Chinese Astrology

Navigating your Career with Ba Zi Suan Ming What role the 5 Elements can play in Selecting your Career

When browsing career websites today, individuals will come across many articles providing tips for career success as “Choose Your Profession Wisely”, or “If you are missing a skill or have some other shortcoming, take whatever measures necessary to improve”.

While the first category of advice leaves the reader with the question behind, HOW to choose their occupation wisely, the latter puts emphasis on the viewpoint that if we just strive hard enough, build a useful network and think positive we will be able to be a success at everything.


Having worked as a Human Resources Manager, Executive Advisor and Career Coach for decades, I have been of course working with many clients who have been satisfied with what they had achieved so far and were just striving for some improvement.

There have been not a few though, who were either disappointed because they had not reached their professional goals, or who had achieved but paid the price of neglected relationships, abandoned hobbies, exhaustion or even worse took a serious toll on their health.


Therefore, the – especially in the West – widespread attitude that everyone can be a success at everything at every time seems not to be the entire truth.

My experience shows instead that

  • people have their Individual talents and potentials.
  • all matters in life underly Cyclic movements.
  • there are Limitations of pure willpower and positive affirmations
  • we should acknowledge the power of Qualified action – or sometimes non-action.

But how to define what is qualified action, and how to take qualified action?

When speaking about factors for a successful life the Chinese, beyond others, mention:

命 – Ming – Destiny

运 – Yun – Luck

风水 – Feng Shui

积阴德  – Ji Yin De – Benevolence

读书 – Du Shu – Study

Transferring them into factors for successful careers they read as:

命 ->  Potential

运 -> Cyclic influences

风水 -> Setting

积阴德 -> Giving & Being Moderate

读书 -> Education & Knowledge

Potential and cyclic developments are focused in the technique of Ba Zi Suan Ming. Ba Zi Suan Ming 八字算命, also known as the Four Pillars of Destiny, is a system of personality and potential analysis, based on the Chinese calendar.

The Chinese calendar (also called the Hsia Calendar or 农历, Nong Li, the Farmer’s Calendar), does not only integrate the lunar with the solar calendar system, but it is also unique because it displays time in terms of the 五行 Wu Xing, the 5 Elements Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.

Every year, month, day and also hour is expressed by two aspects, one of the 10 Heavenly Stems and one of the Earthly Branches, the latter symbolized by the well-known 12 Chinese Zodiac animals. By analysing the element constellation at play during a person’s birth time, we can learn a great deal about their life and career potential.

In the area of career, from this technique we can learn about:

  • The right career direction and job roles
  • Fortune and timing
  • The influence cyclic movements
  • The right industry for a person

For delving into the application of Ba Zi Suan Ming for navigating one’s career we use an example of a woman, born July 7th 1961, 02:05 a.m. (adjusted time), seeking for advise about her potential and suitable career moves. The basic Ba Zi Chart and the calculation of the 10 years’ Luck Cycles are as follows:

Ⓒ Dr. Sabine Kullak
Ⓒ Dr. Sabine Kullak


This woman has a Yin Metal (辛) Self Element (=the Heavenly Stem of the Day Pillar, which represents the person herself and is the reference point for all information in the chart), born in a month of Fire month (Horse, 午). Applying the weak/strong method and also from reflecting together with the client her more fortunate and less fortunate periods of her life, the conclusion is that her favourable elements are Earth and Metal, supporting her weak 辛 Self Element.

As mentioned above, each point in time is expressed by two layers, the upper layer of the 10 Heavenly Stems and the lower of the Earthly Branches.

When talking about the type of career or the role a person can potentially take on in business, the 5 Aspects of Life present in the Heavenly Stems are of special interest, since this layer of a Ba Zi chart is the one which determines the roles and appearances of a person.

As a reminder, the 5 aspects of life are: People (friends or competitors), Intelligence or Output, Money, Power and Influence, and Resources.

Starting with the Self Element in the People position, the different aspects of life in this case are arranged in analogy to the birth cycle of the 5 elements:

Ⓒ Dr. Sabine Kullak
Ⓒ Dr. Sabine Kullak

Under the influence of new technologies, new forms of work, and more and more fast-paced environments many well-established occupations have vanished, while new job profiles (or at least job titles!) can be discovered almost weekly while checking career portals. It is therefore more appropriate and more constant to explore the potential for certain job roles rather than discussing distinct professional functions.

Job roles will refer to the aspects of life as this:

Ⓒ Dr. Sabine Kullak
Ⓒ Dr. Sabine Kullak

With Yin Metal in the Heavenly Stems we can acknowledge our client to have a potential for connecting, entertaining or inspiring people, but being more comfortable with acquaintances than with competitors. As the People aspect is closely related to the Self, she might feel comfortable rather with abstract matters than hands-on-activities, this also said since the Intelligence Aspect is missing in the chart.

With Yang Wood as Money aspect, exhausted by Yang Fire in the Earthly Branch and combined with a weak Self Element with its limited capability to conquer Money, this person is well advised by rather handling other people’s wealth or assets than trying to generate wealth by running a business herself.

The missing Intelligence aspect in the chart does not recommend an entrepreneurial activity either, since the Money aspect lacks support. She will do better when being involved in money issues of a steady nature, solid assets and businesses, rather than juggling high risk investments with potential windfall profits.

Yin Earth in the Heavenly Stem of the Hour pillar stands for Unconventional Resources, which could mean building of alternative knowledge, unconventional research or thinking, creativity, unorthodox ideas, intuition, or educating, teaching and supporting others.

Managerial roles, business pitches, performing or acting, authority related matters as well as affairs of law and order might not come naturally to this person, since the Intelligence and Power related elements Water and Fire are not present respectively only present in the Earthly Branch of the Month Pillar.

Reading the chart from the right to the left, the different pillars are representing different career stages in a person’s life from their early to the later career. In the case discussed the Hour Pillar applies, which in the Heavenly Stem points out a stage of Resources (see above), well supported by the strong Earth Element of the Earthly Branch.

In terms of timing and cyclic movements, the current Luck Cycle is not favourable, with a less satisfactory career development. The strong Water 子element is exhausting the weak 辛 Self Element, complemented by a competitive constellation on the layer of the Heavenly Stem, bearing the potential of losing wealth, rivalry and over-competition. Under such a constellation a person is definitely well advised to play safe, in doubt to compromise and to avoid risky investments or career moves.

The upcoming Cycle promises that the career will prosper, supported by the strong Earth Element of the upcoming 丑 Luck, with the topic of encountering like-minded people.

This person will be well advised though, to be and remain active and make use of her knowledge and potential during this later stage of her career as much and as long as possible. The Resource aspect is strongly supported by the 丑 Earthly Branches both in the base chart and the upcoming Luck Cycle, whereas no Intelligence Aspect is present.

This combination carries the possibility of overthinking and going in circles, the lacking outlet leading to frustration. The recommendation is to use the People aspect to share, educate and inspire like-minded people, thereby leveraging the opportunities the next period of the career stage will bring.

There are many more constellations in a Ba Zi Chart which will facilitate the flow of a career or will contribute to special talents which cannot be entirely discussed in this article. In the chart presented, the Peach Blossom (午) and Stars of Art (丑) indicate the ability of the person to connect socially with ease, as well as a certain creative potential.

And how about suitable industries? Each industry has its specifics, as the object of its business activity, the attributes of its transactions, or the players in the industry’s community, just to mention a few.

Industries can be classified in terms of the 5 elements which express the characteristics of each industry as follows:

Wood: Hair, Fashion, Fabric, Books, Paper, Media, Environment, Garden, Art, Furniture

Fire: Human Resources, Entertainment, Restaurant, Aviation, Stock Market, Yoga, Psychology, Ba Zi Suan Ming

Earth: Real Estate, Land Property, Construction, High Tech, Pottery, Plastics, Computer, Feng Shui

Metal: Engineering, Banking, Automotive, Jewellery, Skin Care, Acupuncture, High Tech

Water: Communication, Bar, Spa, Wellness, Shipping, Transportation, Chemistry

For advising a person about their suitable industry, the prevailing element in the basic chart applies. With Earth as the dominant element in the chart, the recommended industries for this woman are: Real Estate, Land Property, Construction, High Tech, Pottery, Plastics, Computer, as well as the field of Feng Shui.



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