The 4 Questions You Must Ask Before Any Decision — Cartesian Coordinates

Do you easily get bogged down in content, feel stuck, and lose perspective of your key outcomes? If you’re anything like me and have a very analytical mind, you might find yourself wrestling with important decisions. If you want to discover one of the most powerful and effective decision-making tools in existence and used in my coaching, then read on, and discover Cartesian Coordinates!

What are Cartesian Coordinates and how do you use them?

Traditionally Cartesian Coordinates refers to a set of mathematical concepts, however, for the purposes of decision making we can leverage the same formulas to create four compelling questions:

As you read the questions, take care to notice the subtle differences in each. Although they sound simple, I absolutely love using this technique for three reasons.

  1. The questions become difficult and force you to think CREATIVELY, often in a way they never have before

  2. They provide you with CLARITY on what will and won’t happen in a variety of situations

  3. The method consistently provides a new PERSPECTIVE that you likely have not considered before, even when you have thought a great deal about the decision

How to use Cartesian Coordinates

Step One: Define your decision/action in a clear statement

Example: Quit my job and start my own business

Step Two: Work through the questions in order

What won’t happen if I quit my job and started my own business?

Be honest with yourself about what would not happen. I have listed some ideas to get you thinking, however, this is NOT a complete list.

  • Initially, I won’t be paid a salary and may need to budget/adjust my lifestyle

  • I won’t die or starve as I have enough savings for “x” period

  • My employer won’t disappear overnight — I can fall-back later

  • The world will not come to an end

What would happen if I did quit my job and started my own business?

Approach this question with a positive frame and assume success to give the fullest range of potential benefits. Examples could include:

  • I would be working for myself, accountable to myself, and responsible for my success

  • I would have to work very hard and be disciplined every day to make it a success

  • As I become successful I will likely make more money than I ever did for an employer, and pay myself

  • As I become successful, I will build a legacy for myself and hopefully my family after me

What won’t happen if I didn’t quit my job and start my own business?

This is the most difficult for people to process as it contains a double negative. This question is designed to be confusing and disrupt your thinking. Consider outcomes such as:

  • I would carry on working in a dead-end job that I am not passionate about

  • I won’t make any progress towards all the self-employment goals I tell myself I want so badly

  • I won’t know what could have been if I just tried

  • I won’t die if I keep working in the same job

  • The world will not end

I have frequently seen clients sit dumbstruck as they repeat the wording over and over, trying to understand the question. This is an excellent sign, and you must persevere with it. It is very common for people to experience a breakthrough in thinking and/or fresh game-changing perspectives with this question.

What will happen if I don’t quit my job and start my own business?

Finally, ask yourself what will happen if things stay the same.

  • I will continue to earn a decent wage, build a career, and work with great people

  • I will live comfortably but trade my time for money, working for others, and unless I change, hate my job

  • I will still have happy relationships with friends and family

  • Time will slip away faster than I realize, and I will always regret not trying and

Step Three: Assess your answers for each question

Answering those four questions is going to uncover a wide range of perspectives and new choices. Underline the points that resonate most with you, and highlight the words that catch your eye or have meaning to you. List these points side-by-side allocating them against taking the decision, or pursuing another direction. You will be able to identify recurring themes and additional consequences that you didn’t consider. Allow that new information to sit, as you look for the way forward, what sounds right, or what feels best for you.

Step Four: Make a decision

Leverage all the new perspectives and make a decision. Don’t be afraid to go with your intuition if it feels right, however either way trust the process, and commit. Remember, you have identified more choices than you had before. We have established facts and you most likely realize that whatever decision you make, it’s not the end of the world. Be confident, be bold, and make your desired outcome a reality.

Whichever way you choose — make it the right way

Final Thoughts

I highly recommend this tool as an excellent process to aid your decision making or assess your next actions in any situation. I hope that this post has taught you something new, and given you a new technique that you can use to enhance the quality of your decisions. Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts on the process or your experience trying this out!

To Your Empowerment & Freedom

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