BismIllah wa as salaamu alaykum.
As Muslims, we are told to supplicate with the dua' of istikhara, whenever we have a decision to make in our lives. Big or small, istikhara is our direct line to Allah, our Creator and Sustainer, with our problems. Big or small, Allah guides us and responds to this prayer, giving us clarity in one form or another on which route to take.
I have had several different responses to my istikhara prayers which stand out in my mind. Most often, Allah sends an event or series of events that are clearly signs to deter me from continuing or to facilitate my progress. There have been other times when Allah has sent, within seconds, one clear sentence to my mind. Something that just summed it up in a nutshell and gave me my answer. Other times, I simply prayed on the subject and slept and woke up either feeling like sunshine or like a lead weight was in my mind and body. Sometimes a quote, hadith, ayat of Quran, or statement from someone will carry the answer. The one thing that is sure though is that I always get an answer.
I've talked to people who have told me they didn't have any answer from their istikhara or couldn't tell. I believe they were blinded by shaytaan to the response or perhaps never prayed with a heart genuinely seeking to follow Allah's Decree. An strong inner desire for a certain outcome seems to negate the very concept of istikhara, as the person isn't open to Allah's guidance and is really only seeking a reassurance or confirmation for what they want, not what is best.
However, the biggest issue I have noted, without a doubt, is those who avoid or delay praying istikhara because they are fearful of the outcome. These are people who say they believe that Allah's Plan is the best one, but are unwilling to find out what His Plan is. They have taken their future into their own hands, relying on their research, their contemplations, and their feelings rather than giving the matter up to Allah. Now I'm not saying that research, contemplation, and feelings should be ignored. What I am saying is that without tawakkal (total reliance) on Allah and submission to His Will and Guidance, they are straying far from the path that is best for them. Truly they are listening to the whispers of shaytaan, who doesn't want them to know in their hearts, without a doubt, that if they seek Allah's guidance on a matter and act accordingly, whatever the outcome, it will be a blessed thing.
Oh, please don't put off or ignore istikhara for fear of getting the response you don't want or that will make life (apparently) hard for you. We may have ideas about what is easy and best, but we are truly foolish to imagine that our ideas can substitute for Allah's Plan and Guidance. Not seeking Guidance and complying with it, may well be a large factor in why problems, confusion, or hardships persist.
May Allah guide us to support each other, encourage to the good, and put ALL our reliance, faith, and trust in Him Alone - ameen.