Due to loss aversion, people tend to be much more sensitive to losses than gains. Much moreso.
So, it can be interesting to model how people react to losses and potential losses and contrast that to how they react to gains and potential gains.
The first thing we can look at are incremental progressive results -- that's adding 30 minutes of focused work to your day on the most important project you've got in your life, vs. adding in eating a stack of candy bars in one sitting a couple times a week.
With either of those actions, you don't see much big change immediately. But the person who regularly chips away at important projects winds up with a huge stack of interesting things they've done and further opportunities to do more, plus greater pride in their work and enhanced quality of life. Whereas going through a stack of candy bars doesn't hurt so much immediately, but leads to lower energy and more lethargy and worse overall health and feeling over time.
People are quite bad at this. Hence, most people don't devote regular time to an important project that they're passionate about. And the obesity rates in the developed world are rising rapidly.
There's more factors to it than just loss aversion, but the need to block out time to the exclusion of easier and more pleasurable things stings right away as a cost (and working through important projects often requires confronting the ego, failing, and otherwise not having a good time in the short term at times) whereas eating candy bars is immediately enjoyable.
When the loss is immediate (doing something difficult), that action is often not done. When the loss is distant into the future (worse health, lower energy... at an unknown date) the action often gets taken.
There's no miracle cure to any of this, but there's a few that bear mentioning.
Just being mindful of the situation often helps choose better actions.
Making things more tangible through tracking can help -- what gets measured, gets managed.
Perhaps the best solution is the one Tynan shared with us -- learning to enjoy your day to day work no matter what.
Still, it remains a challenge -- maybe one of the most core challenges of building a really thriving life.