The Ponder Effect | Job Help
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Where am I in my career?


If you are like most people, you want a job that perfectly aligns with your passions, interests, and skills.  You want to leap out of bed and race to the office and be brilliant and passionate.  You want to high-five your soul as you stand atop your career.  You want to know with deep conviction that you are making the correct decisions.  And you want the “answer” to come to you by divine inspiration.  You feel the fragility of your career and you really do not want to mess it up.

If you are living out your definition of success, how did you get there?  Should people expect success, and if so, by when? If you don’t feel that you are living out your definition of success, why not?  What is holding you back?

This is ultimately a question of alignment: Is the work I am doing in my life aligned with the definition of success I have in my head and in my heart?  Are those two definitions even aligned (the head one and the heart one)? Where am I and where might I go from here?

Frazer Buntin is a healthcare executive, budding author, and long-time student of human emotion as it relates to work. His book,
A Monkey Could Do Your Job: Practical Tactics for Understanding and Overcoming Crazy Feelings about Work, is now available at

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7 Ponderings
  • Varina Willse

    February 24, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    My youngest is going to kindergarten soon, and I don’t know what that means for me. I have talked to other women who feel both excited and daunted by this change. There’s a pressure to “go back to work” (as if being a mom to young kids isn’t work) and yet knowing what that is or how to balance things can be really hard, especially with that added pressure of needing it to feel perfectly aligned. I also wonder sometimes if we expect too much from our jobs. This desire to have a job that perfectly aligns with our passions, interests, and skills seems like a really high expectation. For most of time, people didn’t think like this. Work was work, and you did it to survive. It seems harder now, this quest for a fulfilling career. Especially if you want to have that and also be a present, tuned-in, great mom or dad at the same time. I guess we have to figure out what our priorities are big picture and then do the best we can to keep those front and center and let that be successful.

  • Varina Willse

    February 24, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    My immediate response to this question is that I feel like I have no idea where I am in my career. I am proud of the experiences and accomplishments I have had and yet somehow it doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Because I work for myself, sometimes it feel less “real,” as if all the hours and effort I put into my work don’t count as much or people don’t recognize them (though I know that shouldn’t matter). I feel a jumble of conflicting things about where I am in my career: proud, passionate, overwhelmed, fragmented, unsure, purposeful, and floating. That last question is a really helpful compass, though. I do feel like the work I am doing aligns with the definition of success I have in my heart but not the one I have in my mind. I didn’t realize those two were out of whack until now. My head craves more recognition, a larger stage, more financial reward. My heart is content with the fact that I am using my talents on a daily basis and that I have a lot of autonomy over my time. I am doing exactly what I wanted to do when I was a child. That should be and is enough.

  • Anonymous

    February 25, 2019 at 10:17 am

    I think we often set unrealistic expectations for ourselves because our happiness is often connected to our jobs. There is no getting around that fact, yet we all need financial security and therefore we have to compromise some of our personal goals/ desires in order to live to insure health insurance and financial well being. I think their is a happy medium that we have to strike at some point. I think we are an impatient people and we don’t like waiting, sometimes we have to wait as I did. I would suggest if your in a waiting room to find things that you do like about your job, know that you’re helping your family to work and find some time for yourself to do what you love doing, painting, writing, etc. It is truly a balancing act.

  • Anonymous

    February 27, 2019 at 7:00 am

    I am 61. After about ten years of kids moving back in and out of my house, they are all now launched and on their own. My husband plans to work until he is 70 because he loves going to work everyday. I am a people person. Being home in a big empty house, even with my many hobbies, is isolating I want meaningful work where I can be creative, helpful, engaged, doing hands on part-time work. I am into issues of social justice. This is the first time I am ready for the next thing. I have never posted on ponder. Not quite sure why I am, but here goes!

  • Anonymous

    February 27, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    While very few people would consider my career path a success I am happier making less money with far less stress in my life than I ever was teaching in a classroom. Teaching had become a stressful 365 days a year job as the work never seemed to end. Working as a Nanny has transformed my work life; now I am paid to play! Truly a joy to get to work each day!

  • Anonymous

    March 1, 2019 at 4:06 pm

    The fact of the matter is that I am not where I want to be. However, I know that I am not alone and the journey and the searching are the only way forward.

  • Anonymous

    March 1, 2019 at 10:33 pm

    I am now a grandmother. The only “career” I ever wanted was to be a stay at home mom and I was fortunate that financially we were able for me to do that. I wanted the joys, the challenges, the hard work of loving, guiding and helping our children learn and celebrate who they are. As well as how to face and persevere through disappointments, failure and setbacks. I wanted to teach them to be positive contributors to their communities. Now our children are grown and my “career” is basically over except for an occasional bit of consulting. I look at these adults with immense pride and awe in who they are, and I understand that it wasn’t me but the material I was given.