Louisa Forrest has faced hardships of a large variety throughout her life, and has come out the other end more capable than ever. Be it financial struggles, problems in your personal life or any difficulty you may be facing, Louisa is proof that you can overcome it!
Name: Louisa Jane Forrest
What is the biggest obstacle you have faced in life & how did it impact you?
There have been a few major obstacles and serious turning points in my short life so far. Most notably in my mid to late twenties, I went bankrupt, lost my first baby, and was evicted from my home within the same month. Shortly after that I had what one would term “a breakdown” and returned to my family home for respite whilst on a Molotov Cocktail of medications. Within 3 months, I fell pregnant again to my now ex husband with our first born daughter… having 2 pregnancies in quick succession after being told I would never be able to do so was indeed surprising - to say the least.
This time was incredibly tumultuous for me. It was also a major turning point in my life. With the imminent arrival of my daughter, I took serious stock of my life and lifestyle. I had lost everything including my home, health and a baby. I knew I could never allow myself to continue living in the same way - I quit smoking, changed my entire diet, quit caffeine, sugar, wheat and dairy and adopted a “Clean and Green” lifestyle. I live that same way now.
Probably the next biggest obstacle was facing facts within my marriage - realising that it was not only toxic but also abusive.I packed up my 3 year old daughter and meagre belongings, whilst I was 11 weeks pregnant with my now 2 year old son and I left my husband 3 years ago last Easter. I returned to our marital home and remain there. There is no monetary or physical support from my ex husband for myself or the children bar access visits each week or two.
I also have no family up here and a very small network of friends. I operate the business I started with my husband 6 years ago, with my son coming to to work with me each day. Fortunately, I can work in and around school drop off and pick up for my 6 year old daughter who is in Grade 1.
My divorce taught me to trust my instincts, to ensure that my boundaries remain high and that my standards are even higher, and to manage my money with careful scrutiny. These were very hard won lessons but lessons that I am grateful to have learnt nonetheless.
My divorce, bankruptcy, eviction, and loss of my first baby has literally changed who I am entirely as a person. I have grown a great deal and become stronger than I ever thought was humanly possible to be. I live with great stress and pressure on me each day now and cope quite well under the circumstances to the point where I'm interviewed for advice on how to do so. I'm very grateful for how much I've been taught by my lessons from the universe.
What would you say are your greatest achievements in life thus far?
Clearly, my two children take precedent as being the greatest thing that I have good fortune to be blessed with.Possibly second in line would be a business that is about to turn 6 years old that is trading well, making money, and growing very quickly with 5 new locations having opened in the last 12 months.
Again this success has been hard earned and hard won, but I would not change any of the journey.
How did you work through your struggles to achieve the success you have today?
One thing that makes me different from most people, is that I have an eternal spirit of resilience. I genuinely know down to the very bones of my body and the very bottom of my soul that there is always a solution to every challenge, and there is always a Silver Lining to every obstacle. Through practice, and increasing self awareness, I know I can enact change in any area of my life, on any day or in any moment that I wish to. That knowledge is extremely empowering and ensures that I do not need to “play the victim”.
I see my life as one of my own making and creation and if I don't like an element of it then I set to work to change that straight away. The work I have done is to simply persevere even though it looked absolutely hopeless and situations frequently were so desperate we would have to live off less than $20 of groceries for a fortnight.
I simply refused to quit. I also learnt very quickly that if I could back myself into a corner ensuring I have no exits, that I will always rise to the occasion and come up with something brilliant to pull us out of a challenging situation.
Again that knowledge is very empowering and means that I never feel beaten by life for very long. These days, instead of curling into a ball sobbing, I just seem to get up, saddle up, rally and get on with it.
What is one tip you have for keeping motivated?
Continually investing in myself, re-educating and upskilling is key to my motivation. I'm a very self driven person anyway, however I make it a priority to continually learn new things and continually up-skill. I am always filling my brain with new knowledge.
I also avoid the news and media and steer clear of anything toxic or negative.
Who is someone that helped you on your journey from struggle to success?
I have been very fortunate to have made some wonderful connections with some very intelligent, high integrity people who genuinely want the best for me. There are a couple that come to mind who have backed me when no one else was willing to or able to.
Two specifically would be a friend and mentor by the name of Thomas Reid, who is the founder of the Young Entrepreneur Society. Another would be my flatmate from when I was living in Sydney in my twenties, who witnessed my break down and bankruptcy.
We are still very great friends to this day - he is like a brother to me. I know that without the support, constant encouragement and kindness from these two people specifically - and many others too numerous to name - life would have beaten me for sure. I would have certainly given up long before this point had they not cheered me on.
What qualities do you think are essential in a person in order to be successful?
I certainly believe that successful people need to have a deep reservoir of resilience available to them. Success is not easy in any way, shape or form - it’s unusual and often found at the end of the road less travelled.
If you do not have the capacity to continually pick yourself up and move forward, you simply won't get to where you want to go. I am well known for my tenacity and resilience and I know that without both those traits in spades I would be walking a very different path. I also believe that the development of a thick skin is necessary… however this is something that for me is a work in progress. I am very sensitive and struggle with negativity and criticism.
The ability to be a good and strong communicator I think is also essential.
I've spent a great deal of time and money on developing and strengthening my communication skills, learning to become more diplomatic, learning to read people on a deeper level and meet their needs as best I can.
I put a lot of effort into communication whilst aiming for the win / win / win outcome for all. This takes time and is a slower approach however I think it pays significant dividends for everyone.
Do you think there are benefits to going through hardships before achieving your goals?
Yes I do believe that there benefits to going through hardships first. I firmly believe one must earn the right to success before having it. I have known many people who were born into privilege, with much more opportunity and wealth available to them than most. In terms of how this has served them as people, I don't believe that it really has.
In my experience they appear to be less resourceful, less resilient, less self-reliant and certainly in the end they often became unable to sustain themselves or any successes in the long term.
The ideal scenario would be being born into privilege, with great opportunity available AND born with an innate desire to take what they have, run with it and achieve more with it rather than resting on their laurels. What an ideal setup!
My life has been exceedingly difficult at times but lessons I have learnt and the knowledge and wisdom I have attained as a result I would not exchange for all the money, privilege and opportunity in the world.
What are some plans and goals you have for the future?
I plan to expand my business into every capital city and regional centre in Australia by 2020. I also have had plans to live in France three months of the year with my children and experience the world from a different vantage point.
I also plan to write books of my own, and to one day get back into professional speaking on some level. I enjoy sharing what I know and have learnt and helping people through their own challenges.
Lastly, what is one piece of advice you have for others to overcome difficulty and achieve success?
The one thing that I always remember even when things look bleaker than ever before, is that it does pass eventually and that there is always a solution available. Sometimes you really, really need to dig for it and other times it becomes apparent very quickly.
I have learnt over the years that when I am really stuck on a problem and I cannot figure out a way around, up over, under or through it that I need to walk away, have a good night's sleep and come back to it in the morning.
Sometimes just taking space and detaching from an issue is all that is needed for your mind and body to come up with a solution that you otherwise would not be able to see.
I just remind myself that there is always a solution available to you no matter how bleak or hopeless the circumstances - because its true!
So there you have it - a fantastic example of how you can take life into your own hands and make of it what you will. Hopefully you enjoyed Louisa’s story and it has somehow inspired you!