Fog on the roadI believe there is an epidemic many people are dealing with these days. It is the epidemic of “I don’t know what to do with my life.”

I run into it all the time as I spend time talking with employees, friends and business associates. People seem lost.

From time to time we all question direction in our lives but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about an all-out fog in people’s minds about what career to pursue or what type of education to obtain.

This lack of clarity and direction is producing extreme anxiety and stress in many people. As leaders what can we do about this?

One of the best ways you can provide relevant, life-changing influence is to help people gain some focus on this very important issue. Here are four tips you can use:

1. Help them see their unique strengths

Often people can’t get a picture of what they can be great in because they are unclear on their own strengths. Help them by communicating what you see as being strong in their performance, behavior and natural gifting. You can also use tools like DISC or Meyers Briggs testing to help them discover some things about themselves.

2. Provide objectivity

I recently heard that leaders of influence should provide objectivity instead of sympathy for those we lead. People can get sympathy anywhere- it is readily available from friends, family members and on Facebook. What people don’t often get is a wise, objective opinion. Sometimes that’s not what they want, but it really is what they need as they are trying to make life direction decisions.

3. Help them take one step

Trying to get a vision for the future is not a quick and easy undertaking. Sometimes it does take awhile to reveal itself. But one step today will help overcome some of the anxiety and worry that people feel.

Help them by:

  • Connecting them with someone that is already in a career that they have interest in.
  • Steering them to a book or resource that provides information on a specific career.
  • Helping them set up a visit with a college career counselor

There are all sorts of practical things people can do to take a step, we often just need to give them a little nudge.

4. Occasionally you may need to push them out of the nest

This one is hard but sometimes people can become so stuck in their familiar environments that they waste months or years in the process of finding their place.

As leaders sometimes the kindest thing we can do for them is to move them along for their own good.

This mind fog has exploded over the past few years – partly due to the economic crisis, and also because of the challenge of finding employment after college. You may be the only person providing direction and guidance to someone trying to find their place. Be uncommon in someone’s life by providing objectivity, helping them discover their strengths or take one step.

What are some other ways we can provide influence to help people gain clarity on their future?