How often do you get hit by anxiety? In this episode, I talk to Vikki Louise, a life coach that after dealing with constant panic attacks, had to teach herself how to overcome anxiety and take charge of her life. Vikki not only learned to overcome her anxiety but also decided to make it the focus of her life: teaching others that it is way better to feel powerful with it instead of powerless to it.
Vikki’s style of coaching is not just super effective, but also very well researched. It blends neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and life coaching tools that help people to rewire their thinking to get the results they want, empowering them to use the instruments and get things done.
Get to know more details about Vikki’s journey, her strategies to combat procrastination and learn all the insights you need to start breaking those unhealthy habits by listening to this episode of Hustle with purpose.
Vikki graduated from the London School of Economics and worked for finance and tech companies across London and NYC, before turning her personal development hobby into a successful career as an Anxiety & Procrastination Coach. Her style of coaching is tough and successful, it is a no BS approach. It is a blend of neuroscience, evolutionary biology, life coaching tools and tough love that teach people to understand their brain, learn tools on how to rewire their thinking to get results they want – and empower people to actually use the tools and get it done! Vikki certified at The Life Coach School in the United States, and now hosts the F*CK Anxiety & Get Sh*t Done podcast available on iTunes.
You can learn more about Vikki at www.vikkilouise.com
Follow Vikki on Instagram at vikkilouise_
Listen to the F*ck Anxiety & Get Sh*t Done Podcast
Jacinta Gandy is passionate about small business and a champion of women’s entrepreneurship. She’s the founder of Social Circle, a branding and marketing agency that helps service based solopreneurs turn their passions into profitable businesses.
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Welcome to Hustle with Purpose, the show that encourages us to leave the busy life behind and focus our time and energy on the things that fuel our passion and align with our purpose. I’m your host Jacinta Gandy, let’s get to it.
My guest on today’s show is anxiety expert and certified life coach Vicki Louise. Vicky teaches others how to live their best life by overcoming anxiety and getting shit done. Welcome to the show, Vicky.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here.
Yes, I’m super excited you’re here particularly because of what you do. I mean, we kind of met each other on Instagram and I feel like anxiety is just such an important topic, particularly when you know you’re trying to start your own business or you’re trying to make changes or do something different in your life. It’s something that we see show up more and more. So I feel like this episode is going to be really, really relevant to a lot of our listeners and I’m so happy you were able to join today.
Thank you. So happy to be here.
Yes, I mean, so just to get things started, I always find it interesting to learn about people’s backgrounds and sort of what led them, you know, to the career that they’re on now. So yeah, if you can just start by sharing a little bit more about yourself with our listeners, that would be great.
Sounds good. So I started out in economics. I was an economist that went into finance and investment and then worked a little bit in tech and actually ended up launching my own startup. And a few months in I was waking up every morning with panic attacks. I didn’t even know what they were cause there’s so much misinformation online. Don’t Google things! And so I already, had a business as a life coach and I was building that business on the side. And I started applying some of the tools to myself and just really learning how overcome anxiety and manage it without medication. Not that medication is wrong. But I was just curious. And as I went through the process, I decided to focus on teaching people how to overcome their anxiety. How to manage it so they can feel powerful with it instead of powerless to it. And that connection between anxiety and procrastination. And why we’re not getting done what we say we’re going to do and how to stop that self-judgment spiral, so many people find themselves in of I’m saying I’m doing something, I’m not doing it. There’s something wrong with me, I’m lazy. Instead looking into the science behind it and teaching people how to control it.
Yeah, I mean, and it’s such a great topic. Um, that’s a very interesting transition now. You studied economics and finance and then you were kind of building a life coach business on the side. Was that always a passion for you or did you just kind of fall into it based on what you were experiencing at the time?
Yeah, so I mean, I guess personal growth, self development, self-help, all of these areas were always an interest and a hobby. And to be honest, if I’d have really known about these careers when I was younger and making choices, maybe I would’ve done it sooner. And saying that I think that path that played out and all the different experiences I had have been amazing. So I wouldn’t change anything. Initially it was just a hobby, something that I was doing for enjoyment and then it grew into, “…wait this work has changed my life. I need to tell everyone about this. I’m going to do this all in”.
Wow. That’s very cool. So let’s get to it because it’s such a hot topic and a topic that I’m definitely curious to know more about. My experience has been over the years, and I’m sure a lot of people can relate. I would consider myself a serial procrastinator. I know what I need to do, but sometimes getting it done just seems to be something that I like to procrastinate. I feel like a lot of people that say, I do my best work when I’m up against a really tough deadline. So like I’d love to talk more about the psychology behind procrastination. As an anxiety coach, you have really found that the two of them are heavily linked. So I’d love to explore that a little bit more.
Sure. First thing I want to tell you and your listeners is when we decide to put something off that we said we were going to do, we truly get a dopamine hit. Like that’s literally the chemical reaction in our brain. So it’s instantly rewarding. That’s what we’re up against when we’re making this decision.
Wow, that is crazy.
You’re like, it feels so good. I’m going to keep doing it. And then we’re teaching our brain to look for that reward, which is to put things off.
Wow. I mean that’s incredible. And that, that makes a lot of sense. Right? Love procrastinating. Right.
I love it. Yes. Completely. And as you said, you know, calling yourself a serial procrastinator, everything that we do is habits. Our brain loves habits because it loves to minimize the effort that we use because it’s always looking to store energy. Just in case we come across a predator, the ones to eat us and we need to run because our brains are built for survival in the wild. So once we do something, once we get that dopamine, we’ve got two sides of things. One, obviously our brain liking the dopamine and searching for more of it and two, the habits coming in where it’s like, “oh, this is what we do”. We say we’re going to do some thing. Then we delay it and then we do it last minute. You said something that I hear all the time, which is I work best under pressure. I work best the last minute. That’s when I get my best work done, which is complete and utter bullsh*t. And I can say that because I used to think that too. I used to be one of those people and I got away with it. Most of us that think that in our adulthood, got away with it when we were younger, maybe at college, maybe in fist jobs, maybe in school, but we would still perform when we left things until the last minute.
Yeah. But it’s also like a vicious cycle because, I mean, I know it’s like you said, our brain is getting this dopamine hit, but then it’s almost like because we’re procrastinating, we’re creating all this anxiety right around this task now?
Yep. Because we have more time to think about it and think about what could go wrong and what other people are gonna think and all, you know, our anxiety is essentially alerting us to any potential dangers and potential threats. So we have that time to create all these stories and it’s like a cycle. The anxiety feeds the procrastination, the procrastination feeds the anxiety and so on and so on. So it just escalates bigger and bigger.
Wow. Yeah. I mean, that sounds painfully familiar.
I know it’s honestly, it’s all of us. I think, you know, there’s a stat it says one in five Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder. But really every one of us experiences anxiety on some level or another.
Right? Yeah. So how do you, you know, for someone like me who is a serial procrastinator, like what are some of the strategies that you recommend to kind of, you know, like you said, it’s a habit. So how do you stop that habit or maybe disrupt it and try to think of new patterns?
So the first thing that I would do is stop calling yourself a serial procrastinator. It’s like giving yourself permission to continue to do it. It implies that it’s outside of your power. It’s just who you are and it’s quite disempowering. So I know we’re joking here and it’s funny, but if, if I was working with someone that came to me and said that, I would immediately stop them from describing themselves that way and start changing that story. Sometimes I procrastinate and sometimes I don’t. And really focusing there because there’s plenty of things that you do that you don’t procrastinate on. You know, you’re not a procrastinator by personality traits. It’s not how it works. So really we would start by building evidence on purpose of you doing things when you say you are going to do them.
And understanding the different thoughts that create tprocrastination. For example, what makes you look forward to things? What happens when you are confident you can do something versus when you are not confident that you can do it? What happens when you are doing something that’s going be viewed by many people? Do you see what I mean? There’s 70 different thoughts and factors that create it. So I would get to work by exploring why you are procrastinating, what type of tasks you are procrastinating on and all of that. Now some general tools for when you want to start building the belief that you get things done when you say you will is to start very small. Start really simply. So one of the things I did in January with my list was we did a seven day goal. That was all they had to do is commit to doing something consistently for seven days. Now in February I’m doing a five minute goal, but every day for the first seven days, they just need to show up for that five minutes. Now we think we need to make this big dramatic change in order to, you know, banish this procrastination and overcome anxiety and it’s just not true. And when we go for this big dramatic change, we start and stop or we fail. We feed the belief that we procrastinate and we don’t get sh*t done.
That’s so valid. Um, because as I was listening to you talk, I was thinking about the types of tasks that I procrastinate. Whenever I feel like it’s a very big task, those are always the ones I procrastinate on. Which is kind of ironic because you’d think if I thought something was going to be a big task that I’d want to start tackling it or chipping away at it. But instead I’m just like, Oh, that’s going to be a huge task. So like there’s some dread associated with that and so I immediately start to procrastinate that task.
Totally. That’s exactly what’s happening. You are thinking this is a huge task. Anyone thinking this is a huge task about anything is going to end up feeling some form of overwhelm. When we are overwhelmed, we stop working. So simple.
Yeah, that is so valid. Yeah. Okay, so that’s great. So with these challenges, I like that you’re saying like break everything down into small achievable goals. So like you say you’re doing this challenge that’s more about showing up for five minutes every day. Talk to me a little bit.
Basically the concept is what we are trying to create time. We want to create a change in our lives. Maybe it’s going to the gym, maybe it’s waking up earlier, maybe it’s cooking a healthy breakfast. Maybe it’s spending more time with family or loved ones or dating, whatever it might be. And we tell ourselves that we don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough time to go to the gym because what we’re thinking is I need to find, you know, four hours a week to do it. So we’re just not doing any exercise. This is really, really common. And the idea is creating time out of your diary, out of your schedule, like five minutes at a time. So initially I get people to take five minutes out, switch all of their technology off and sit still for five minutes.
Because when you are doing nothing, five minutes is a long time. And the idea being that we can put aside 5, 10, or 15 minutes a day. And if we can build 15 minutes out of our schedule each week, which isn’t that difficult to do, we can use that 15 minutes to do the workout, to do some yoga, some stretching, some journaling to go out and get fresh air, to do a meal plan or cook something healthy. And once you’ve done that, you can build from there. Last week I got an opportunity where I had to suddenly find 20 hours in my week. I didn’t have to, but I had an opportunity that I wanted to take that required it.
In order to find 20 hours, I will not overwork. I will take days off. I won’t work 60 hour weeks or anything like that. So I have to make decisions about how to do that. And I was able to do it. That’s the skill of creating time on purpose for what you want instead of listening to the excuses. Because our brain, thanks to anxiety and evolution and all of its functions that kept us alive in the wild. Our brain likes to keep doing what we’ve always done. So breaking a habit and creating more time isn’t always super comfortable. So we need to ease into it, make it easy to succeed.
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. And you know, as part of one of my daily habits, I recently incorporated a five minute meditation and I completely agree with you. Like you don’t realize how long five minutes can be until you’re sitting there and you’re doing nothing and all of a sudden you’re like, wow, this feels like an eternity.
Yeah, and we’re so quick to shut that off. When I was working in finance, I would go to the gym at lunch time and people would say, well, there’s no point because you know you can’t get a full hour workout. But if I was going 20 minutes to the gym five days a week and I was getting more of a workout than not. Our brain is like, oh, we have to do an hour. We think we have to have these big dramatic goals. Now obviously once you start going to the gym for 20 minutes regularly, you can start using that time more efficiently. Eventually, you’re more incentivized to go a bit longer and work harder. It will eventually start to become a priority. If you would have told me in the beginning, I have to wake up two hours earlier in the morning to go to the gym, I would’ve said no. However once working out became a priority, I was waking up earlier to go to the gym because I enjoyed spin class – but I never started there.
Right. Yeah, that’s really, really important. So let’s talk a little bit about entrepreneurship and anxiety cause I feel like these two are heavily linked. And I started my business probably a little over three years ago now. And like you, I have a similar background. I spent a lot of time in corporate and when I went to started my business, I had a very pragmatic approach. I was like, okay, I’m just going to have to create a website, do all the legal stuff? Like you know, I’m literally just like, it’s going to be really easy. But then, as I’m sure you can relate, all of a sudden I started to encounter all of this resistance around things that I needed to do in my business that were really uncomfortable. And then even when I was able to accomplish those things, like for example, public speaking, there was a ton of anxiety that went along with it. And you know, those feelings kind of set me on this journey of personal development and getting more comfortable and confident with where I was, which you know, ultimately has allowed me to continue to pursue my business.
Yeah. Like the main thing with anxiety is we have the chemical reaction, then we have our thoughts about it and then we have our brain interpreting anxiety as a signal that we’re going to die or that we’re in a life threatening situation. And what happens when we do scary things and we bring our anxiety along with us is we are teaching our brain that we can survive anxiety. We’re teaching our brain that it doesn’t mean a life or death situation anymore. So it’s completely normal that as you go into more exposing experiences and entrepreneurship is one of the most exposing experiences in terms of self-awareness and insecurity and all of this stuff. Then we are teaching our brain, you know, that we can get stronger and start to overcome anxiety. You speak about public speaking, and I love the example because it’s so common for so many of us.
And in my own story, I also had an experience of public speaking and feeling the anxiety and the heat rising and my heart pounding. And for me that was one of the moments where the penny dropped and I was about to speak. All of my anxiety was coming up. I wanted to go to that place of, Oh, why is this happening? This isn’t working. I don’t need this right now. This isn’t going to help me. But I had like 30 seconds. So walking on the stage, I decided instead of fighting it, I would just allow it and just let it be that. And I recognize that this is my body and my brain trying to keep me alive. And I told myself it was like a superpower because of how intense it was and instead of resisting it. I let it be that, and I remember the exact moment on that stage and suddenly feeling powerful with it instead of powerless to it. And I always joke around my house that I really felt like Beyonce. I feel like the exact thing that can cause us to retreat and to think there’s something wrong with us is the exact thing that can give us the power to up level and create the next vision of us if we let it, if we allow it, and if we become the master of it.
Yeah, I love that. So you’re just like taking that nervousness and almost like channeling it into excitement, right?
Yeah. Just like the energy is such an energy in your body. If anyone’s listening is experiencing intense anxiety, like you’re very aware of everything that’s going on in your body, you’re feeling your body, you know? So often in life we’re kind of numb to what’s going on in our body. We’re just continuing in our routine. We’re just walking places or just eating something. And in this intense experience, we are so connected to what’s happening in our body because it’s such a powerful experience. It’s such a powerful vibration that’s going on.
Totally. So on your website, you talk about how you love relocating and you describe it as like a shortcut to personal development.
I actually get a lot of flack for that. So I say, yeah, on my website, relocating and entrepreneurship in my mind are the two laziest ways to self development. And what I mean by that is they’re not lazy. It’s hard. But you cannot stay still when you are relocating or you are taking a step into entrepreneurship. It forces you to make active decisions about your life. Nothing is comfortable, nothing is laid out. There’s no foundation like as you know in your own entrepreneurial experience you are suddenly making every decision you are doing all the things. You can’t sit back in the corner and hope someone else will figure it out. And for relocating it’s the same socially, right? Like socially you have to make active choices to go out to places to introduce yourself to people to face potential rejection.
So the growth that you do in my experience having done both those steps I took without knowing was so self exposing and in my experience they created a lot rapid growth and that’s why I call it the lazy way to self development. It’s like a sink or swim method. You can’t float through. You’re making life decisions. Same thing with being an entrepreneur. Maybe it’s different now with online, I don’t know. In my experience you are making active choices. You are taking full responsibility for the outcomes that you have. Be it or social or romantic.
Yeah, I think it’s completely true because there are certain personalities that will just completely avoid that. Right? Because it is such a self exposing experience, right? Just moving somewhere where maybe you don’t know anyone and you have to start all over again or you know taking the leap into entrepreneurship. I mean I do think that when it comes to business, I guess you can kind of, if you want to avoid something you can, but if you’re very committed to being successful, then you’re ultimately going to embrace things that feel big and scary and bring up feelings of anxiety for you.
Yeah, exactly. I think it’s like stepping into the fire.
Definitely. Well thank you so much for being on the show today. Vicki. I completely enjoyed talking to you. So before we sign off, can you tell our listeners where they can find out more about you?
Yeah, totally. And of course, thank you so much for having me. It’s been so fun. Um, so you can check out my podcast, which is F*ck Anxiety and Get Sh*t Done, but it’s spelled the polite way, which is F, asterix, C, K and S, H, asterix T. I also have a free f*ck anxiety guide. That’s probably enough. I won’t overwhelm them with 10 different ways to keep in touch. So those are the two best ways. The podcast and the freebie will add you to my mailing list where you can get links to my Instagram and Facebook.
Awesome. Thank you again for joining.
Thanks so much for having me. Take care.
Thanks for listening to Hustle With Purpose. For more information on today’s show, check out the show notes and don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher radio.
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