Our Story: Iris Wang, co-founder of I Create Positivity Magazine

IrisBorn into a humble family, Iris Wang started investing in property at the age of 20, as well as being fortunate enough to work closely with many well known property investment and finance companies, on top of running her own business in Queensland. Life was on the up from 2001 to 2007.

Her goal was to one day build enough wealth to get her family out of the rat race. This all came crashing down in 2009 when a combination of issues: relationship failures, the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and mental illness all hit her at once.

With the support of her friends and family, Iris has rebuilt her life in 5 years and is now dedicating her life to helping others do the same.

What was life like before you almost lost everything?

My parents moved to Australia (from China) in their early 30’s to rebuild their lives from the ground up. They worked really hard. They sacrificed everything for the family and saved every cent there was to buy a house and send us to school. At the age of 20 when I got my first proper full-time job, I was determined to work hard, invest in my knowledge, learn what successful people do and grow my wealth so that I could repay them one day. And boy did I work hard! For the first 5 years of my career, I worked my butt off, 10 to 12 hours on weekdays and on every second weekend, I’d be out there attending seminars to extend my knowledge, network with like minded people and pick their brains like there was no tomorrow. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollar on finance/investment/personal development courses and books and CD’s. I went from being a receptionist at a small start-up to working in all areas of that business to eventually becoming a qualified financial consultant.

Everyone I spoke to would have said that if they hadn’t met me in person, they would’ve thought I was in my mid 30’s. My customers ranged from first time home buyers to investors who have property portfolios so large that most people couldn’t fathom it.

I was proud of my achievements but I knew that I still had a long way to go and I knew my goal was far beyond my reach at the time. That motivation kept me waking up every morning. It was tiring but I felt good about where I was going and what I was achieving.

What happened?

Some people call it bad luck. I call it bad planning, lack of experience and self confidence. But the earlier part of my story sounded like I had a lot of confidence, right? No… I struggled with that big time since I started my first job. It was a struggle when I had no role models or mentors to help me get by, especially with the emotional stuff. I was literally stabbing in the dark to find my way and I made a lot of mistakes. If I were to write a book about all my mistakes today, it would probably be an encyclopaedia!

In 2008 I went through an early mid-life crisis in the middle of the GFC. I walked away from a long term relationship that had become aggressive. It had taken me 6 years to realise that we were never meant for each other. Our personalities clashed and little did I realise at the time that all the personal development courses I had done over the years had matured my mindset far beyond his, and we were moving further and further apart. I stayed in the relationship out of fear of what people would think of me and the fear that I wouldn’t be able to find anyone better if I left.

I still remember clearly the day when I had the light bulb moment, when a small argument turned verbally abusive. It was a turning point that gave me the strength to move forward with my life.The impact of the GFC, the pressures of the business and my personal life finally hit me. Right after my separation, I went through an identity crisis and my mind slipped into a very dark place. I felt like all my goals, dreams and plans had shattered into little pieces and I didn’t know how to piece them back together.

Due to this, I left the business I co-founded and moved back home. That wasn’t the end of it, not only did I have to deal with the problems at the time and my emotional rollercoaster ride, I had to put up with my family’s criticism and the added pressure of being an unmarried, 30 year old Chinese woman. I was exhausted mentally and physically.

At times when the pressure eased up a bit and I feel like I was on top of my emotions and are ready to tackle your challenges again, the slightest increase in difficulties or disappointments would trigger anxiety and physical memories of how terrible and painful things were, sending me right down to my pit again. This rollercoaster ride of emotions is often what keeps many at one place, unable to recover or move forward.

How did you get through this?

Growing up as a gymnast from the age of 3, and training as a tennis player since the age of 10 has helped me develop a never give up attitude. I refused to take any medication because I never believed in it, deep down I knew there had to be a way to crawl out of this hole and I will find it regardless of how difficult it may be. Four years later, the help of friends, family, every expert/healer I met along the way, and my own resilience has helped me to recover and rebuild my life.

At first, I tried to find every way possible to go back to where I was before, emotionally, financially, physically, the whole lot. Most people don’t realise that when you make $1 and then lose 50% of it, you actually have to work 100% more to get that $1 back.

Imagine climbing halfway up a hill, you’re tired because you have spent quite a bit of your energy. Then suddenly, you fall and tumble back down to square one. So to re-climb the hill and get back to where you were, you have to work even harder than before, because you are injured and already exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. This was how I felt at the time.

During my challenging times, I had literally no-one to talk to and you could only get help from counsellers or phychologists and I didn’t believe that was the solution I need. I knew there had to be another way, I’d tell myself repeatedly that there are others that are much worse off than me, and that I should be grateful to be alive because I’m in a better position than most people in the world.

I also knew there had to be others who are going through the same thing as I did, so I started searching, meeting one person at the time. I started reaching out to kindred souls, hearing their stories and sharing mine. I read inspirational books, listened to CD’s, talked to family and friends, I took up Latin dancing as a hobby and bit by bit, I rebuilt my self-esteem and my life.

I have to dedicate a lot of my success to my brother who was there for me the whole time. He cared deeply for me and acted as my communicator to my parents. He listened without judgement and communicated my thoughts and feelings to my family which helped us understand each other.

What, or who was your inspiration or motivation to get through your crisis?

My family was my biggest inspiration, I don’t want to put them through this again, and I will do whatever I can to be better, stronger and wiser each day.

Another motivation was the knowledge that there are many others out there who are going through similar situations, and I want to be able to reach out to those people through my own story, my successes and failures.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given by another person?

My uncle (mum’s younger brother),. he was a very successful businessman in China and we share similar mindsets, so I always enjoy talking to him. He came to Australia to visit us from China several years back and after hearing a bit about what happened to me from mum, he said, in front of everyone, (in Chinese, obviously): ‘If Iris has succeed before, she can do it again!”

That comment has stayed with me, and whenever I doubt my ability to deliver, I will always affirm myself with my uncle’s comment.

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