If you’ve been on the Internet lately, you’ve surely seen an inspirational quote or two plastered against a beachy backdrop. A personal favorite? “Go for your dreams! Don’t let anyone tell you what you’re capable of.” Now, I have nothing against this sentiment. In fact, I am one hundred percent on board. What does ruffle me, though, is that it equates simply deciding to shoot for your highest aspirations with serenity, surf, and careless bare feet. In my experience advising clients, taking the reins of your life and changing direction—particularly when that means diving into a startup—is a pretty tumultuous ordeal. It’s an order served cold with a side of extra responsibility, financial hardship, and stress. That doesn’t mean aiming high isn’t ultimately rewarding. It just takes a little more sweat than that inspirational quote would have you believe.
An Auto Mechanic on the Edge
One of the best examples of this is my client Mike. Mike, 35, reached out to me on the advice of his wife, Lara, who I’d counseled before on an office rivalry at her investment firm. Immediately, I realized he was the gritty, earthy counterpart to his high-strung, ambitious wife. Right out of high school, Mike went to work in an auto body shop in his hometown. He’d always adored cars and lived for those magic moments when a classic Thunderbird or Mustang would come in for a tune-up. “I’m a car guy,” he declared fitfully. “It’s in my blood.”
After more than 25 years at the shop, he itched to start his own the next town over. “I feel ready. I want to have a place that feels like my own, I want to be the boss, and I want a bigger paycheck.”
Six months ago, Mike leased out a garage for a good rate, quit his job, and got to work building the business of his dreams. Except it had started taking on a nightmarish quality. “I’m going out of my mind! Negotiating with all these money-grabbing parts dealers is killing me, our profits are too low, and a couple of my employees are real you-know-whats,” he fumed. “If I knew it was going to be this stressful, I woulda stuck it out at the old garage. And I was going to shut it down, but then Lara told me to call you first. So I guess what I’m asking is, should I just sell the shop and be done with it?”
The Tarot Suggests the Real Reasons for Mike’s Struggle
I introduced Mike to the concept of an intuitive Tarot reading, in which I draw three cards that each represent a facet of his current situation. This is the ideal Tarot spread for a scenario like this, where the real forces at work are unknown. Besides, I couldn’t imagine Mike sitting patiently through the eleven-card Celtic Cross spread.
I shuffled the deck until he instructed me to stop, and I drew the first card. “This is the Seven of Wands. It’s all about a struggle to defend something you really believe in. This shows a man fighting off a horde of adversaries, and it’s noteworthy that he’s on higher ground. So let me ask you: is the business you’re running right now something you’re going to defend and protect against the odds? Or do you wish it were a little different?”
He thought for a moment. “You know, to be completely honest, I love working on the American and German cars, but not so much the Japanese ones. I wish I could just do repairs on the ones I want.”
“Why can’t you?”
“I can’t limit my audience! That’s a stupid move. You gotta build a name and a market.” He paused. “Then again, maybe people would trust me more with their cars if I was a specialist. That’s not such a terrible idea, lady!”
Oftentimes, we make business—and life—decisions based on what seems safest, not what’s most fulfilling. This isn’t such a bad thing, but when the going gets tough, it’s harder to motivate yourself to fight for a dream that isn’t wholly yours. I sensed that when Mike focused his vision more on his passions, he’d find new fire to handle the inevitable bumps in business ownership.
The next card I drew was Justice. “I sense this is about your bad employees,” I explained. “Fire them; you’ll get new ones.” The Justice card is all about karma, and it assures that goodness and morality will prevail, so I had no doubt that once Mike cut his troublemaking workers he’d find a host of much more loyal, hard-working individuals to fill their spots.
“Okay, last card,” I said. “This is the Queen of Pentacles. She’s a practical woman with some serious financial assets. It’s— ”
“Lara! Of course that’s Lara,” he jumped in, finishing my sentence.
I had sensed immediately in our reading that Mike and Lara had known each other a very, very long time, probably since high school (and, perhaps, from even further back in a past life). To Mike, Lara was a queen, and he wanted to be a king worthy of her. But low profits, insubordinate employees, and high stress were undermining his attempts to impress his beloved wife, and no doubt it was leaving him feeling emasculated and unworthy. This isn’t unfamiliar territory in the business of pursuing dreams. Whenever a loved one is along for the ride, we want them to see the highs of our adventure—the moments of inspiration and passion and clarity—and not the lows, the doubts and fumbles and silly errors. We don’t want to appear insufficient or incompetent, but we almost can’t help but make mistakes when we’re just starting out down a new venture!
“It’s okay with Lara that this is taking some time to get off the ground. All business do, and she understands that. You need to keep your eye on the target right now, and not worry too much about messing up in front of her. Because I know that, once these bumps are smoothed out, there’s a smooth road ahead.”
The Fateful Decision to Reaffirm—or Abandon—a Dream
Another six months after our conversation, Mike was turning some real profit at his garage. He made the concrete changes the Tarot suggested—specializing his repairs and terminating bad employees—and found himself reinvigorated to face the challenges of small business ownership. Lara’s also pretty pleased with him (she even wrote me to say so)!
For Mike, staying the course, with some modifications, was the best way to right his venture gone awry. For other clients, a new startup, even one long fantasized, can turn out to be a dead end. Some people find that their dream actually isn’t very fulfilling—what they really wanted was security or money or an ego boost, and the nitty gritty of entrepreneurship is a draining experience. Fortunately, whatever your situation, it’s never too late to change your mind, or your business model.
Are you unsure about a new business venture? Is your dream turning into an overwhelming stressor? Advisors at KEEN.com can help you creatively problem solve with Tarot readings and more.