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August 1, 2021

Career Twisties and What To Do About Them

Olympic and World Gymnastics Champion Simone Biles withdrew from several events at the 2020 Summer Olympics because of a case of “the twisties.”  

When I Googled “the twisties” (essentially when a gymnast can’t tell up from down while in midair), they sounded hauntingly familiar to me. “The twisties,” as it turns out, are the perfect metaphor for a career crisis.  

HOW TO RECOVER FROM A CAREER CRISIS

The cure for both the twisties and a career crisis is the same, time to reconnect your mind and body 

My career crisis began with me abruptly leaving my successful nonprofit career after realizing I was burned out and bored. I then stumbled and tumbled my way through three years of 

(a).launching a not-so-well-thought out business

(b).proving I was still a badass by joining a roller derby team (without knowing how to skate),

Photo by Designs by Ryder

  

(c). trying out all the tricks and tips on social media to make myself look like anything other than what I felt like—a lost midlife highly educated neophile with no clue of how and when I would land upright on my own two feet.  

THE NEUROSCIENCE BEHIND CRISIS AND RECOVERY

 According to Robert Andrews, a sports-performance consultant who worked with Simone Biles, one way to work with athletes suffering from “the twisties” is to “teach them how to listen to their bodies’ warning signs that they are heading down the wrong path.”

In career coaching, I do something similar—I help you listen to what your mind and body are telling you so you can make decisions and take actions in alignment with your values, vision and life purpose. 

When you find yourself turned upside down in your career, when what you believed doesn’t feel true anymore, it’s important not to panic and make fear-based decisions that might lead you down the wrong path.

Instead, slow down and “listen” for what feels right. 

The neurons that relay information from our body to our brain are slower than the neurons that move from the brain to the body.

For more on the connection between brain and body listen to this interview with master neuroscience coach, Amanda Blake. 

HOW TO DO IT

Slowing down to listen to what your body is telling you is most effective when done with a coach or therapist trained in somatic practices.

If that’s not an option for you, try journaling about what you are feeling. Write for 10 minutes without stopping. 

Then go back and pay attention to the words or phrases that evoke a sensation in your body–like butterflies in your stomach or a lump in your throat. 

Strong sensations are your body’s way of telling you that you have hit upon something that needs your attention.  

For example, if you journal about what is important about the next 20 years of your life and the words that evoke strong positive sensations are travel, freedom and exploration and you feel nothing or feel negative sensations from words like money, car and big house, what do you suppose your body is telling you? 

You can’t think your way out of a case of the midlife “twisties.” Just like a gymnast who has trained her body for years to do complicated moves without thinking about them, your body has trained for decades to know how to make you happy. You simply need to learn how to listen to it.

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