.
At the end of this entire process--whether you needed the spread or not, you should be left with one of two options: a hearty "hell yes" that gets your eyes big and your heart racing, or a polite but firm "no, thanks though." I live my entire life by this philosophy, and it's how I manage multiple careers that I love, a solid social life in spite of being deeply introverted and socially anxious, and a profound love of free-spiritedness and life itself. I get stuck though, and know we all do--so use the hell out of this spread (but please credit me if you write about it or repost) and feel free to let me know how any of your crossroads shake out when you do!
Blessed be, y'all!