Humans are funny. Not only do we collect stamps, fall in love with Legolas and get scared of imaginary zombies when walking in the dark (yes I've done all of those), we're also experts at sacrificing something today for a reward tomorrow. Or next week. Or even next month. This can go to crazy lengths, and some people are "better" at doing this than others. I am really bad at sacrificing myself today for a reward later on. I prefer small rewards right now over a huge reward later on, if the huge reward requires some sort of work on my part. In that way I'm actually more like a chimpanzee.
It is probably one of the reasons I play so many alts. It's partially because I'm interested in knowing as much as possible about each class, but equally much for the constant, small, rewards you get from leveling alts. When leveling them you get new gear and new skills and new talents all the time. I love it. At max level you'll always have something to get on your alts. Right now I am getting epics for some of my alts. If I only had one char there would only be so many epics I could get before I was done with that project. But with 10 alts there is plenty to do.
What I very rarely do however is skill professions "just to skill them" or grind/farm for items. I've never farmed for a mount/pet, and rarely farmed an instance for a specific item. A very good example was when I only had one achievement left for Glory of the Cataclysm Hero and that was to have done Heroic Throne of the Tides. Instead of queueing for it specifically I did my random hc each day and thought that "I get it when I get it, why rush it?". I wanted to do a random hc for the challenge of healing and the extra reward of vp. But I didn't want to make an extra specific hc after that, because that would be a waste of time. The achievement wouldn't go anywhere. But there was a cap on how many vp I could get each day.
Same goes with my jewelcrafting. I never do dailies. Until I need a certain gem and feel like people are taking overprices on the Auction House. Then I do the amount of dailies needed to be able to buy that recipe, but no more. Until I need another recipe. Same goes with rep - I would never rep with a faction just to be exalted with it. I only rep it so far I need to get a certain item (now that you get rep from just wearing a tabard I just leave it on). I don't even rep with factions in a special order, I grab a tabard and put it on and when I am done with that faction I grab the next tabard. I don't check rewards. I never do dailies just to get rep or just to get tokens. I need a certain goal. I know that I will be exalted with all the factions sooner or later, so why bother? Back in Wrath when you had to either do dailies or buy marks to turn in for rep with Hodir, I chose to buy myself all the way from friendly to exalted. I did the dailies once. Money is easily gathered while doing fun stuff (like leveling alts) but I will never get those dreadfully boring hours doing dailies back again. Ever.
And now we have archaeology. Some people have spent countless hours digging to get that special epic. And I am definitely not saying they are stupid! Oh no, I am just as "stupid" in that case spending even more hours on leveling alts. It's a matter of which you feel is the more rewarding. Difference is I haven't met a single person who said they felt like digging was fun. Just the other day a guildie said he was archaeologing and it was about as fun as "slitting his wrists". I asked him why he would spend time with something as boring, and he said he wanted the epic twohander. Would it make all those hours of total boredom worth it? He felt so, I don't.
Actually there's not much of a difference between my rewards and those rewards (that I don't enjoy). Getting a level on a character takes as long as running through a dungeon for a mount (actually probably longer). But on the other hand I know for sure that reward is there in the other end of my time sink. Someone farming for something doesn't know. I couldn't do that for very long.
I need my goal withing reach, I need to know that taking these X steps will give me this reward. Some people can do something indefinetely only knowing they might get a reward at some point. It is technically possible to dig for years without getting an epic. It doesn't even matter how big the reward is to me. I just can't bother if I don't know when I will get it and that timeframe has to be quite short (unless it is gathered passively, like rep).
How much boredom would you put yourself through for a possible reward?