desire possession matrix example cardsmith

Desire and Possession Matrix

This is a useful matrix for gaining self-awareness and generating inputs to the goal-setting process. When we can clearly see what we want (or want more of), along with what we have and don’t have, patterns emerge. Then we can identify small and large changes that might be effective in improving our job, relationship, or any situation we’re dealing with (or simply our entire lives).

Choose an area to focus on from your life (such as your work situation), and then add items via cards to the matrix, positioning them along the spectrums of the X and Y axes.   

X-axis: This is the spectrum from Don’t Have (any) to Have (lots). Keep in mind that with some items, it may not be a clear “Have” or “Don’t Have.” For example, take money. You probably have some money. Do you want more?  How much more?  If you want lots more money, place the card far to the right. 

Y-axis:  This is the Don’t Want/Want spectrum. It starts on the left with Don’t Want (at all) to Want (somewhat, or badly) on the right.  

What to place in each zone of the matrix:

  1. Want/Don’t Have. These are potential goals to work towards.
  2. Want/Have. These are things to be grateful for and to protect. As you set goals, you may want to consider these items and make sure you don’t sacrifice something valuable that you already have in the pursuit of something new.
  3. Don’t Want/Don’t Have. You can ignore these items for the most part. However, when considering new options or steps to take, you can look to make sure you don’t take on things that are in this category.
  4. Don’t Want/Have. When you consider changes to make or steps to take, try to design them in a way that will eliminate some of these items. 
  5. Zone of Ambivalence / Ambiguity. These are things that you may want sometimes want but not at other times. This can be subtle. You may be using internal “protection strategies” to avoid wanting something that you deem yourself unable to obtain or accomplish. Take money again as an example. You may want more money, but don’t believe you can get it. Therefore, you’re afraid of wanting it. So then you tell yourself things like, “Money is not important to me.” or “I can live on very little money.” The items in your Ambivalent/Ambiguous zone are worth thoughtful attention. Reflect on them to get more clarity about what you want and don’t want.

Viewing all your items in relationship to each other can reveal new insights and synergies. For example, you might see that you would be very happy in your current job if you could just make a small change. Sometimes, a small change can remove things you don’t want (which is good!) and bring in things you do want. 

So this is a great tool to use BEFORE using the path to a desired state template.  

Cardsmith Pro-tip: Use the Zoom Slider Bar to make the background image larger or smaller in order to fit your screen.