I've been thinking of what I want to do with my life and why (the link is a joke, but there is another versions). I've been thinking of aspirations.
I'm a doctoral student. I suppose there is some prestige in that once you get out and can be called doctor and you get a PhD behind your name... Unless you are just hanging out in school because you are afraid of leaving school and getting a real job, that just makes you sort of immature and unprepared to grow up. I don't know which I am.
I've been thinking about future jobs. What do I want to do? (Whenever I think of that, I think of the Twisted Sister videos I linked to above, I don't know why). I don't, however, want to spend my life listening to bad music from hair bands. I think that I have some good ideas that I could spend a lifetime doing research and contributing to research. I also like working with students who are deciding what to do with their lives (Since I don't know my own direction, I figure I am qualified to direct others.)
In my field the top researchers are competing for grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH). Reaching the ultimate 'success' in my field involves spending long work weeks competing for big money grants from the NIH. That is not my goal. I think that I could do it. I think that I could make lots of money and contribute greatly to 'the literature'. That's not my goal. I don't want you to misunderstand, I have come this far in my education because I want to use the information I have learned to help people, but I think there is a disconnect between the available information on health and application. I want to spend more time filling the gap than conducting new groundbreaking research. I would consider myself successful if I can teach others about how to be healthy and it makes a difference in their lives. I can do this teaching classes or in producing research that is understandable and attainable for people who have been struggling with their health.
Those are my professional aspirations. Those are secondary to my real goals in life. I want to spend lots of time with my family (I have to improve that). I want to spend real time with my kids helping them to learn the importance of integrity and hard work. I want my children to learn through real life experience how to communicate effectively and how to interact with others in a way that uplifts all involved. I don't necessarily think that I'm good at that, but I have met people who are and they are a pleasure to talk to. I want my kids to be able to contribute more to society than I have. For the time being my wife is doing a great job at working toward my real goals in my life. I hope to be able to contribute more fully to my goals soon.
This goes back a little to what other people think of you. Is this a cop out? Am I trying to enter retirement early and spend my life doing nothing but fishing and hanging out in my underwear around the house? I don't think so. I have definite goals and they take work. It just happens to be different work than a manufacturing job or even the work as a professor. I want to work at bringing my family up properly.
But can you make money raising a family? No. That's why I have to have a real job. Here's the big point that I want to make; my aspirations and true goals in life are based on family. If I spend too much time at work (like I do now), I will fall short of my true goals. In order to attain the goals that I feel are really important in this life, I will have to get by on a meager income and sacrifice financial well being for time spent with my family. In many circles I think I will be considered unsuccessful because I haven't taken the highest paying (and generally most time demanding) jobs, but 'settled' for a 'lesser' position. The thing is that I will NEVER be 'settling' for my family because I believe that there is nothing GREATER to work for than a successful family.