We should be clear from the outset that we are not talking here about choosing between good and evil. Choosing good means mobilizing my gifts into creating something positive for our world. Choosing evil means introducing something destructive into the world. It should be obvious that this is not the kind of choice we are talking about here.
Rather, the choice we have in mind here involves deciding between two goods: e.g. Should I take job A or job B? Should I stay at home or go abroad? Am I called to be married, or single, or become a priest, or join a religious community? Faced with choices such as these, how do I come to a decision?
The first step – and the most important one – is to ask God, in the light of your concrete circumstances, to let you choose what would better serve God and humanity, what is most in tune with your own God-given desires. This is a gift we should ask for frequently because it is foundational in our lives. It means entering into a place of freedom and generosity in your heart.
With this disposition as background, you might try the following ‘day-dreaming’ exercise.
From the two alternatives you have in mind, take the first one and imagine yourself occupying that choice, as if you were living it out now. Step into that choice, become an embodiment of it, and make it your own. Notice how you feel in it, how you are reacting. Do you feel at home in it, or not? Do you have a sense of peace, or the opposite? Do you sense that it fits your dreams? Does it seem to fit in with your gifts? Does it offer you room for you to grow? Does it challenge you to step outside your limitations? Write down what the experience is like, without filtering your thoughts or ordering them in any way. This is not a literary exercise, and it’s for your eyes only!
When you’ve done that, step into the second choice and go through the exact same process again, this time from the other perspective.
It is often good to repeat this exercise several times, until you feel that you have truly experienced each choice as a lived reality. Now you should be in a position to compare and contrast the two experiences, getting a sense of which one appeals more to your deeper self, and which one would serve God and humanity best in your situation. It can take some time for this to emerge, so resist the temptation to rush to a conclusion.
When you feel that one of the alternatives stands out as seemingly right for you, bring this choice to God, and offer it to him for confirmation. Confirmation will usually come in the form of a deepening sense of peace, peace that endures over time. We can trust decisions rooted in that kind of peace.