Here are some tips (all pages references are to Alcoholics Anonymous). Not all tips will apply in all situations.
First of all, I have to clear away emotions that could distort the decision or reduce them to natural proportions:
- If I have emotional disturbance around the question, I do four-column inventory and apply the prayers on page 67. I endeavour to forgive everyone for everything.
- If I am frightened, I do the inventory on page 68 and apply the instructions on the same page for eliminating the fear. I decide to serve God and only God and rise above the fear.
- If there are outstanding amends in the area, I make those before the decision (pages 76–83).
Spiritually preparing for making a decision:
- I apply the page 86 instructions for the beginning of the day before praying specifically on the topic (asking God to direct my thinking), etc.
- I ask specifically to be guided by what I can give not what I can get—I remember that I’m there to do God’s will, not my will, and I’m there to help the rest of God’s kids get their heart’s desire by performing His work well (see page 63).
- I ask specifically ‘what is for the good of all?’
The decision-making process itself is divided into several stages.
Stage 1: aim
- What is the purpose, the outcome, the objective of the proposed course of action? What problem or lack does the proposed course of action seek to solve? (Tradition Five: what is the primary purpose?)
- What spiritual principles are going to guide the attainment of that purpose (e.g. usefulness, kindness, tact, consideration, humility)? The principles for how to make amends on pages 76–83 are very good on general spiritual principles, as are pages 110–135.
- Even if something is God’s will, is it God’s will for me, as opposed to anyone else? Is God really delegating this one to me? (Twelve Concepts)
- Is this genuinely God’s will or is this self-centredness dressed up as God’s will? Are there any secret selfish plans lurking? Bad motives lurking under good?
- Am I personally attached to a particular outcome (Tradition Six)?
- Am I being over-organised—in other words controlling (Tradition Nine)?
Stage 2: options
- What are the available options (i.e. what courses of action are open to me, including doing nothing)?
- What would each involve, practically?
Stage 3: assessment
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
- What are the risks associated with each option?
- What experience do I have with each option?
Stage 4: consulting others
- I consult one or two highly trusted individuals who are logical, rational, reasonable, experienced, and have a sense of humour.
- I don’t shop around for views or I will confuse myself.
- Is this a decision which involves other people? Do I need their permission (Tradition Four)?
- Is this a decision which should be made jointly? Do I need to hold a ‘group conscience’ with them? (Tradition Two)
Stage 5: asking God
- I ask God specifically for direction.
- I listen to or read spiritual materials, seeking guidance through those materials.
- I sit quietly and wait for answers.
- I write down anything that comes.
- I consult back with the one or two highly trusted individuals.
Stage 6: conclusion
- I choose an option from amongst those available.
- I follow through.
- If the decision turns out to be wrong, I admit it promptly.