A “sunk cost” is an investment that can’t be recovered.
What if…..you buy a ticket to a movie and, ten minutes into it, know it’s not going to be a film you’ll enjoy? The ticket was already purchased—it’s a sunk cost. Will you walk out or will you think, “I paid good money to see this, I’m not going to leave”?
There are times when we value things, situations or relationships more than they’re actually worth. This “sunk-cost bias” leads us to all kinds of less-than-healthy behaviors.
Too often I’ve heard things like:
“I can’t get rid of those dishes, even though I don’t like them; I paid so much for them.”
“I can’t give up now; I’ve spent 100 hours on it.”
“I can’t leave this relationship; I’ve invested twenty years in it.”
We often think that we have to hang onto all the possessions we’ve spent money on, follow through with all the things we’ve started, or stay in every relationship we’ve given time to, because the cost can never be recouped. But, the more we continue to invest, the harder it becomes to let go!
The dollars spent for that movie ticket—whether you stayed or left—are permanently gone. The same is true for the days, weeks or years you’ve already spent. Physical, emotional or psychological energy can’t be “returned”, but you can avoid even heavier “costs”.
Unlike putting money in an account where you’re guaranteed at least some return (even if it’s only 1%), this thing, situation or relationship continues to get costlier—personally, emotionally, physically, possibly financially and sometimes, sadly, spiritually.
allow yourself to stop taking on more costs
Most of us can’t completely banish all unwanted responsibilities and less-than-uplifting relationships from our lives. Nor, would most of us be willing to give up most of our possessions (even if we don’t truly enjoy them).
Many of us participate in a lot of things that don’t “feed” us (maybe a job you’re enduring until you can finally retire, or important responsibilities you have, to care for others), but we do have some—often many—choices.
You can’t do everything well. You can’t “be everything to everyone” (I’ve tried…more than once). You can’t always make the perfect choices.
What you can do is weigh the costs, figure out how you’ll live into your best self, and then move forward respecting the uncertainty and fragility of each day—by making choices, and spending time in ways, that honor who you are.
This moment, my friends, is all you have. What are you going to do with it?
©peace full home®/intentional living