11/06/2014 10:32 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Make the Best Decision

2014-10-23-iStock_000016772711Small.jpg(photo by princigalli via Getty Images)

Sarah was longing to leave her soul-crushing job. Angie was dreaming of a more harmonious relationship. They both were stuck in an inner slugfest of indecision.

Nothing was changing except their minds, which zig-zagged back and forth like chipmunks on crack.

Exhausted, scared and suffering from headaches and insomnia, Sarah and Angie's weight soared while their energy and self-esteem plummeted.

Sarah tried meditating. She made endless lists of the pros and cons, and repeatedly asked the advice of all of her friends until they stopped returning her calls. Frustrated, she called a psychic, flipped coins, and stayed up all night googling different options.

Angie had her astrology chart done, journaled till her fingers were cramped, and wore out her knees praying for an answer during a month-long silent retreat.

Still no decisions were made.

If you are reading this, you might be struggling with a tough decision too.

Here are four powerful tips to help you take the leap.

Tip #1
Making a big decision is a process, not an event. If you are feeling overwhelmed and confused it may be because you don't have enough information. Forcing change prematurely can lead to despair and regret later. Take a deep breath and relax. Gather evidence until you know the truth.

Tip #2
Only you know the truth. Looking for answers from anywhere but inside yourself will be fruitless and frustrating. However, having a wise person listen and question some of the scary stories you are telling yourself can be very helpful. For a DIY solution, check out Byron Katie's The Work.

Tip #3
Hidden Obstacles. Often we can't make a decision because something we are completely unaware of has a death grip on our forward momentum. Here are the three most common causes of staying stuck:

  • Perfectionsim
  • Wanting to make the "perfect" choice holds us back from making any choice at all. An informed decision always leads to somewhere better. The destination may be different from our original plan, but it will be a whole lot better than being stuck, sick, and miserable. Doors open, new adventures begin, magic happens!
  • People Pleasing
  • Choosing to stay in an unhappy situation to please others never works out well for anyone. Resentment builds and when the truth finally does comes out, it isn't pretty. Our loved ones will always be happier when we are.
  • Fear
  • "The Bag Lady Fear" is one we all share, even men. Thank your fear for trying to keep you safe, and then move forward anyway. Elizabeth Gilbert recently said:

"Your fear is not special, it's the most boring thing about you (and me). Your creativity & passion are special! Don't listen to fear. Onward!"

Tip #4
Don't rely solely on "thinking" about your decision. Try experiencing it through your body instead. The verbal mind only processes 40 bits of information per second while the body processes 11 million bits per second. In comparison to the body, our mind is sluggish, fickle and unreliable, driven by the ego, and changing from moment to moment.

Instead of "thinking" about your decision, try this 1-minute experiment as taught to me by Martha Beck:

1. Sit quietly for a few moments taking some nice deep breaths. Close your eyes.

2. Think of something or someone who isn't good for you.

3. Notice your body's reaction to this person or thing. (You might feel a tightening in your gut, chest or throat.)

4. Next think of someone or something you absolutely love.

7. Now observe your body's reaction. It will feel wildly different. You might feel lighter or some warmth in your chest near your heart.

These bodily reactions are your truth. Check how your body feels about each decision you are considering.

Our bodies will never lie or steer us wrong. It is our own personal, portable bullsh*t detector. The more we access it for decision making the louder and clearer the feedback becomes.

From people, to jobs, to food, the body knows the absolute truth of what is good for us. Get quiet and listen with your body.

Ultimately the body wins in the end anyway.

When we don't listen to the early signs of distress, a twinge in the neck for example, a loss of energy, the body may continue to yell louder until we get headaches, stomachaches and increasingly more serious stress related diseases.

Unfortunately I learned this the hard way. I was so focused on what my thinking brain was telling me I should do,"Take more Tylenol! Work harder!" and so completely adept at ignoring the painful messages coming from my body that I literally almost died of a brain tumor.

If you don't yet have the guts to go for your dream, it might be helpful to remember that the number one regret of dying people is this:

"I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."

Before she passed away, my dear friend Shirley told me why she truly hated indecision. She said it felt like letting yourself being endlessly tossed around in the ocean waves and doing absolutely nothing about it. So I invite you to do as she often did and what I do now, grab a boogie board, choose a fabulous wave and go for it!

(photo by Joey Boylan via Getty Images)