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Words By Tara Wagner

How to Make a BIG DECISION When You’re TORN

Tara sitting on emerald pin-tucked couch thinking

Sometimes figuring out how to make a big decision is hard because we know what we need to do, but we’re just afraid to do it. But sometimes we are legit stuck between a rock and a hard place and the choice is just not clear.

In this blog, I want to share a strategy that I have used in those situations and in fact, just used to help me make one of the hardest decisions of my life become crystal clear; not easy, but clear. So if you’re in the same predicament, grab some paper, grab a pen, and let’s jump in.

Watch here or read below.

How to Make a BIG DECISION When You’re TORN Click To Tweet

I know that there is a lot of inspiration and encouragement out there that makes it feel like it’s simple and sometimes it is; sometimes we know exactly what we need to do and we just don’t want to do it, but sometimes it’s not so cut and dry.

I’m not going to promise that this process is going to be easy or simple or fast, there are no quick fixes and it would be condescending to assume that the decision that you’re making could be made that easily.

Girl resting chin on fists thinking

When you are facing a big decision, it does take time, it does take effort, it takes some processing. It might take multiple sessions of what I’m about to walk you through. And I totally get it because, again, sometimes the choice is clear and we just don’t want to choose it, but sometimes the choice is really difficult.

We’ve recently gone through this same exact thing. We are currently living in Florida as I write this, our 19 year old son moved out about 5 months ago and is living on his own and starting to kind of get his stuff together and doing good, but our family back in Las Vegas is struggling. And we were facing this decision of do we move back to our hometown of Las Vegas where we don’t want to be, but to be able to be closer to the people that we love – leaving behind our son, or do we stay in Florida where we also don’t really want to be, but our son is here – and then we’re not getting the time spent with parents and grandparents?

We were legit stuck between a rock and a hard place.

There is no easy option when none of your choices are a hell yes, but you still have to make a choice, or not making a choice is still making a choice and so you still have to face that crossroads and figure it out. I took my own advice. We went through the same process that I would take anybody else through when they’re facing a big decision like this and through that process, it became crystal clear what we needed to do.

I’m going to walk you through that process and I’m going to give you some real life examples sharing how we did it.

Now, if you have a big whiteboard like we do, I highly recommend it. It really makes a big difference to take everything out of your head and be able to see it in front of you. If you don’t have that, you could get some poster board, you could get some big giant roll of paper to hang on the walls, you could do this on a computer as well or just on a sketch pad or something simple like that too.

Before you even get to all of the whiteboard magic, which I’m going to walk you through, the first thing you need to do is:


Set aside some real time for yourself to process through this, as much as you can.

So what my husband and I allowed ourselves to do is take a couple of weeks to just think and brew and kind of come up with all of the thoughts and concerns and challenges that we might face in this decision (Kind of in the back of our minds, we didn’t really write anything down, but I would actually recommend that. It would’ve made it a little bit easier for us how do we kind of been jotting things down over those couple of weeks, but it’s not absolutely necessary).

What is necessary though is when you get into this process, I recommend you have as much time as you can, several hours, because the process is simple, the framework is simple, but the magic that’s going to come through the framework takes some time and you’re not going to want to feel rushed because that pressure is not going to help you create a clear answer.

Also, I don’t recommend doing this alone.

Obviously I had my husband to help me with this, but if you’re facing the choice by yourself, I would recommend calling in a friend, a family member, a mentor, a coach, somebody that you trust to walk you through this process because you need a sounding board and other people are going to be able to see blind spots that you’re not going to be able to see.

So how I did this, like I said, we took several weeks to just kind of process, let our emotions come up, think things through, and then we took an entire Saturday afternoon. I think the whole process probably took us about three hours total to just walk through what I’m about to walk you through.


Step number two happens at the beginning of that chunk of time and this is to cultivate the right mindset as you go into this process, and you do this through your SELF TALK and you do this through SETTING INTENTIONS.

I recommend your self talk be a little bit like a pep talk, reminding yourself that this process will be challenging, it will not be perfect and you will likely land on a solution that may still require some sacrifices, but that you are capable of going through this process.

The truth is we decide the outcome by how we show up in the equation. (Tara Wagner) Click To Tweet

Meaning if you go into this process feeling like crap and allowing yourself to have crappy thoughts, you’re going to have a crappy process and a crappy outcome and you’re not going to feel any more clear at the end of it than when you started because you’re still going to have all of that resistance.

When you can work to master your self talk and set some healthy intentions at the beginning of it, you’re going to be able to go into it feeling stronger knowing that although this is going to be a challenge, you can totally manage this, and setting some healthy, realistic expectations for what this is going to look like and really setting the intention that at the end of this, no matter what, you are going to walk away with more clarity.

Now I’m going to take you through the next steps using our actual whiteboard, our actual scribbles that we used as we were going through this decision [as shown in the video above], so that you can get a clearer idea of how this process might look for you.

tara hands up in front of white board


The third step of this process is probably the most important step and that is to determine two things, both of your VALUES and your GOALS.

Now, if you are doing this yourself as an individual, you’re just going to do it as your individual goals and values, but if you are doing this with a spouse, with a business partner, etc. You’re also going to do this as, “what are your values together, what are your goals as a couple”, things like that.

So these are the things that we wrote down as we were making our decision.

  • freedom
  • adventure
  • health
  • community
  • beauty
  • family

These are not in any particular order, which is why family’s at the bottom when technically this was kind of forefront of our mind, we were like… “Oh yeah, maybe we should actually write it down.”

These are the top values that came to mind when we were making this decision. It doesn’t necessarily mean there are all encompassing values or every one of our values, but they were the most important ones that we wanted to keep in mind as we’re going throughout this process.

tara pointing at list on white board

We also wrote down our goals, and for us, we were thinking about retirement, business growth, financial goals, things that we wanted to do in terms of travel and things like that. And again, these were the things that aren’t our all encompassing goals, they don’t necessarily go into a lot of detail, but we knew what they meant.

When we were talking about biz goals, we were really looking at our big vision – so what this allows you to do is create something of a touchstone so that the next steps you go through, you’re going to be using this list throughout those steps.

So they might vary for you and that’s okay, but really try to get as much as you can here, even if you go into the next steps and you’ve got to come back and add a little bit more to this because you forgot about it, that’s okay, but you need to have these before you go into this next step of the process.


Step number four is to list out at least three, but preferably as many options as you can.

A lot of times when we’re facing a crossroad, we think it’s one thing or the other and this will strip away our sense of freedom, of autonomy, of control, and it creates a lot of frustration and a lot of the resistance that we have, but once we start to realize that we actually have more options than we think, it gives us a sense of empowerment.

So this may not seem like a very important step, but I found it to be a really powerful one. You want to just brainstorm every possible thing that you could do even if you might not. You’re brainstorming these without judgment. You’re writing everything down.

tara pointing at list on white board

Step #5 is to take all of those options and start narrowing them down by which ones align with our values and goals.

So what we had here was a huge list of things that we could potentially do. We can move back to Vegas, we could stay in Florida, we could move near to Vegas, we could travel back and forth and have a seasonal home.

There were a ton of ideas that we had and we literally listed them all out and then what we do is we align each one with our values and our goals.

  • Does this help us meet our goals?
  • Does this align with our values and what is truly important in our lives?
  • And also How much does it align?

Because really what we’re looking for is to prioritize these

We’re going to mark off ones that are just not going to work and then we’re going to prioritize what’s left in terms of best option, best alignment, or highest alignment to lowest alignment.

Now, in our situation, we narrowed it down to about two or three choices and the next thing that we did was to see which of these choices could be improved upon. So in other words, if we decided to move back to Vegas, is there a way that we can do it that allows us to align more with our needs/values and our goals?

For instance, do we have to live in a certain area of town or could we look at something on the outskirts of town? Or if we moved back, what would we do with our time there in order to make sure that it was the best possible experience that we could have?

I talk a lot about understanding your needs in my free Bottlenecks to Breakthroughs training and in my free Self-Care in Seconds training, because this is such an overlooked area.

We really need to understand first what our needs are, and you’re going to notice that your needs align a lot with your values, but you’re also going to want to just look at other things that you might need to do so that when you’re looking at these and you’re saying, “You know I’m down to two or three choices and I don’t totally see how they align with my values, is there something that I can do to make it align better?

Not just “what can I do?”, but “how can I do it in a way that’s going to align with values and goals?” Which is how we filled this entire whiteboard.

When we had narrowed it down to “yes, the right decision for us is painfully to leave our child in Florida and move back to Las Vegas, how will we do this in a way that is going to serve our values, our goals and the things most important to us?” We literally wrote it all out.

  • We brainstormed what our dream home would need to look like
  • We brainstormed the things that we would need to find there to make it the best move possible for us as a couple
  • We figured out how many times a year we could fly here or fly our son to us (because let’s face it, one airplane ticket is cheaper than two)
  • We’ve even looked at how we wanted to spend our time there and the habits and the hobbies and things like that that we wanted to cultivate

All to make sure that although this choice is hard and although this choice is not going to be a long term move for us (or something that we’re super excited about), we’re going to do it in a way that really serves us and aligns with who we are, our values and our goals and what we want to create in our relationship, in our business, and in our life.


I have a free mindset training where I talk about the 5 things we must align to create the life and business that we love. Click the button below or click here to learn more.


I would love for you to share a time when you faced a big decision and what helped you to make those tough choices, or drop me any questions in the comments below if you’re needing support on this topic as well.

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