How Past May Impede Our Future
Rolf Dobelli in his book “The Art of Thinking Clearly” describes stunningly simply how cognitive biases often impede our decisions. One of the discussed biases is the sunk cost fallacy. It is a tendency to value resources (time, money, efforts, etc.) that have been already invested more than possible future outcomes.
The sunk cost fallacy appears often when talking about changing careers. How many times have your heard (or probably said/thought by yourself) “My parents paid a lot of money for my college. Why should I take a risk of changing a profession?”; “I spent ten years getting experience in this field — I can’t just quit”; “I sacrificed my relationships for an internship abroad, so switching to another area would be dumb”; and so on. And despite clear understanding that moving further in a current direction is harmful, these people are stuck on the same professional tracks (though been convinced that it is a necessary move because of parent’s money; gained experience; or sacrificed relationships).
But the sunk cost fallacy demonstrates explicitly that thinking of past investments is a road to nowhere, the more you stay on the job which doesn’t bring fulfillment and satisfaction, the more efforts you should apply to switch successfully to a new career. Therefore, while building your professional path, concentrate on the future — not the past.