Vikki is an experienced coach helping female entrepreneurs manage their anxiety & stop procrastinating. Her style of coaching is tough and successful. A no-BS approach blending neuroscience, evolutionary biology, life coaching tools, and tough love that teach people to understand their brain, rewire their thinking - and feel empowered to get things done. Vikki graduated from the London School of Economics and hosts the top-rated podcast F*CK Anxiety & Get Sh*t Done.
You recently had a remote session on Clustered regarding managing anxiety to get more stuff done and the role anxiety had on your own journey. If you had to describe the steps that got you to become a coach and help people to be their best selves, what would they be?
I always wanted to help people. It took me time to find exactly HOW that would be, but once I left finance and moved into personal development everything became clearer. We are never taught how our brains work. Which is WILD, since it is the most powerful tool we have. So many people think there is something wrong with them when they experience negative emotions, or low motivation, or inconsistency. The truth is, it is science - easily explained with a basic understanding of evolutionary biology and brain chemistry. When I began waking up with daily panic attacks, I was shocked at the disempowering misinformation I found online. This directed my focus towards empowering people to master their anxiety & stop procrastinating.
We had the pleasure of participating in your remote session where you talked about stopping looking at having anxiety as a bad thing so you could start managing it and turn it into a driver. Can you tell us more about it?
Anxiety in itself is harmless. When we break down what is actually happening: hormones are released into our body that are designed to allow us to survive imminent death (think lion trying to eat you). Everyone experiences it differently, for me my panic attacks consisted of a shortness of breath, tightness in my chest, heat all over my body and dizziness in my head. I encourage everyone to break down what exactly anxiety is for them. It is not a terrible thing. We can survive it, we already have. The more we resist it, the bigger it becomes (feeding off the belief that there is something wrong with us / something is happening that shouldn’t be happening). Once we stop resisting our anxiety, we can learn to allow it. When you allow ANYTHING you become the authority over it (like allowing a kid to have candy) - staying in that position of authority is SO powerful for managing anxiety and something I teach my clients consistently leading to massive breakthroughs. We do want to be cautious using anxiety as a driver as we don’t NEED anxiety to be driven. Anxiety served its’ use for us at a different time. So often people come to me having spent time delaying deadlines creating unnecessary pressure from a belief that they work best this way. This is NOT what I talk about or teach, but knowing how to allow, embrace and manage it is hugely powerful.
As a coach coming from an entrepreneurial background, do you feel that has come as an advantage for you?
Definitely, firstly because I continue to be an entrepreneur as a coach. Secondly, entrepreneurship is one of the most self exposing journeys you can choose. It brings up ALL your doubt, and insecurities. It is choosing the less safe option. Going against our brain's natural instinct. Being an entrepreneur not only allowed me increased exposure to my own brain, but also to the entrepreneurs I was around. Entrepreneurs, simply put, are already interested in personal development and growth, however that shows up for them, because they are CHOOSING the discomfort and, therefore, the growth.
Another thing we talked about is the part anxiety takes in our lives and our identity - and it can be difficult to let go of that part of us. What is your advice for that?
It depends on your anxiety story, but really I will say that our self concept is formed based on what people told us when we were young and what our brain has spent years, and maybe decades, proving true. If you were told that you were a victim to your anxiety, it can lead to a victim mentality later in life (i.e. everything is someone else’s fault), or if you have been told there is something wrong with you it can be hard to not think that there is something wrong with you… always. I don’t give these examples for people to feel called out, because I know these can be changed. For everyone reading this, think about who you want to become, and be less attached to who you have been or how others have defined you (because of anxiety or otherwise).
Talking about procrastination, one of the things we’ve seen many professionals struggle with is getting stuff done and stop pushing them to a different time. Seems that anxiety gets in the way and harms the ability to set goals, work on them in a time frame set in advance, and provide results that match expectations. What would you suggest professionals do to overcome it?
Having a self awareness allows you to plan for this. Our brain resists planning and thinks it is complicated. Planning creates FREEDOM. Making all your decisions on when you will do things lightens your brain load so you can just spend the week getting things done. Remember, our brains do not want to do all the things on our diary, but that adds more indecision onto our brains, creating more anxiety. You can schedule a one hour buffer every day to cover any anxiety that requires you to step away. I teach my clients to work with anxiety. As I said, it is harmless. It is work we do alongside teaching them how to master it so they can become truly unstoppable. As far as setting goals goes, only set goals you are committed to. Otherwise you will fail and hammer away at your confidence (never useful to an entrepreneur). Our brains resist this and want to do ALL THE THINGS but this is why so many people fail. If you are not 100% committed, take it off the goal list. I get a lot of resistance on this with new clients, until they see their results explode. Imagine how you would show up if you reached every goal you set… what would happen to your confidence? Who you become in this process is more important than the individual goal. I actually spoke about this on the podcast in an episode called “nice to have” is BS that came out last week. Click here to listen.
Some of the ways we’ve found to overcome lack of focus, choosing to take action instead of overthinking and keeping motivation high is working with others to stay accountable. More of a “chosen family” sort of team that a freelancer or entrepreneur can join. On Clustered we have some of these around the topics of mindfulness, accountability groups and leadership programs. Do you have that type of “chosen family” group to support you in your journey?
It is so wonderful to have various people in your life for the various support you need. I am in a Mastermind with other coaches, the best in the business, and we coach each other. It is wonderful. The best accountability person will ALWAYS be yourself. That is one of the skills you gain through coaching. I think everyone should have a coach - it is no surprise leading entrepreneurs, athletes, actors and more work with coaches - I love seeing it become more available for everyone.
It is possible to feel in control while still experiencing anxiety. It is possible to get sh*t done consistently and achieve your goals and more. If you want to learn simple, actionable tools to step into the life you want and create the impact you know you are capable of then be sure to subscribe to the podcast for weekly short episodes giving you simple steps to get there and find out more about Vikki at http://vikkilouise.com/.