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  • Writer's pictureWarrick

What you want will change

The sunk cost fallacy and how much focus should we give the things we want?

Hello fellow Protagonists,

Have a think about what your key drivers and motivations were 10 years ago. Were you more focused on earning as much money as you could, impressing your friends with cars and clothes, maybe pushing up the company ladder?

We may not have changed these drivers and still feel this way but if so, are these wants as strong as they once were?

Chances are we have changed our focus throughout our lives as our own situations also change. Settling into or ending relationships, having children, or just a realisation that there is more to life then what car we drive and what our job title is.

If our wants and our focus has changed in time then it is pretty safe to say that they will also change again in the future.

It is totally normal to want things and to have ambitions, what we want to be mindful of is that when we are focusing on something specific we are not paying attention to everything else that is going on.

Our vision is an incredible thing but when we look at something, what we are staring at is crystal clear but everything else in our peripheral vision just becomes blurry. Our brains actually fills in our peripheral vision for us with a pinch of guesswork and relying on past experience.

To prove this watch this old-school awareness test.

Focusing on one specific want, like a promotion, places hawk like vision on that task to help achieve this goal. What can happen is that other, equally or potentially more important areas of our lives become blurry and are also filled out with guesswork, relying on experience.

This affect can also be multiplied further the longer we have been focusing on something we want because we feel we are in to deep to quit.

This is called the sunk cost fallacy.

The sunk cost fallacy is basically a concern that us stopping and losing something now feels so important that it outweighs any likely gain of achieving that same thing.

We stay with something because we have already invested enough time or money into it. Like holding on to shares or a collapsing business long after they should have been sold or shutdown, sticking at a job simply because we have already done so for 15 years already, or finishing a meal that ended up being way too big so that we don't feel we have wasted our money and are too conscious to ask for a doggie bag.

What have we been continuing just because we have invested so much time or money in it? This becomes a vicious cycle as we keep on focusing on something to avoid losing, which takes up even more time and makes it even harder to quit later on as even more effort has now been used and wasted.

What we focus on will influence what we notice and there might be something that we did not see was there the whole time, previously being filled in by guesswork.

Keep our ambitions and wants as life would be very strange without them but be open to change these when they are obviously not working for us or not in line with our values, even when we feel heavily invested in them.

There are an infinite number of wants, ambitions and possibilities in life. Some of these will be achieved and others will never be achieved and that is just the way things are. When one of our heavily invested aims become challenged it can feel like our whole world is threatened. Stop staring for a minute and take a proper look around, something else might be right under our nose.

GLHF (Good Luck Have Fun)


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