The Planets are in Retrograde … and 6 Ways This Can Move Your Business Forward

Okay, first of all, the Solar System is not actually going backward. The planets are still moving in their orbits exactly as they have for five billion years. Don’t worry.

However, this spring as many as half of our planetary neighbors will appear to be moving backward against the background of stars we see from here on Earth.

To astronomers and astrologers, this “retrograde motion” is commonplace — although seeing five out of eight planets moving backward at around the same time is still a bit of a special occasion.

The difference is astrologers see meaning in this, with implications for our lives down here, and guidance on how to live those lives.

And this can help my business how exactly?

You may find guidance in astrology, or you may think it’s all just mystical mumbo jumbo. I’m not here to convince you either way. (However, I’ve always believed The Onion’s horoscopes to be one of the funniest things on the internet).

I’m not going to delve into astrology or science either. If you want to do that, click the links in this post to read more.

But it dawned on me, as I was reading about the heavens last week, that there are secular lessons from the astrological readings that can help our earthly businesses, no matter what’s going on up in the sky, whether you believe in astrology or not.

In short, for a brief time this spring, we can look up to the backward-moving planets and find timeless business advice to move us forward.

Lost in Space: Personal stability in times of change

If one thing is very certain, it’s that we live in very uncertain times.


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This makes it important to take stock of ourselves in the here and now: to decide what really matters, what we should do about it, how we want to live our lives going forward through the muck of today’s world.

The planets say right now is an especially good time for that.

I say it’s always a good time.

“We are reassessing, regrouping, recoiling, reinventing, rethinking, remembering, repairing when there is so much retrograde power in the air,” astrologer Patricia Liles wrote as all the backward motion was beginning.

“We remember why we want to be or don’t want to be on a path or in a relationship or job. It’s a time of reflection.”

For me, it’s a time to go a little retrograde in my life so I can move forward with higher confidence and a deeper sense of purpose. To become more firmly grounded in myself as the ground around me shakes.

I don’t need the planets to tell me that, but today, I’ll take it.

Mercury: One step back, two forward

If you’ve ever heard of a planet going retrograde, it was undoubtedly Mercury. “Mercury retrograde” is practically a part of speech. It’s best known as a time when things go very wrong.

Named for the fast-moving “messenger of the gods” in Roman mythology (Hermes in Greek), Mercury governs moving things like travel and communications (especially digital), but also contracts, which rule how we move forward.

Many are those (including me) who have experienced some kind of Mercury-related snafu, like their computer or phone goes haywire, or their backup disk crashes, or car won’t start, or flight gets cancelled.

But “Mercury retrograde” can also be a good time. Robert Wilkinson, a “Mercury retrograde expert” (I didn’t know there was such a thing either), sees particular promise this time around: “Mercury will show us what we have to prepare for, and why some things must be buried so we may move forward unencumbered by the ghosts of the past.”

If you, like me and so many people these days, have recently left a job to start a business, this is for you above all.

Enough Introduction

How the ancients saw the night sky.

Pictured: How the ancients saw the night sky.
The ancient Greeks were the first to notice the planets moving independently through the starry skies, although they didn’t know they weren’t stars, nor how nearby. The word “planet” comes from the Greek “planeta” — meaning “wandering star.”
Retrograde motion is an optical illusion, caused by a planet’s relationship to both the Sun and Earth’s orbit.

Here are the lessons I’ve come up with:

1) Secure your data.

Back up your computer, smartphone, website, everything. Add security to your website. Get cyber insurance.

Mercury governs technology, but computers crash and hackers attack no matter what the planet is doing, and losing your business data is something you really don’t want, to put it mildly.

The massive Sony Pictures hack in December 2014 made big news, but in 2015, 43% of all cyberattacks targeted small businesses like ours.

Why? Small businesses are seen as easy marks. Their websites aren’t protected. And according to the Denver Post, 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack are out of business within six months.

You shouldn’t need the planets (or me) to tell you to back up your data, but in case you’re still not doing it, let retrograde Mercury serve as a reminder.

2) Be solid in your agreements.

Astrological wisdom says don’t sign contracts while Mercury is retrograde. I had to sign one last week, four days into it, but I couldn’t back out because it was a already done deal.

However, Mercury was direct then, a good time “for doing what must be done so that other related things can be done later,” according to Wilkinson. So I’m pretty sure I’ll be fine.

Real point is, you can’t put your business on hold, but thinking carefully about what you sign or agree to is always a good idea. Let’s give some extra consideration to the things we agree to going forward.

3) Reaffirm your core principles.

Take a deep look at what you and your business really stand for. We should be reviewing this periodically, if not frequently, anyway. But these uncertain times make it all the more critical to stand firm within ourselves.

The heavens are making this an especially propitious time:

“This is an awakening retrograde period,” says Wilkinson, “that will give us inspired understanding, and allow us to see how our past, present, and future are a continuum of growth into our uniqueness.”

4) Nurture relationships.

Venus ended its six-week retrograde period on April 15, but the planet that governs love, beauty, and money still can teach us about business relationships.

In business we are always networking. If you’re running a solo or small business, networking is one of our most important activities, our networks among our greatest assets.

“Many current challenges demand that we find new and creative ways to live in a world that threatens to split into warring factions at the drop of a hat. Venus invites us to soften around the edges of individuality and separation,” astrologer Sarah Varcas writes.

The outer planets offer similar advice. More from Varcas:

“In Libra, Jupiter asks why we connect with the people we do, what we bring to our relationships and the expectations we place upon others.”

Good questions.

5) Focus on what you need to do.

Quicksilver Mercury is already in its second of four retrograde periods this year (see sidebar). But slow-moving Saturn goes retrograde only once a year, and “thank GAWD above for that because there is nothing tougher than the taskmaster planet when it goes into retrograde,” opines Elite Daily.

“You’ll be rethinking your career path and what you have to do to get where you want. And you’ll do it, even if it scares you.”

Running your own business is fun and rewarding, but can also be scary as hell. I’d rather be doing lots of things rather than bookkeeping or any number of other hard (or mundane) activities my business requires.

But I can’t run my business that way. Nor can you.

With so many distractions in life and on screens, focusing is all but impossible for most people today.

But as business owners, we can’t afford to be “most people.” We need to focus on what’s necessary to succeed.

“The thing about Saturn retrograde is, it forces us to do the right thing, not the fun thing,” Elite Daily says. “Generally, it’s only motivational in retrospect.”

6) Get rid of whatever doesn’t serve you.

Pluto was discovered and named our Solar System’s ninth planet in 1930. In 2006 it was downgraded to “dwarf planet” basically because its gravity is not strong enough.

Nonetheless, Pluto continues to pull on our lives astrologically as a planet of transformation.

Elite Daily: “Pluto retrograde is a great time to remove toxic energy from your world, to discard old objects you’d like to let go of and to cleanse your entire life of negative people, habits and beliefs that no longer serve you.”

Backward to the Future

I think Varcas captures the big picture here, the critical message:

“Jupiter retrograde reminds us no external voyage of discovery — no matter how enlightening — can match the wisdom won when we journey to our centre to discover who we are.”

Running a business is nothing if not a voyage of discovery into the world. But you can’t define your brand, develop your offer, or provide good service unless you know who you and your business are. What you stand for, what unique gifts you have to give.

But you don’t need to wait for the planets to go retrograde to figure this out. They just happen to be calling it to our attention right now. They only look like they’re going backward.

In fact, what they have to say is timeless and universal and ongoing.

“This Mercury retrograde will offer us opportunities,” Wilkinson says, “to look back and find value in knowing we moved when it was time to move, said goodbye when it was time to say goodbye, and by letting go, opened the door to a new life.”

It beats wishing upon a star.

What’s your guiding light in business? The stars and planets? Or something else? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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