Do you suffer from “Skills Burn-Out Syndrome” (SBS)?
You are probably going hmm … “Skills Burn-Out Syndrome” (SBS). This sounds serious!
In one of my more popular posts, I talked about the differences between talents and skills. We acquire skills throughout our careers, usually because they are required for our jobs, by our employers OR because they make us more valuable in the marketplace. Only occasionally, do we acquire skills because we want the skills.
If you have been working for more than ten years you have acquired multiple skills in that time. If you have been working for over thirty years like myself, you have acquired a whole lot more.
Note: This post was originally published in January of 2013 and updated in May of 2017
Some of these skills we are really good at!
Many of these skills paid the mortgage, put food on the table and put our kids through college.
Do you have skills valued in the market that you no longer want to use?
Do you suffer from “Skills Burn-Out Syndrome” The TLA (Three Letter Acronym) is “SBS.”
I am finding SBS increasingly common among baby boomers.
How many unhappy lawyers do you know? There are a lot of unhappy lawyers out there who suffer from SBS! They have valued skills that … many would choose to stop using, but do not for a lot of reasons: money, prestige, student loans …
In my post, Talents versus Skills – Do you know the difference, I talked about my talent for being a storyteller. I have spent most of my career in the computer and networking industries as a trainer and communicator. I developed the skill to inhale technologies and then spit them back out in stories, analogies, and pictures that anyone could understand.
My skill to inhale technologies was acquired over a very long period of time. It did not come naturally and when I overused it I would burn-out.
After my bicycle accident in 2002, where I should have died, I just did not want to do work in technology any longer. After teaching high school math and working for a non-profit for three years, I went back to using my old skills.
Why? I was lost and did not know what else to do. I relapsed back to what was familiar.
Falling Back to What is Familiar
After working for three years almost non-stop from 2007-2010, I said, “enough is enough.” I did not want to use those skills anymore. If I had to inhale yet another complex technology I was going to BARF! I loved the story-telling, but the inhaling of complex technologies that provided little value to our day-to-day life … well … BARF!
Could I do this? YES!
Would people pay me a lot of money to do this? YES!
Did I want to do this? NO!
Very often when we become directionless we fall back to what is familiar. That is what I did. What is familiar is not always what is good for us.
Does this sound familiar?
I have multiple clients who have used the same skills for years. Frankly, they would rather set their hair on fire than to keep on using them.
What happens when they tell friends and colleagues that they do want to use them anymore?
OHHH … you are so … good at it. Why would you want to stop?
I bet this sounds very familiar to a lot of you! I am sure when you hear this you start to doubt your thinking.
“Skills Burn-Out Syndrome” is when you overuse skills that are not connected to an innate talent.
Do you suffer from “Skills Burn-Out Syndrome” (SBS)?
Are you using skills that are not connected to an innate talent?
What skills do you possess that you do not want to use?
What is stopping you from doing something different?Marc Miller
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Mark Sutton says
The biggest question for a boomer could be: What do you want to do? Answer this and you can be assured that the passion for whatever they are doing in will come through.
First start out with what your talents. Your talents will often direct you to what you want to do.
John C says
I am the youngest of boomers (1964), but I so resonated with your article. I actually had a traumatic accident about 10 months after being part of yet another large downsizing at a once-large communications electronics firm. I fell off a ladder – I don’t know how. I can’t remember a thing, other that coming to, and shouting for help. I then remember waking up in a CTSCAN machine. I broke both scapula, suffered a compression fracture of the T3 vertebrae, and a whiplash concussion. I should have been paralyzed, but God is merciful.
Anyhow, you wrote, “The biggest question for a boomer could be: What do you want to do?” I have fallen back into the familiar, and I continue to seek similar engineering jobs (It’s been almost 4 years now), because that’s all I know. I have lots of interests and hobbies, but none will pay the bills or challenge me they way that I would like. But I don’t want the stress of corporate USA, either. Trying to find someone help me navigate through this mess has been difficult. Please continue the good work on your blog. I just found you. I hope I can contribute and learn from others.
My name is Jennifer, and I have SBS .
Now for the next 11 steps!
Congratulations you have taken the first step. I had not thought of starting a 12 step program for this. GOOD IDEA!!