Tim Walker has a good sense of perspective on the academic goal he abandoned for greener pastures:
What I Was Thinking When I Started
From the time that I was a boy, I always assumed that I would be “Dr. Walker.” Through about the 8th or 9th grade, I thought I wanted to be a medical doctor. In my imagination, I was always a fancy specialist with a fancy label, like “otolaryngologist.” (The word virus was strong in me, even in those days.) By the time I got to college — and for the entire time that I was in college, and for many years after — I always assumed that I would earn a Ph.D. and become a professor.
How my Ph.D. Program Treated Me
Great, actually. In fact, I could hardly have asked for better.
At some point, the Big Goal — writing books — became more important to me than having the Ph.D. sheepskin. The books aren’t there yet (believe me, they’re coming), but that sense of priority abides.
This article contains excellent advice for the many young people who come to places like the PhysicsForums asking about pursuing their PhDs.
h/t John D Cook