Liguori Press and the Journey of Faith handouts did a good job of dressing discernment. They proposed a seven-step process to handle it. Oddly enough this is very similar to a business’s decision making process, with the addition of prayer.
*]Formulate a Proposition - The question itself, in simple terms. “Should I join a particular religious Order?”
*]Gather the Data - Be creative. Consider all the options that answer the given question and the pros and cons of each. Consider also any potential obstacles including yourself.
*]Bring the Gathered Data to Prayer - Now that you have all the information you need to make a decision, it is time to start praying. God will, in time, start to nudge and call us in one direction or another. Sometimes this input is more obvious than others.
*]Make a Decision - Sometimes, God will make the calling obvious. In other times, you must make a decision, based on what you have experienced in prayer and what you objectively know. Remember that the right decision is not always the most comfortable or attractive.
*]Live with the Decision - This is especially important for those of us who are impulsive. Before actually acting on a decision, we must live with it, as if we had already made it. This allows us to see all the consequences and attachments that may still be intimidating us.
*]Act on the Decision - If we are still firmly convicted that the choice we have made is the correct one, we must then act upon it, even if we are required to give something up to which we are still quite attached.
*]Seek confirmation in the decision.
Not everyone has the Gift of Discernment, but it is one that can be learned through Trial and Error. It is okay to make mistakes. This is why most orders have long, drawn out processes of initiation; so that novices can have time to come to terms with what they are actually doing.