If you’re pondering a big change now that life post-virus is starting to get back to normal, here is an exercise that can help. They are called Cartesian Questions. They are four questions developed by French philosopher, mathematician, and writer, René Descartes. He famously said, “I think therefore I am.” Thinking about your answers to these questions will help give you a new perspective on possible outcomes.

Now that we have a vaccine for Covid, we can start to look to the future. People are starting to think about how their lives can be different going forward. Perhaps you’ve gotten a taste of working remotely, home schooling, spending more time with your family, spending less time in your car commuting, or maybe you even started cooking at home every day. You might like some of these changes, and others you probably can’t wait until they end.

Life has changed, and perhaps we want some of these new aspect to stay that way.

More than half a million people in the U.S. lost their lives to Covid. That number continues to grow. But now we have a vaccine that can help bring this plague to an end. It’s making people feel the fragility of life. We’re not all guaranteed 100 years on this planet. They don’t want to waste any more time doing what doesn’t bring them joy.

Contemplating Big Life Changes

Some people I talk to don’t want to go back to working in an office environment. They like the freedom of working remotely, and realize they don’t need to sit in an office all day to be productive.

Some are contemplating leaving their jobs altogether. They don’t want to be employees anymore. We all need money to survive, but do we need to continue to earn money in the same way we always have.

Some people are feeling a strain in their relationships after spending so much time at home together. We all need human connection to be happy, but some people are wondering if they really want to spend the rest of their lives with their current partner.

Perhaps you want to start a side hustle or leave your job altogether, or have a child, or start a business, or go back to school, or get divorced. Whatever it is that is tickling your mind, these questions can help you look at your options from all angles.

Here is an example:
I have a friend who was debating a major career decision that involved a move to a new city. He is a family man, so his decision would affect others as well as himself. When he was younger and unattached, it was easier to make choices. He didn’t have a wife, kids, and dog to worry about. But now decisions are much more difficult for him. I gave him this set of Cartesian Questions to help him see clearly what his decision could mean to him and his family.

Cartesian Questions

What will happen if I do?
What will happen if I don’t?
What won’t happen if I do?
What won’t happen if I don’t?

If you’re debating a major decision, these four questions will help you look at a problem from all angles. The questions may seem similar at first glance. But really think about them. They will give you very different answers.

When we are contemplating an action, we naturally look ahead to determine what the outcome will be. We dream, we worry, we hope, we try to predict the future. We get so wrapped up in what will happen that we don’t often think about what won’t happen as a result of our decisions.

To help choose your action, ask yourself these four questions. Download a free worksheet with these Cartesian Questions to make your decision easier.

They worked for my friend and for me too on occasion. They can work for you, too.