Following your dreams
I just finished reading a lovely book, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. I wouldn't want to ruin it for you, but the general story is about a shepherd who is happy, but gives up his sheep to pursue his dream of finding a treasure at the Pyramids. He travels far and learns much and eventually realizes that the journey is just as important as the treasure.
I think there are many lessons in this book. As a graduate student, I was focused mostly on my treasure, a Ph.D. Sometimes my goal seemed unattainable and other times tantalizingly close. But by the end of my Ph.D., I realized that it wasn't about getting my thesis to work, it was about the process. Learning how to diagnosis a problem, to research it, and to develop and test solutions. Really all of research is like that. Maybe we start out wanting to understand one thing and along the way another interesting question or finding appears. Do we follow the first direction or the second?
A second lesson from this book is that you should pursue your dreams no matter what and listen to your heart. I started out in industry and didn't like it. I knew that I wanted to become a professor. I had to return to school and get a PhD and then do a postdoc. It would have been easy to stay where I was. I don't really make that much more money here than I did in industry with only a BS! and all that time and energy could have been spent elsewhere, but it was what I wanted, so I pursued it. Now I am a professor and I am very happy. (most of the time)
This logic also guided me to have children while in grad school. All my peers thought it was a terrible idea. But it was important to me, so I did it. I think it is really important to listen to your heart and follow it. Probably more important than anything else.