Rachel East and her business partner, Kristen Walker, are co-founders of Clarity on Fire, a life and career-coaching site for millennials that provides clarity and inspiration to people who know what they don’t want in work and in life, but have no idea what they’d rather be doing.
They are also the creators of The Passion Profile Quiz, a free online resource which has helped more than 200,000 people pinpoint the intersection between their passion and career. They’ve been featured online at major outlets like TIME, Fast Company, Business Insider, and Forbes for their expertise on millennials and their proven ability to help people create a passionate career and life.
Their blog posts are inspiring and offer great advice for figuring out if your job is causing specific issues in your life or if maybe you’re simply burnt out. Between their encouraging emails, The Passion Profile Quiz, and their awesome coaching style, they help people tap into their courage and get unstuck, creating a fulfilled life defined by their own rules.
We spoke with the always inspiring Rachel, this week’s Woman Crush Wednesday, about all things career, love, and bouncing back!
What do you do and why do you do it?
I’m a life & career coach for millennials who know what they don’t want, but have no idea what they’d rather be doing with their lives. I do what I do because there is an overwhelming epidemic of people who are unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and questioning “the point.” We are not meant to live that way. Feeling passionate, inspired, and fulfilled is something that’s 100% attainable, but often not easily found on your own. I’m here to show you (and guide you toward) what else is possible.
What’s the best gift you ever got?
The best gift I’ve ever received was a very random book that my dad gave me for my 13th birthday. It was fictional story that took place during the Civil War, written by a local author. I’m sure there were a very limited number of books printed, and I’m positive it never made any bestseller lists. It’s probably out of print now! But it was well written, and had a moving love story, and I adored it so much that I’ve read it almost every year since I was 13.
There have been so many times in my life when it’s been tempting to settle, particularly when it comes to romantic relationships, and this book has served as an anchor for me throughout the years. Ultimately, if I couldn’t feel in real life the way that I felt when reading that book, then I knew the relationship wasn’t right for me. I think we all need a sort of talisman like that; something that reminds us to honor what we really want and hold out hope for something better.
What’s the worst gift you ever got?
The worst gift I ever received was a scavenger hunt that an ex-boyfriend put together for our one-year anniversary. He messed up the order of a couple clues, and sent me driving in all sorts of wrong directions, and we ended up screaming at each other over the phone about it.
I was only 18, so my judgment wasn’t very refined yet, but I should have taken that whole experience for the giant red flag that it was. We couldn’t even communicate about a scavenger hunt! We didn’t break up until nearly 1.5 years later, and it really did not need to have lasted so long. My gut knew he was wrong from day one, but I deliberately ignored it.
What’s your advice for all things love, sex and dating?
My best advice when it comes to love and relationships is to want the right relationship for you more than you want a relationship. I’ve fallen victim to this in the past, and I’ve coached plenty of women through it, too. A lot of us are so afraid that what we want doesn’t exist, or we’re so uncomfortable with the idea of being alone, that we’ll stay in a relationship that we can feel deep down isn’t right.
I’ve come to a place in my life where if I had a choice between settling for someone who was “just OK” and being single forever, I’d happily be single forever! This becomes an easier thing to embrace when you’ve worked on cultivating a high level of self-respect.
Also, be more willing to see what’s actually there than what you want to see. I see a lot of women twisting their own perceptions so that they can see a better version of the person who’s actually standing in front of them. It takes courage to stop shrugging off someone’s questionable behavior. Often it’s more convenient – especially if you don’t believe you deserve better, or that anything better exists for you – to see what you want to see, rather than use your discernment and deal with the harsher reality of what’s there. If you find yourself tolerating, rationalizing, and justifying on a regular basis, it’s likely that you’re clouding your own judgment. But I promise, being a discerning person who has clear boundaries about what she will and won’t accept (and allowing the chips to fall where they may), feels so much better. We always feel better when we act from a place of integrity, rather than self-sabotage.
What’s your go-to pick-me-up?
My go-to pick-me-up is a working farm just a few miles from my house that’s open to the public. They’ve got horses, cows, goats, pigs – the works! They also have walking trails, so when I need to disconnect from the noise and hear myself think and just breathe, I head over there. Leaning on a fence watching horses graze is as good as any meditation. Our brains are hardwired to relax when we’re out in nature, and that form of restoration is something most of us rarely get enough of.
Tell us about your first heartbreak…
My first heartbreak happened over someone I never even dated! I was head-over-heels in love with a high school classmate for nearly 3 years. We were close friends and had a really strong connection, but I was WAY too shy to ever fess up to how I felt. And I’m pretty sure he was in the same boat. Anyway, when we were 16 I heard that he’d made out with some girl from another school and it just shattered my poor, innocent heart. I’d always held out hope, and that news completely burst my bubble. I ended up crying in a class we both shared, which was so awkward.
I think your first heartbreak leaves a unique imprint on you; it determines how you’ll respond to other relationships in the future. At least, that’s what happened for me. For years after that, I dated guys that I wasn’t fully attracted to in one way or another. I played it safe. Unconsciously, I think I was afraid to ever care that much again… I was protecting myself from feeling shattered all over again. I didn’t even realize I was living out this pattern until nearly a decade later! I realize now that what happened had nothing to do with my worthiness. I’m glad I had the ability to question that pattern, because it might have kept right on sabotaging me.
Tell us about a time you Bounced Back better than ever.
My business partner, Kristen, and I once teamed up with a friend to do a paid presentation for the company our friend worked for. The presentation was meant to be an introduction to a bigger project we wanted to do for this company. The three of us spent months on this presentation. We clocked miles and miles driving to and from meetings with the CEO and President of the company, since we were going to be pitching it to a big group of their employees. The day before the presentation, the President tells Kristen and our friend that they’re welcome to stay and give the presentation, but that they wanted me out.
Basically, they felt I was “too intense” for their employees, and that I would rub them the wrong way. What’s funny is that they weren’t wrong. I am kind of intense. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings, and I’ve never been particularly quiet or subtle about sharing them. It’s how I’m wired, and it’s not something I can easily “turn down.” For a stiff corporate environment that wanted their employees to play by the rules and not ask too many questions – I was too much of a wild card. As a career coach, I had the ability to make people start contemplating the point and purpose of why they were really there, and that wasn’t cool with them. So I had to go.
Kristen and our friend went ahead and did the presentation, but after that we severed ties with the company. It was infuriating and embarrassing and humiliating to be publicly dismissed like that (especially when neither of my partners were dismissed), but it provided me with a level of clarity I wouldn’t have had, otherwise – corporate was just not my place. I deeply cared about making corporate America a better place to work, but it was clear that I wasn’t going to achieve that from “the inside.” I needed to do it from the outside, in. So that’s what we did! Our site, Clarity on Fire, became geared toward coaching individuals and groups stuck in those exact types of environments, and helping them find more fulfilling careers.
Ultimately, I’m grateful because it motivated us to build our business, but it was also a great lesson for any kind of relationship – if they don’t want you for who you are, you definitely don’t want to be with them.