So many of us get caught up in careers where we’re focused on the tasks and type of work that we’re good at. And at face value, that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, right?

Unfortunately, it can be debilitating. These tasks, which use our “burnout skills” (a coin termed by Richard Knowdell) are in fact the reason many people are feeling unfilled by their work. They are the skills that we are competent at using, but don’t enjoy using.

By making a shift to using your “motivated skills”, the skills you’re competent at using and also enjoy using, you can make massive in-roads in terms of increasing your career fulfilment and overall happiness. In this episode, I’m explaining why just because you “can” do something, it doesn’t mean you should. Especially if you’re on the path of seeking greater job satisfaction.

Links I mentioned in this episode:

13. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should – Transcript

[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.

[00:00:29] Hello hello. It’s Bec McFarland here helping you do better and be better in your career. And today, we are talking about just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. In the last episode, I talked to you about a test called motivated skills created by a fellow called Richard Nodell that I [00:01:00]ask most of my career coaching clients to complete.

[00:01:03] And of course, as we discussed your motivated skills or otherwise known as your transferrable skills are found when we look at the crossover point between the skills that you really, really enjoy using and then the skills that you are really, really good at using. Today, I wanted to talk to you about another element that this test uncovers, and I find this to be one of the most interesting and helpful parts of this test, because what it shows you is the skills that you are really good at using, but that you absolutely hate using.

[00:01:43] Now Richard, the creator of the test, calls them your burnout skills. And I reckon that he’s pretty spot on. When I think about these skills, I think about the fact that yeah, like we’re so conditioned to do those things that we are [00:02:00] really good at. You know, we find the things that we are really good at and we latch onto them.

[00:02:06] But often what we find is that it leads us to a lot of unfulfillment. When I’m explaining this test and the burnout skills to my clients, what I always say to them is this: with your burnout skills, you could do those skills or utilize those skills every single day for the rest of your career and throughout your career, you probably get quite good marks on your performance review. And your bosses would probably give you a lovely pat on the head and tell you that you’ve done a great job, which is wonderful, right?

[00:02:42] Except for the fact that you would pretty much go home every day, hating your job and often hating your life. You can see what I’m getting at, right? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

[00:02:57] So with looking at the results [00:03:00] of this test, what we are really looking to identify is those skills that we get sucked into completing. We have demonstrated in the workplace that we can do them, it comes naturally to us, it’s easy, it’s no big deal. But what we often don’t communicate is how soul sucking, completing those tasks actually is.

[00:03:21] And honestly, for a lot of the clients that I work with, it really is that like, until they do that test, they don’t actually realize. So I have had clients that have come to me who have said to me, you know, like,’ I absolutely just hate my job, like, and I don’t understand why’, and it’s not until really unpacking some of this stuff that they’re like, ‘oh, Yeah. Okay. That makes a hell of a lot of sense’.

[00:03:50] To give you an example, one of the clients that I’m working with at the moment is very, very extroverted. He is an extreme [00:04:00] relationship builder. However, he’s been working in the finance industry, his whole career working as an accountant, and he was, you know, don’t quite understand why it’s never really lit me up, why I’ve never really, really fit in.

[00:04:17] And so we are able to look at this test, look at the test results and go ‘yeah, okay, dude, like, just because of the fact that you’ve got good numerical skills and you know, you are traditionally good at accounting and finance work, it really doesn’t mean that that’s what you’re cut out for’. And so fortunately for him, he’s made a career change. He’s very happy. And this new awareness that he has really means that he can be a little bit more discerning about future career paths and the types of roles that he takes in the future.

[00:04:53] Now, similarly, I had another client who I was working with who was also extremely [00:05:00] extroverted. And she had been working as a software developer for 20 years. So naturally her personality and behavioural preferences were leaning towards building relationships and working with other humans and collaborating and, you know, managing change and things like that. And yet instead, she’d literally spent 20 years sitting in front of a computer screen on her own, working on incredibly detailed work, which as it showed in her test, was something that she was extremely capable of doing, but something that really really made her go home from work, feeling unfulfilled. You know, she did come to me and was like ‘Bec, why do I hate my life? ‘And I’m like, ah, it’s written. It’s written in the test results.

[00:05:55] So I really find that understanding [00:06:00] your own burnout skills and what this actually means can help you to, as I said, just be more discerning and mean that you’re not setting yourself up for a career of unfulfillment. So once you’ve got these test results and you can see, or once you’ve been able to even unpack it, you know, if you don’t want to do the test, you can go ahead and learn through journaling or through other exercises that will help you to reflect and introspect and think about some of those tasks that you’ve done throughout your career.

[00:06:32] But I guess once you’ve got that information, it does provide you with a little bit of a blueprint and more of an idea about some of the questions that you could be asking about jobs that you’re applying for in the future.

[00:06:45] So when I’m looking at a position description for a client, perhaps they’ve brought that position description to me and they’re like, ‘You know, I’m thinking about applying for this job’. What I would be doing is having a look at the duties list and having a look [00:07:00] at the selection criteria and really making sure that that particular position is more focused on doing the motivated skills than it is focused on spending time in those burnout skills.

[00:07:13] Because again, when you are so used to working in that burnout zone, or you are so used to just focusing on the skills that you are good at using when you are embracing your strengths, you know, we can get ourselves caught up in all kinds of pickles. And, uh, this is honestly one of the ways that I find that people are feeling mostly unfulfilled by the work that they do.

[00:07:42] I hope that you enjoyed this little chat that we’ve had today about your burnout skills and that it started to get you to think about what some of your burnout skills might be? You know, what are those things that you’re really good at, but that you hate? Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

[00:07:59] Have a [00:08:00] beautiful week, take care and I look forward to catching up with you next week. See you later.

[00:08:06] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s tips and that you found value in what I’ve shared with you. If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. Also leave me a rating and a review. If you wanna continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll see you soon.

[00:08:32] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting so much clearer about your next steps. Find it at

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About the author 


Bec McFarland is an experienced HR practitioner, manager, career coach and the creator of Pop Your Career. She delights in sharing practical, straight to the point career advice, spending time with her family and eating Mexican food.