Our mission here at Work Life is to offer inspirational advice to influence how you work.
But what if there’s another, more original source of guidance? A method used by the ancients that still might prove effective today?
After all, it’s said we’re the stuff of stars…
Wait! Before you complete that eye-roll, think of it this way: in our perpetual quest to improve your teamwork journey, we wish to leave no stone unturned. (Star unsighted?)
So, in the spirit of experimentation, we decided to find out: could astrology help your teamwork? Is there some good advice out there, waaaaay out there?
The horoscope experiment: using the stars to assist you at work
Based on a teammate’s recommendation, I downloaded the popular astrology app Co-Star, “the hyper-personalized, social experience bringing astrology into the 21st century.”
Give it the old college try. Because, let’s face it. We’re all at least somewhat curious about possible information “written in the stars” for us. And while I’m not normally a horoscope reader, I’ve taken a tip or two from the stars’ wisdom over the years, and I certainly relate to many of the traits ascribed to my sign. Which, by the way, is Taurus. And no, I am not that stubborn.
The experiment setup
- For one week, my daily habit would be to read my horoscope delivered from Co-Star.
- Every afternoon at 4:30pm, I would take notes on whether that day’s “reading” had any influence on my work day.
Day 1: Monday Sept 9
My first reading didn’t exactly inspire. “Trouble with work” stood out (along with its red warning icon, see below). I thought, wouldn’t practically anyone experience “Trouble with work” on a Monday? Nevertheless, it was sort’ve apropos since I was coming off a weekend in the mountains with family and I did feel a little trouble with work, as it were.
As I looked over my week’s calendar, among my first decisions was whether or not I wanted to attend a celebratory lunch happening in two short hours. On a Monday. When I had things to do. Ugh. Plus, since I’d taken Friday off, I was eager to get back to some of my projects. But I was torn. I’m a big supporter of work bonding, and I didn’t want to let the group down. The timing wasn’t right and I really didn’t want to go. I don’t like eating lunch so early, especially not Chinese. I hemmed and hawed like this for a solid 20 minutes.
Enter: my horoscope!
The line “your intuition is strong” suddenly stood out. I thought, well, in the spirit of experimentation. If the idea is to use this information, see if it’s helpful, then perhaps I really should listen to that voice telling me to focus on work. And there was this line: “Today’s moon transit is encouraging you to take advantage of creative flow.”
Considered this way, it seemed to be reinforcing exactly what I wanted to do with one of my projects. I decided to skip lunch and instead use the time to write and edit. And, in fact, it worked. Something I’d been anxious about got completed, and I felt lighter.
I soon learned that each day’s reading had more information than the daily summary screens, including breakdowns within topics like “Power” and “Trouble.” Not everything resonated, but some lines did:
- “Your Sun is in Taurus, which means that your purpose on this earth is to create something enduring.” (This held a powerful ring of truth, and made me think of my work.)
- “Your Venus is in Gemini… you only need to prove yourself to yourself.” (This could be helpful advice for anyone.)
- Creative flow: “Create because you want something to survive you.” (Similar feeling to “something enduring.”)
Day 2: Tuesday Sept 10
I must admit, the “past selves” threw me off. I wasn’t sure how to relate it to my daily activities. And, “Trouble with work” for a second day? Jeez.
But, again, some insights stood out and flavored my day’s thinking:
- “Your Venus in Gemini… The heart is the origin of any worldview.” (Definitely believe this.)
- Work stress: “You are a hard worker, but in this moment you may feel unable to recognize the beauty of simple things. Slow down and stop fighting yourself.”
In the spirit of the experiment, I took this advice to focus on the things I had control over. It helped, actually, as I went into my day’s meetings (Tuesdays are loaded) thinking more about what was in front of me and not abstractions.
Day 3: Wednesday Sept 11
Today was the first I had to remind myself to follow this experimental habit before jumping into my work day. It felt a bit forced, but when I did the habit prevailed. Mainly because the poetic, florid language (of a kind one rarely reads before work) had an influence. For example:
- Your Moon in Aries, “Take a deep breath, don’t rush, don’t shine, being yourself is not like a car doing donuts in a sideshow.” (I love that part.)
- Magnetism: “Healthy self-esteem does not make you full of yourself.”
Solid pieces of advice, if not exactly “hyper-personalized.” Still, since Wednesdays are my work-from-home day, I took both of these ideas as encouragement to continue to GSD (which I do at home) and not be concerned with office FOMO or needing to “prove” my work.
Day 4: Thursday Sept 12
I got sick. I slept the entire day to try to get well quickly. I’m happy to say it worked, but I didn’t do anything with the experiment. However, this is a perfect opportunity to highlight the wisdom of this blog post about the importance of taking an actual sick day.
I did in fact take an actual sick day. I turned off my phone and didn’t check my work computer all day, for anything. As a result, I slept. And I got better faster. That bit about “Pressure in self” in the summary? Solved.
Day 5: Friday Sept 13
Today it was a relief to feel well enough to jump back into the experiment (though I worked from home, to spare my teammates), and the top-line idea, “You can give them a chance today” was welcome encouragement. Why is reading a simple line like that helpful? It’s like those Breathe signs some people have. If I read one… I actually take a deep breath!
Similar to Tuesday, I went into my day’s editorial production meeting with renewed vigor.
The power of habit, and language
As a writer, I’ve learned habit is everything. If you want to write, the only way to do it is to make it habitual. The same is true for exercise, diet, learning Spanish or playing the guitar. Good, consistent habits win every time.
So, whether you’re into horoscopes or not (and I’m not, really), I realized again how powerful habits are – any habit. And that includes reading a daily horoscope.
Even if you think of astrology as pseudo science on the one hand, and complete flakiness on the other, I found the mere habit of checking this daily source of insight put me in a different frame of mind. It did influence, to one degree or another, the shape of my day. While I’m not sure there’s any verifiable, objective truth to how the stars and planets are aligned in the sky, today, and the correlation with the celestial formation at the time of my birth to output the advice to “take advantage of creative flow” on Monday Sept. 9th, the very suggestion did give me a nudge to follow up on creative projects that day.
Did the experiment succeed or fail? Let’s just say this: sometimes it’s important to try something out of the ordinary. I mean, how often do you really experiment at work? If you did something, anything different on your team (even using a horoscope app), could it help? Ok, sure. Astrology might not be the best choice, but you get the idea.
Isn’t improving teamwork worth the experimentation?
And, after all that, this: sometimes all the tips and advice, the constant flow of articles telling you to improve this and unlearn that, the gotta do more, gotta be more of our modern society can get pretty overwhelming. That’s when I think it’s time for a little Uncle Walt:
When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer
BY WALT WHITMAN
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
Habits are powerful. Here are some to try:
- This checklist chrome extension helps you plan your day.
- Try daily stand-up meetings with your team and see how they influence your teamwork.
- A personal “user manual”
- Read more on habits:
Share a habit that helps you: Tweet us at @ Atlassian