Who doesn't like a huge payoff? Raise your hand on that one and I'll question your sanity!
Most of the time we get back exactly what we put into things. We can choose to invest our effort, time and other resources in whatever matters most to us. For some that is career, for others it could be family, hobbies, charities, health, self-gratification - you name it. Our choices are practically limitless.
Those who focus exclusively on moving up in the world will usually do just that...though they'll probably end up there all alone. Similarly, spend yourself solely on family and you are likely to have a close-knit clan, but you may be lacking in the friends and money department.
What I'm getting at is that we all need balance in our lives. If at times one area takes center stage and uses up most of our resources, so be it; attend to what needs your attention most. But, please...don't focus so much on the pay-off that you neglect the other areas of your life too long. Cases in point: the workaholic businessman who realizes he missed out on seeing his children grow up; the lonely housewife who finds herself friendless, goal-less, and at loose ends once the nest is empty; the single person with money to burn and acquaintances galore, but no deeply committed relationships; the starving artist who beggars not only himself, but his family.
The old pearl "you can't take it with you" is hard for some to swallow, so much so that they ignore everything but the almighty dollar until it's too late. Equally true, though altruistic, if you live life solely for others, you can end up with no life of your own. And those who devote themselves only to their art tend to make lousy partners, parents, and friends. Most die penniless anyhow.
"Pursuing dreams isn't a bad thing. But it's not the only thing."
Take it from someone who knows.
As a writer and artist, I would love to make it big. But I've learned throughout the years that huge payoffs have less value than lots of little ones --- just like one wildly happy day of utter freedom can't make up for years of drudgery. One big payoff can't compare to lasting contentment, and I'm not willing to sacrifice everything for my art. There is more to life than fulfilling a goal, namely; my family, friends, health, and peace of mind.
Usually, I encourage you to follow your dreams. This time I want you to keep them in perspective. I spent a large portion of my adulthood as the most dedicated stay-at-home mom in the world, pouring myself out on my family and rarely - if ever - stopping to refill and recharge. My dreams were definitely on hold for far too long. While I wasn't exactly miserable, I was less than fulfilled...and, I'll admit, often pretty miserable to live with. When the kids were mostly old enough to take care of themselves, I did an about-face, and dove into my writing career with such gusto that I began to see family life as an intrusion. Not good, either.
Nowadays I'm finding balance by making time for my work while keeping family and home a priority. I'm taking pleasure in all aspects of my life, not just one or two. I'm enjoying each day more, feeling more satisfied, and fulfilling my many roles in the greater scheme of things, bit by bit. Some days it is easy, and others it takes more effort, but it's a steady payoff. And, it makes my life infinitely richer in ways that matter most.
What are you investing in? Is it worth the cost?