I remember once holding on to a pair of really hideous green suede shoes that I’d bought online after spending all night in the pub. I kept them for no other reason than because they were expensive. In hindsight, it was probably a daft thing to do. I only remember thinking, “I need to get my money’s worth!”
What about you?
Ever held on to something you bought (like overtight jeans, or a crap hairdo) because it was expensive? Ever kept reading a book or listening to a piece of music right to the end, despite the fact that you weren’t enjoying it? Ever stayed with anything primarily because of how much you’d invested in it – even when it was clearly not working?
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you’ve fallen prey to what economists and psychologists call the “sunk-cost bias.” We continue to invest in a losing proposition because of what it’s already cost us. We are all vulnerable to this – because who wants to take a financial or other hit or even admit they wasted money, energy or time that could have been better spent?
Finally acknowledging that our ongoing choice to invest in something (or somebody) that is no longer serving us is difficult; sometimes extremely so. It’s why people stay in jobs they loathe and relationships that are clearly dysfunctional. That blind optimism explains why I kept those shoes so long!
Mindfulness and common sense both say: If you ever find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Because investing more into something that’s already not working, won’t make it better. Rather every day (or penny) you spend on something that isn’t enriching your life in some way, is a missed opportunity to invest in something that could.