KC20: How To Make Great Decisions Using Cartesian Questions Episode

Have you ever struggled with making decisions? Especially big & scary ones…

Fret not!

In today’s episode, I’ll share with you one unique way to make great decisions. This will probably appeal to you if you take a more strategic and logical approach in life!

This method is called the Cartesian Questions. It is named after René Descartes, a French philosopher, mathematician and scientist who lived between 1596 to 1650.

He is famous for having made an important connection between geometry and algebra which allowed for the solving of geometrical problems by way of algebraic equations.

Did I lose you there? 🙂


I first came across this methodology and framework over 10 years ago and in fact cited the Cartesian questions in my book called Powerful Questions which I wrote back in 2005

I’ve also used this several times since especially when I had to make difficult decisions. The power & magic of this technique is it forces us to examine from 4 different angles we might not have thought or explored about the decision to be made.

The Cartesian Quadrants & Questions

So without further ado, let me show you the Cartesian Quadrants and its 4 questions.

The top left question asks…
What will happen if I do this?

The top right question asks…
What will happen if I don’t do this?

The bottom left question asks…
What won’t happen if I do this?

And finally, the bottom right question asks…
What won’t happen if I don’t do this?

Simple questions, aren’t they?

At first glance, the diagonally opposite questions may seem to produce the same answers and that’s perfectly fine.

By asking a question in a different way, our minds can sometimes elicit different answers and that’s really the goal of this entire method and that is to explore all possibilities.

Going Deeper…

Now let’s check out the 4 questions a bit more and I’ll share with you how I used it recently.

Question #1 is the easiest…
What will happen if I do this?

It assists us to clarify the obvious and to realize what else could happen as a result of making the decision or change.

Now onto question #2…
What will happen if I don’t do this?

It helps us see why we may not want things to remain the way they are and to spot possible pain points.

As for question #3…
What won’t happen if I do this?

It helps us realize any possible loss resulting from making the change or decision.

And finally question #4, arguably the toughest question…
What won’t happen if I don’t do this?

This helps uncover any other possibilities not answered with question #1.

My Personal Example

Now let me share an instance of how I used these questions.

In very early 2017, I was considering going for a pricey mentorship program. One that would require a 5 figure investment.

With question #1, I came up with 6 points such as…

#1 – I’ll be networking with high income earners who are willing to invest in themselves
#2 – Learn to create high-converting funnels to generate consistent passive income
#3 – Save in income tax
#4 – Possibility of high ticket masterminds of my own
#5 – Invest 5 figures into the program & funnel
#6 – Invest time into the program & glean from the mentor

With question #2… I had 4 points such as…

#1 – Life goes on…
#2 – Remote possibility of passive income using method X
#3 – I keep my 5 figures course fee
#4 – I lose my opportunity of learning from the mentor

For questions #3 & #4…

I was stumped no matter how hard I tried to answer them because as far as I’m concerned in this instance, questions #1 & #2 have already taken care of it.

Having examined all 4 questions and seeing the responses weighing in 1 clear direction, I knew there was to be only 1 outcome hence I signed up & went for the program.

In your own life, you can use these Cartesian Questions in making a decision on just about anything you can think of from deciding about a marathon, to getting into a new relationship or checking out a new place of worship or even deciding a career change.

I believe in this framework enough I didn’t hesitate using it together with my wife for us to explore a great opportunity of being based overseas within a year for 1-2 years for us and our children.


In closing, I’ve introduced the Cartesian Questions to you and the strength of this unique method.

It’s certainly not the only way to approach making strategic decisions.

Are you in the midst of making a huge decision in your life?

If so, why not give these 4 questions a go?

If you would like to go through the Cartesian method with me in making an important life decision, do reach out at KelvinChan.org.

I’ll love to see how I can assist… and work together with you! 🙂