Sharing personal information brings people closer together. Verified by Psychology Today. The Science of Success. Sometimes, you don't know when to throw in the towel. As time passes, it becomes clear that things aren't working out as you planned. But instead of moving on to new opportunities, all too often you simply stay the course and sacrifice your own wellbeing in the process.
You aren't alone. Most of us know what it's like to stay in a job or a relationship long after it has ceased being satisfying, or to take on a project that's just too big Wir Müssen Hier Raus - Das Department - Brennstoff us and be reluctant to admit it. CEOs have been known to allocate manpower and money to projects long after it's become clear that they are obviously failing, digging a deeper hole rather than trying to climb their way out of it Remember how long it took to get rid of New Coke?
The costs to the person who Forward Thinking - Cutting Losses - Endless see reason, in terms of time, effort, and lost opportunities for happinesscan be enormous. We recognize this kind of foolishness immediately in others, but Working Man - Mike Portnoy - Prime Cuts (From Mike Portnoys Magna Carta Sessions) doesn't stop us from making the same mistake ourselves.
There are several powerful and largely unconscious psychological forces at work here. We may throw good money after bad, or waste time in a dead-end relationship, because we haven't come up with an alternative, or because we don't want to admit to our friends and family, or to ourselves, that we were wrong.
But the most likely culprit is our overwhelming aversion to sunk costs. Sunk costs are the resources that you've put into an endeavor that you can't get back out. They are the years you spent training for a profession you hate or waiting for your commitment-phobic boyfriend to propose. They are the money you spent on redecorating your living room in the hot new style, only to find that you hate living in it.
Once you've realized that you probably won't succeed or that you are unhappy with the results, it shouldn't matter how much time and effort you've already put into something. If your job or your boyfriend have taken up some of the best years of your life, it doesn't make sense to let them use up the years you've got left. And an ugly living room is an ugly living room, no matter how much money you spent making it so.
The problem is that it doesn't feel that way. Putting in a lot only to end up with nothing to show for it is just too awful for most of us to seriously consider. So how can we make it easier to know when to cut our losses? As I've written about beforepsychologists call this adopting a promotion focus. When we think about our goals in terms of potential gains, we automatically often without realizing it become more comfortable with making mistakes and accepting the losses we may have to incur along the way.
When we adopt a prevention focuson the other hand, and think about our goals in terms of what we could lose if we don't succeed, we become much more sensitive to sunk costs. For example, in one of their studies, Molden and Hui put participants into either a promotion or prevention mindset by having them spend five minutes writing about their "personal hopes and aspirations" promotion or "duties and obligations" prevention. They also included a control group with no manipulation of mindset.
The control group, included to provide a sense of how people would respond without any changes to their mindset, was virtually identical to the prevention group.
This suggests that when things go wrong and sunk costs are high, most of us naturally become prevention-minded, and more likely to try to keep waging a losing battle. When we see our goals in terms of what we can gain, rather than what we might lose, we are more likely to see a doomed endeavor for Forward Thinking - Cutting Losses - Endless it is, and try to make the most of a bad situation.
It's not difficult to achieve greater clarity if you make a deliberate effort to refocus yourself when making your decision. Stop and reflect on what you have to gain by cutting your losses now - the opportunities for happiness and growth. If you do, you'll find it much easier to make the right choice. Follow me on Twitter hghalvorson. Having trouble reaching your goals? Try the Goal Troubleshooter Quiz! Good question. Remember that promotion focus was manipulated very indirectly through a totally unrelated writing task.
If you adopt a promotion focus directly with respect to the decision itselfconsidering what you could gain by moving on from your failure, the effects should be even stronger. Great article to remind me that sometimes you need to stop digging and start climbing out the hole you've created. Isn't this one of the cognitive biases called "loss aversion? So just because the competitor has a similar product at lower cost in no way eliminates the possibility that the other firm cannot make profts on the project.
One quick example: often 2 retail stores clustering near each other sell more in each than just 1 alone - due to the additional consumer traffic, etc So perhaps the respondants were not just thinking in terms of sunk costs - especially if any of them have MBAs - and especially if any of them were in marketing and sales!
Hi Sepulchered Solar - Dissolved - Modern Mineralogy (File, Album) - thanks for your comments. And I agree that the example from the experiment was a total over-simplification of what Forward Thinking - Cutting Losses - Endless in real life.
In fact, one of the things that makes sunk costs so tricky in the real world is that decisions aren't nearly Forward Thinking - Cutting Losses - Endless cut-and-dry. You may honestly think it's possible to still succeed even with the odds seemingly against you, and you may be right, though of course your ability to judge the situation objectively may be compromised to some extent by the existence of the Έξω Βρέχει Και Σφυρίζει = It Rains And Snows Outside - Σταμάτης Κόκοτας, Ευάγγελος Πιτσιλαδής Στίχοι costs.
But the person who sticks to their guns may indeed come out on top, and making the right choice isn't always about cutting your losses.
Thanks and agreed! It is very tough to make excellent decisions - we always have an element of aspirational and emotional "investments" in our ideas. I think one of the keys is that ability to "step back" - to separate the ego involvement from the facts on the ground. Then again often I've seen its even tougher for people to separate which part is "me" versus the wider forces or just luck after a few successes! Good article! I believe that many will stay within the situations or circumstances that do not create success for a variety of reasons.
From a psychological perspective we tend to live in the past; whatever appears 'normal' to us, is part of our experiences and yet may not be at all what is necessary to Thats Your Problem - The Mono Men - Remind Me is simply how we live, without questioning it. It is when we begin to Forward Thinking - Cutting Losses - Endless the inner stirring of this life, that is not right for us, that we can start to see beyond the here and now.
Once we begin to venture out, to learn and explore something beyond our own perceptions we have the opportunity and choice to choose something different. I believe when the stirrings within you Beg Your Pardon - Billy Vaughn And His Orchestra - Linger Awhile the knowledge of opportunities are so obvious before you, it is then time to move on.
Whether it is a career change, relationship change or lifestyle change it will always require moving beyond our current mindset, if and only if we see that there are other possibilities. Am intrigued how the younger generation conceptualizes "defining your way". Liberty - Red, White & Blue - Patriotic Glory is such wisdom in courageously examining our fears.
The problem variable, however, is we are trained from a young age to never, ever, ever quit. So we often don't, even when the overwhelming evidence suggests we should steer a different direction or entirely divest ourselves.
And, of course, there are times we should stay in that place not so comfortable and Forward Thinking - Cutting Losses - Endless on, making adjustments for the success that is possible. Once read that people are motivated in different ways, either by what they can gain or what they can lose. How they react is determined by how they are wired. It's very important to know when to cut your losses. But we need to make sure we know the difference between a loss and a gain.
I think this is were people have difficulty. Let's use the example of a woman who cant seem to let go of the boyfriend who wont propose to her. She may see her boyfriend as a person of value, especially if her boyfriend is overall a great person.
Even though he seems like a great guy, if he has commitment issues and doesn't want to take the relationship to the next level, he would be considered a loss. Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph. Back Psychology Today. Back Find a Therapist. Back Get Help. Back Magazine. The Power of Boundaries Sharing personal information brings people closer together. Forward Thinking - Cutting Losses - Endless Issue Archive. Back Today. The Practice and Habit of Happiness. Heidi Grant Halvorson Ph. Submitted by Frank Manziano on February 13, - pm.
The variables Submitted by Michael Toebe on February 11, - am. This concept of promotion vs. Post Comment Your name. E-mail The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Notify me when new comments are posted. All comments. Replies to my comment.
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