When I pick up a challenge, I have a strong drive to push through. The longer I go at it, the less likely I am to want to quit.
It’s not an uncommon phenomenon. In fact, it has a name. The sunk cost fallacy means the more you invest, the more committed you are to continuing. Nobody wants to know their investment was lost.
You may know this from gambling. Gamblers find it hard to stop because they’re already so invested. Surely the next spin of the roulette would earn them back their losses. Video games play on this as well. You spent so much time levelling your character up, how can you stop now, losing all that time? What about that TV show that lost its charm? Do we keep watching it, even though it’s no longer enjoyable?
I had a client once with a guiding principle. They called it “cutting the cord”. It’s a simple idea. For every effort made, continuously evaluate the likelihood of success. If it seems unlikely you could achieve success, or that achieving it would be too costly, you stop.
This is because while you can’t change how much you invested to a point, you can control how much more you’ll invest (and potentially lose). There is often a better route. If you don’t consider changing course, you may be committed to a costly and maybe lost cause.
So, if you’ve been doing something for long and it’s not paying off, stop. Think it over. Maybe it’s time to let it go.
No cords were harmed during the writing of this post.