Back to the motivation
So the original question was "what motivates you to do what you do?".
When I asked that question, I was really struggling with a lot of things...my health, my family, finishing my thesis, and finding a job.
I had to step back and evaluate where I was, how I got there, why I went there, and where the hell I was going.
I learned that I have strong goals molded from different types of motivations.
1.) I like dopamine.
That will probably never change--if it does it probably means I'm dead. I have a whole host of skills and abilities of which when I apply them in a work environment, I am positively reinforced. Although I always want to be in science because my love for science has never wavered through all of these years, and although these abilities are crucial to being a good scientist, that doesn't mean that they aren't also really useful to becoming successful in a scientific setting that is not "research".
I actually think a main source of my discontent is that I have a lot of talents not being employed in research. I think as an undergraduate I noticed those talents, as did others, and I saw that I might fit into a different niche than the research setting. I was just too busy existing to really see things for what they were.
2.) I want to save the world, starting one psychiatric disorder at the time. I want to be an avenger, in a sense.
I don't believe research is going to give me that immediate sense of "change" that I'm looking for. I believed it would when I was younger and when I didn't really know what research was all about (that elusive white whale), but I see now that I need something else to get that sense of "battle".
I want to help people now--I'm rewarded by immediate results. There are jobs that will allow me to do this ranging from policy to advocacy to technology transfer. And don't forget teaching. I really do want to teach, and I don't want to feel like teaching is "in the way" or "hindering me" from attaining job security. So many faculty here feel that way. How can they do research and publish and write grants if they have to teach? That's why so many of them are crappy teachers.
3.) I want to make money.
Now, I only took one economics class, but I think I understand the whole supply and demand thing. When you have lots of something, but the demand for that something is less than your supply, that thing is really cheap. We have way more people trying to be tenure track research faculty than there are positions for. That's why post docs float around in scientific limbo and junior faculty have to take valium to go to sleep and mini-thins to wake up and start their day.
So many tremendous intellectuals are just existing, tolerating chump-change pay and being slave labor, until things "get better". It will all be better at the next step. Many of them don't even know why they really want the next step, and if they decide at some point they don't want it, they are already in too deep to start over in a different career with no experience or training. They delay having children until they are too old to have children and, in 50 years, they are going to realize that they don't have the retirement funds necessary for the roach-free nursing home.
It's not right to treat yourself like that. It's not right to believe that you are doing something because "it's always what you wanted to do". Saying that is like saying, "If I do something else, it means that I have failed." Re-evaluate what you want and why you want it. Accomplishing your goals does not mean sticking with one career, especially if that career allows you to accomplish those goals in theory only.
I'm not saying you shouldn't try to be a research scientist if that's really your goal. The cream will rise to the top. But, if it's not really what you want, are you willing to make all the necessary sacrifices and forgo all of your desired positive reinforcers just for the sake of rising?