"For a person to embark on a project, he has to value the return on his labour more than his loss of comfort."

This is definitely true for me. I don't value anything I produce (quite the contrary), so loss of comfort is always my primary motivating factor.

"The problem is that he is disinclined to trust in a return that is both distant and uncertain."

This. So much this. So many times I have been told that some onerous task would pay off in the future, but so far this has not proven to be the case. In my experience all hard work gets you is more work.