It is hard to admit, but sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Psychologists have found that this may be out of our control. We tend to do illogical things that may not be the most beneficial – and this has to do with the way our minds work.
A phenomenon known as The Sunk-Cost Fallacy makes you act in ways that may not be to your best interest. It is the principle that we do not like to see past investments go to waste. We find it hard to fold even when we have a lousy hand, especially if we have already put a lot into the pot.
Have you ever read a book and after 100 pages thought “This book sucks!”, yet continued to read the book all the way to the end? This behaviour is an example of the sunk-cost fallacy in action. When we put time and effort into the first 100 pages, we continue to read to the end. This action is very counteractive. The best thing would be to leave the book unfinished and start a new, more enjoyable book.
This type of negative behaviour is not uncommon, and it turns out that it is something that affects almost everyone.
The sunk-cost fallacy can even affect us in all areas of life. In relationships, for example, we can often stay with a partner who is making us unhappy just because we have already spent five years investing our time, energy and lives with this person. The same can also happen with other types of relationships such as friendships.
There is an attachment after spending so long building a relationship with someone, and it is hard to see when they are not bringing out the best in us and when it is time to walk away. The sunk-cost fallacy makes it even harder to notice these things and can keep us staying in a relationship that is no longer in our best interest.
This phenomenon can also affect us in our career life. Someone may have been with a company for the last ten years, made an effort to grow and climb the ladder within that company. Deep down they are no longer at a job where we can reach their full potential. The work isn’t stimulating anymore after many years in the same place.
Regardless of the fact the position is not motivating them anymore, they still stay. It is possible that we stay at a job that is no longer fulfilling to us, just because we have been there for years already. The sunk-cost fallacy could be to blame – and if this doesn’t describe your own work life, we think the odds are very high that you have a college in this exact predicament.
It is always hard to take a step back and evaluate our lives without filtering. There may be things that you are doing that might not be to your best interest. Are there areas that could be improved in your life if only you folded the hand you were given and took it as an opportunity to do something that would benefit you?
Knowledge is critical, and hopefully, now you can notice the effects of the sunk-cost fallacy in your own life – once you see, you can make changes.
Remember the sunk-cost fallacy the next time you find yourself sticking with something that might not be in your best interest.
If you think this post describes someone else you know that may be suffering from the effects of the sunk-cost fallacy, be a good friend and share this with them.
Written by Terri Louise