Tarot Spread: Exploring Potential Shifts

I developed this spread the other day to examine my own career trajectory at work, but in making the spread diagram for it, I realized that it is, at its heart, quite generic. If you’re even remotely like me and most of the people I know, then you’ve probably wondered whether you should “stick it out,” whatever that long-term “it” is: a career, a friendship, a project, or partnership. At these times it’s useful to get a reality check because sometimes the thing that has us ready to toss away all our hard work to start fresh, or the thing we think is enough to keep us going, turns out to be bullshit and fleeting. 

  1. What can I expect from continuing as is?

  2. What can I expect from a slight pivot?

  3. What can I expect from a whole new path?

  4. What do I really want from my stage?

  5. What’s really missing from my current state?

  6. How can I make the most of continuing as is?

  7. How can I make the most of a slight pivot?

  8. How can I make the most of a whole new path?

  9. What should I know to help me make the right decision?

Below is the process by which I developed the spread and the more specific considerations that I put into each of the card positions for my specific circumstance. As you can see, I already had some ideas churning, so you should feel free to modify the spread as needed for your specific case. And if you don’t have ideas about your specific case, you can try the spread as is and see how it turns out. It might help awaken you to possibilities you’d forgotten or not been willing to express. If you use it, please let me know how it works out for you. And please give me credit for the spread. There’s enough love in this world that we can share.

The Process

Step 1: The Primary Forecast

I created this spread starting with a quick check on three potential career futures: the current trajectory for the way things are now, generally speaking; what I might experience from a slight but important shift in what I was doing at work that could open up new avenues (a “pivot” in the sense of Jenny Blake’s Pivot); and a fresh new start.

Step 2: The Advice

From there, I added in three more cards because I wanted to see how I could make the most of those options. 

I might like the direction of my current trajectory without an intentional, important shift, but my current state is obviously troubled or I wouldn’t have sought this reading. So I wanted to know how I might improve the situation in a minor way to make the most of it. Would I benefit from a shift in mindset? A change in routine? A new way to do something? A reality check slap in the face to quit whining?

For the slight but important pivot, I wanted to know what I could do to avail myself of opportunities to help make a shift in things. Would it be a new role in my group, or a new set of responsibilities? Would it make sense to shift how I worked or what I asked for? Was there some project I could take on that isn’t likely to be “mine” without a fight? Were there other things I might want to think about that I hadn’t consciously recognized as options?

While I like my day job and the company for which I work, I often wonder if it’s right for me. When I think of the future, I don’t see myself doing that work forever, but I have a hard time imagining better alternatives that meet some of my other needs. So for me, this card then became about opportunities to explore and places where I might get that inspiration for something new. It was less about making the most of the situation once I am in it but more about making the most of finding that new path.

Step 3: The Motivating Factors

I could’ve stopped there: six is a lot of cards even if I could theoretically “ignore” two of them if I really like only one of the first three cards. But the process of coming up with those six questions raised some bigger questions. First and foremost, what do I really want from this next stage of my career life? Sure, I could pick the direction that looks the best, but maybe it doesn’t really fulfill my main goals and I find myself in the same position again. After all, I like what I currently do and my values frequently align with it in ways that comparable jobs couldn’t, but it doesn’t feel enough or right for the long term, so I clearly want something from even a minor change. What is that? And on a similar note, what’s missing from what I’m currently doing? 

I added both cards because they will often relate to each other, but they will probably differ in important ways. Something that is missing from my current situation may not be something that I really want and that I see as critical to the next stage of my career or professional life; it just might be a lack from the current situation that has prompted me to do this reading in the first place. When I did the reading for myself, I realized that there is something that is actually already part of my job but which I just haven’t been able to do for several months because of project deadlines. It’s not something I “really want” in a different situation because I have it and will have it again in the future. It’s just missing for the time-being. Some people may see the 9 of Pentacles in that position and realize that greater financial recognition or more autonomy is what’s missing from their current situation. But when they think about what they “really want” from a career, those aren’t the big ticket items that drive them forward; those are specific issues that are missing from their current role and wouldn’t make or break the right new opportunity. Unlike the “really want” card, which feeds into all three options, that “missing” card primarily feeds into better understanding and working with the current situation, and to a lesser extent it can help inform a slight pivot. It’s probably not going to be critical to the “new start” option.

Step 4: The Guide

Last, I added a helping guide for helping you make a decision that considers all these different aspects of this next phase of your professional life. Note the emphasis on you because only you can decide what you’re going to do about it. But with so many options and inputs, it’s good to have a guiding hand that isn’t necessarily the high and mighty “really want” card, which may not always be in your best interest. 

Step 5: Clean-Up and Intention-Setting

As for my use of phase, and stage, and state, it’s a reminder that all of this is always in flux. How long will the next stage of your professional life be? It will vary. If you’re always searching for something on the next horizon, it could be a matter of months. It could be as long as a degree or certificate program. If you’re all about long-term commitment to work, then it could be the rest of your working life, although I’m not sure that this last group will use this spread for potential career changes.

In many ways, order and layout position don’t matter to me as long as I know what I’m pulling when and where it goes. But I rearranged them by pull order and by position based on what I thought would be useful to know in which order, in case anyone chooses to cut the deck in between questions or sections, and the cards are positioned near other cards that will likely relate to them. 

The first three questions stayed the same. I thought that was more useful to see first than the big top-line “really want” question, which derives more context from what you see in those first three cards. I introduced that question next, as well as the “what’s missing” card, since those will inform how you interpret the first three cards, and they’ll also give insight into what it means to “make the most of” each of the three options. The decision helper stays at the end of course since that can offer a revelation after seeing all the others, or it’s something to think about as you leave the reading.