Often, we think discernment is trying to figure out, by whatever means, what vocation one should choose and dedicate your life to. Or, in another way, trying to figure out what God is calling you to.
But that isn’t discernment. Not at least the kind of insight you are wanting to work towards. What you are describing is a useful and necessary step, but it is not a formal discernment.
Vocation discernment is actively living in a vocation to determine what you have chosen is right. This means if you are discerning priesthood: you are in the seminary living that out. If you are discerning marriage, you are dating or looking to date with the view towards marriage. If you are considering consecrated life, you are there living that out.
Many men feel called to live in a way that is different from what our culture has to offer. Some desire to conform their lives more closely to Christ. They long for truth and beauty and ultimately discover that their hearts are seeking to be more fully united with God.
Five Ways to Discern a Religious Vocation
I, Fr. Etienne Huard, Assistant Vocation Director of Conception Abbey, explore discernment more deeply on my blog, listenmyson.org, which includes resources, videos, posts, and more.