I increasingly view my Achiever tendencies as a mental disease, a bit of neurological programming from our ancestral environment being over-stimulated by modern tools that provide all the signals without the underlying substance. Parts of our brains react to the bigger numbers and flashing lights in our Skinner boxes, but running on digital treadmills will not get us anywhere.
Today, I encourage you to separate the reward from the activity, the pellet from the lever. If it really is the journey rather than the destination, you should still want to go on the journey without a prize at the end. Would you keep re-running that dungeon if there was no more loot to gain? Would you farm if you had unlimited gold? For some things, you would. Good. Do those, freed of any worries about winning a roll on a 2% drop.
There is an easy way to test this: cheat. Grant yourself the reward at the end. This will not work in an MMO, but if the game saves to your hard drive, you can edit the save file. Are you really farming for experience or gold in some flash game? Are you running Diablo II or Borderlands bosses to try for better equipment? Backup your game, download a save game editor, and just give yourself the gun you want. There, now that you are no longer pulling the arm on a virtual slot machine, do you actually want to fight that boss multiple times per night?
Because let me tell you, we may call them Achievements, but they just measure time spent, and if you do not enjoy what you are doing along the way, you could be spending your time elsewhere. If your game gates the fun content behind that kind of repetition, throw the game away and find something that will not make you crawl through barbed wire. If you find that it is the getting rather than the having, I hate to tell you this, but desire is the root of all suffering. There will always be more useless crap to want, and apparently it is useless crap to you if you no longer want it once you have it. If you are really willing to work long hours for a digital gold star, I need some wallpaper replaced in the guest room. I’ll e-mail you the imaginary star, gold piece, or sniper rifle.