I have spent the last few weeks thinking about my productivity and how I manage my day. I waste far too much time investing in habits that no longer benefit me. To improve my day to day life I am removing negative things and situations. In order to do this I’m examining how the sunk cost fallacy impacts my life and making the necessary changes.
What is the sunk cost fallacy?
It actually started off as an economic term. Your sunk cost is money, time or resources that you invest into a project that cannot be returned. The fallacy is that your sunk cost will have no bearing on any future decision. The fact is that your past financial and emotional investment will influence your future choices and the more you invest the harder it is to abandon something.
How does it apply to my life?
Maybe some examples from my life will make it clearer? Peanut joined Brownies last year. The cost of her uniform and her subs were my sunk cost. When she decided she wanted to leave the group I originally refused because I had invested time and money into it. The truth of the matter is that there was no point continuing simply because of past sunk costs. She is much happier now and trying out various alternative activities.
Another example is the dreaded Candy Crush game. I have spent over a year playing this darn game. I am on level 711. I’ve invested a great deal of time into this game. I’m sick of it now. It has become a drain on my time but it seemed crazy to give up when I have completed so many levels. The crunch came when I was up until 1am playing a game I no longer enjoy, just so I could beat other people’s scores. That way lies madness. I have deleted the app.
Ways the sunk cost fallacy can impact your life
The sunk cost fallacy can be applied to many diverse situations. Relationships, friendships, hobbies, work, exercise and so much more. Here are a few situations that apply to many people;
- You stay in an unhappy relationship because you have already invested 5 years into making it work
- Maintaining awkward friendships because you’ve known each other since school
- You continue with a hobby that you no longer enjoy because you’ve bought all the equipment
- You watch every episode of a tv series you don’t like anymore because you have watched it from beginning (I’m thinking about you The Walking Dead)
- All you eat buffets – you don’t have to eat ALL of the food to get your monies worth
- Continuing to read a book you aren’t enjoying because you paid for it
- Going to the gym every day (despite a bad knee) because you’ve got annual membership
Change is good
If things no longer benefit you or make you happy it is ok to change. It doesn’t mean that you have wasted your previous investment. Time well spent is never wasted but that doesn’t mean you cannot change how you use your time in the future. I have started by making changes throughout my day. Maintaining routines because that’s what you’re used to doesn’t achieve anything in the long term. I’ve begun implementing a better system of time management and am already more productive.
Why keep doing the same thing because it’s easier than changing? The easy option is not necessarily the best option. Change is good. Change is refreshing. Don’t continue to invest in something that no longer works for you. Cut your losses. Move on and learn from the experience.
Please leave a comment about any sunk costs that impact your life?
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