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Cartesian Coordinate Questions - What’s Keeping you Stuck?

I think Cartesian coordinates are actually an application of a mathematical idea, but that’s not where I’m going with this today - I doubt my maths is up to scratch to be honest! But in essence, it's all to do with graphs and proving theories, however you can apply this really interestingly to decision making, and that's the focus of this article.


When working with clients, it’s important for me to know what it is they want to achieve but sometimes they just don’t know! They might know what they don’t want, but reframing this to be in the positive can sometimes be a bit trickier.

These questions can be a little tough but occasionally you have to jump right in at the deep end!


What Cartesian coordinate questions will allow you to do is to consider decisions in a new light so that you'll be able to look at them differently, from a fresh perspective, and as you do that, you’ll possibly see new options. You'll also have a chance to assess if these decisions are ‘congruent’ - if they fit with what you want to do and how you want to live your life.


It’s a little bit like making a pros and cons list only with more consideration - plus a whole new level. This will trigger a whole new way of thinking about solutions, and problems and decisions.


It’s a really interesting way of focusing on a problem or decision. However, there is a certain amount of linguistic cleverness that comes with these questions - you really need to dig deep and stay focused!


The first thing you have to do is decide on an issue, for example, you may be having doubts about the job you have - whether to stay or leave!


So these are the four questions you’re going to ask yourself - The first one is ‘what will happen if I do this?’ - ‘what will be the consequence if I leave this job? What will occur if I leave this job?’


The second question then, is ‘what will happen if I don't leave his job? What will be the effect or consequence on my life if I don't leave this job?


Looking at these two questions first, you might decide that if you leave your current job, there is a chance of a new job, one with more responsibilities or one with better hours/conditions.

You might find something more fulfilling. However you also have to consider that you may have less money or might be no longer working with a great colleague.

Looking at the second question - ‘what happens if I don’t leave this job?’ You may have to consider things like staying in a job with no chance of promotion or working for a boss that you don’t respect. But balance that with the fact that it might be well paid or have hours that suit childcare needs.

Then we move to the third question - ‘What won't happen if you do leave this job? ‘what will not happen as a result of leaving this job?’

You may just have to pause slightly to think about this one.

For example, it might be that you won’t be able to afford a new car or a holiday this year, but on the other hand, you won’t feel that sense of dread every Sunday evening knowing it’s the start of another week in a job you don’t really enjoy any more.

So if you've been following this, you can probably guess what the fourth question is!

The fourth question is ‘What won't happen If I do not leave this job?’ What won't occur?

We’ll If you don't leave the job then nothing changes.

Maybe that means that you won’t be fulfilled? Maybe you won’t be able to fulfil your ambitions.


This question can be quite tricky to answer and may take some thinking about, but once you get your head around it, it really starts to unravel some ideas about what is keeping you stuck.

This is the question that really gets to the heart of the problem and starts to get some clarity about your final decision.

So just to recap on the questions again - Focus on the problem and then ask yourself:

What will happen if you do?

What will happen if you don't?

What won't happen you do?

What won't happen if you don't?

Once you've really explored the answers to these questions it will start to give you a really different sense of what's going on, what really lies at the heart of what you want.


Before trying them out on a big decision, try them out on something smaller and easier - see where they take you! Let me know what you think!

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