Rewards based motivation is a trap. Doing things because of what you are going to “get” from your actions is a sure fire way to lose motivation, and likely be disappointed, over the long run.
There are lots of scientific and psychology based studies to back this. If you don’t believe me, check out Daniel Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
Whenever you base your actions on “attaining”, “acquiring”, “impressing”, “showing”, “proving”, etc. you will likely be strongly motivated in the short run, but your actions will lose meaning over time.
There will always be another doubter.
There will always be someone who is better.
Someone else will always have more than you.
Your “reward”, if it is something tangible, will wear out, go out of fashion, and lose it meaning.
The best reward is when the action itself is the reward
You should grow the business because you believe in what you are doing, and you enjoy the act of giving value to others, and living your life on your terms.
You should write the book because you enjoy the act of creating, regardless of how many books you sell and how many “twitter followers” you can attract.
You should exercise because you enjoy exercising, you enjoy feeling healthy, not because you “need to lose the pounds” so that you can look like someone else. If you don’t enjoy the treadmill, get off the treadmill. Do another form of exercise that is fun, and that is meaningful.
When the rewards that you get are internal, when you do things simply because you want to do them, and it doesn’t matter if you get a reward, then you have the ultimate freedom. You have internal freedom. You are free from society’s reward system and irrational expectations. Most importantly you have control of your own emotions. You no longer need “anything” or “anyone” to make you happy. Your own actions make you happy. That is ultimate freedom.