René Descartes (1596-1650) who was a French philosopher and a mathematician gave the concept of Cartesian questions. It is a useful tool for making decisions. This effective way of asking questions which opens the mind to new alternatives and possibilities.
Cartesian Coordinates refers to a set of mathematical concepts. However for decision making we can use same formulae to create four compelling questions. These questions are called Cartesian questions.
Cartesian questions help you in making a decision – or seeking a particular goal. Some other benefits of this tool are :-
- Gives you new perspectives to look at the things, which you might not have considered earlier.
- Gives you clarity on what will and won’t happen in different situations.
- Helps in understanding what inspires you and blocks you.
- Helps you explore new solutions and resources
- Identifying secondary gains.
- Helps in understanding ecology of a goal or decision.
- Identifying and exploring values.
- Explores underlying thoughts , beliefs related to goals
Steps involved in decision making through cartesian questions
- Define problem/decision/action statement.
- Work through all the questions in the order.
- Assess all the answers for each question.
- Make a decision.
Step1 : Defining problem / decision/action statement
I want to leave my current job and join a company in my home town at a lower salary package.
Step2 : Work through all the questions
Cartesian Question1 :
What won’t happen , if I leave my current job ?
- The heavens won’t fall.
- My annual salary hike of 10% won’t happen.
- My incentive and bonuses won’t be credited into my account.
- I won’t starve to death, I have enough money to survive for the next 6 months, even if I don’t have a job.
Cartesian Question2 :
What would happen , if I leave my current job ?
- I will be working in my home town.
- I will have to prove myself again in the new company.
- There will be a risk of entering into unknown.
- I will have to spend less -rent, food , travel cost will reduce.
- I will be able to save more because of less expenses.
- I will have better health (less pollution in my home town) and better life (less time in commuting).
- I will have better health, will get home cooked food.
- I will spend more time with my family and friends.
Cartesian Question 3 :
What won’t happen , if I did not leave my current job ?
- I won’t ever be happy ,working under the same supervisor who thinks I am an idiot and I reciprocate the feelings.
- I won’t be able live with my ageing parents.
- I won’t save much owing to rent, food , travel expenses etc.
- I won’t get promotion at-least in the next three years.
Cartesian Question 4 :
What would happen , if I did not leave my current job ?
- I will do my routine job, something I am comfortable doing .
- I would get at-least a salary hike of 10%
- I would be frustrated and unhappy employee.
- I would keep on trying for the jobs .
Step3 : Assessing Answers
- Assess all the answers and look for the points , which surface up again and again.
- Points and words that resonate , make a list of them on a piece of paper.
- Once the list is made , use (+) sign if it suggests in favour of the decision and (-) for going against the decision.
- Also, see if you come up with additional consequences , which you had never thought in first place.
Step4 : Decision Making
Take all the new perspectives into consideration and make a decision. Don’t be afraid to do what your heart tells you to do. Trust the decision and commit to it.
Remember, whatever decision you make, it’s not the end of the world.