Cartesian Questions – If you are on cross-roads

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

  1. Define problem/decision/action statement.
  2. Work through all the questions in the order.
  3. Assess all the answers for each question.
  4. 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.

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