You may not like to be called a treasure hunter or a gold digger but for the sake of this post imagine you are a treasure hunter. After a long and a troublesome sail over the sea you found a big box of gold in one of the islands. But while in the middle of the sea, heading back home, the sea experienced some turbulence that caused some damage to your boat. To save the boat from sinking you have to throw your belonging off the boat to lighten its load. Unfortunately, your heaviest cargo is your big box of gold. What would you do in this case? You spent many years of your life investing in this painful mission to find the treasure. Would you just simply throw it all away? Or do you feel your life is worthless without that gold? And so you decide to keep it hoping and praying a miracle would save you, your boat and your gold.
Motivational psychologist, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson, explains in her article “How to walk away when it’s not working” that there is a simple and effective way to be sure you are making the best decisions when things go awry:
focus on what you have to gain, rather than what you have to lose.
She describes this gold:
As time passes, it becomes clear that things aren’t working out as you planned. You realize that pursuing whatever it is that you’re pursuing, whether it’s being successful in your current career, mending a troubled relationship or renovating your house from top to bottom, will cost you too much financially or emotionally, or take too long. But instead of moving on to new opportunities, all too often you simply stay the course and sacrifice your own well-being in the process.
Unfortunately, when we financially and emotionally invest in an endless project or a bad relationship we tend to think of what we will lose when we quit not what we will gain.
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 what it is and try to make the most of a bad situation.
There are several powerful and largely unconscious psychological forces at work here. We may throw good money after bad ideas, 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.
So, may be if you are a treasure hunter stuck in the middle of the sea, trying to determine whether to save your treasure or not, you should rethink the situation. Would you think of what you will lose (treasure) or what you will gain (your life)? Maybe not all similar real life scenarios end up to be about death and life but for some people thinking of letting go something so dear to them feel like a death penalty.
Read the article “How to walk away when it’s not working”