I Can’t Stop Now! I’ve Put So Much Work In

We’ve all worked on a project, stayed in a relationship, or sat through a movie way past the point where we were totally disinterested. For me this generally happens because;

a) I feel that I’ve invested a lot in the past and I want it to pay off (what I’ll write about today)

b) I don’t really know what the next step is so I put it off (What I’ll write about next week)

I’m not talking about giving up on something because I was too lazy to persevere or because it became too hard but because I felt that I had genuinely outgrown the situation. Where I felt that there was more for me out there than I was currently doing, I had developed skills that meant that I was capable of more, or just something that used to excite me was just no longer interesting. Intuition normally tells me when I’ve fallen short and just need to try again or when I’m ready to move on.

I recently sat through BladeRunner 2049. In case you’re as sharp as me and didn’t know — it’s a sequel, not a remake. I’ll be honest, I’ve actually watched the first one and didn’t have any clue what was going on. I probably should have watched it a couple more times before I watched BR2049 because I’ve never been this confused before.

Visually stunning movie, thought provocative, albeit pretty grim and fairly difficult to stomach for me but I really shouldn’t have sat through the whole 3 hours or however long it was. It’s a fairly simple example but the plan of that Saturday night was to have fun. I was so focused on the price of the movie ticket and the time that it took to get there that I didn’t bother cutting my losses and finding something better to do.

I use this example because it reminds me that even though the investment was small, I struggled with the Sunk Cost Fallacy.

From Wikipedia:

Many people have strong misgivings about “wasting” resources (loss aversion). In the above example involving a non-refundable sporting event ticket, many people, for example, would feel obliged to go to the event despite not really wanting to, because doing otherwise would be wasting the ticket price; they feel they’ve passed the point of no return. This is sometimes referred to as the sunk cost fallacy. Economists would label this behavior “irrational”: it is inefficient because it misallocates resources by depending on information that is irrelevant to the decision being made.

The money you spent on your degree, the hours and emotional energy spent trying to get people to see things your way, our childhood, much like my $10 and that Saturday night, are done and dusted. They’re not coming back. Obviously difficult, but we need to realise that they don’t have any bearing on our next step.

Don’t give up on your goals by any means. My point is: if you feel like you are ready to move on but are held back by decisions you made in the past, then realise that you can’t reclaim that time, energy or money. All that you can do now is get ready for what’s coming up next but more on that next week.

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