Do you feel like you are Too Far In to get out now?
In the finance world their is a concept called “sunk cost bias,” which refers to the phenomenon where an individual or company has spent so much capital on an investment or product they cannot stop even when failure is the only outcome.
They have gotten too far in (spent too much) and cannot justify the wasted time and cost (investment) if they drop the product. Here is a definition from businessdictionary.com:
Expenses paid for previously that are not affected by current or future decisions and costs that should be ignored when analyzing new investment activities.
Read more: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/sunk-cost-bias.html
What does this have to do with our job/work/vocation/career? More than you might think.
Expenses paid for previously that are not affected by current or future decisions
At any point in our career path, we can look back at the work we have done, the various jobs we may have had, the rewards, raises and promotions we hopefully earned along the way, and all the things we helped accomplish.
None of that can be altered by the decisions you make now or in the future. It is what it is. Your decision to stay in a dead end job because you only have 10 years left to full retirement doesn’t change what you accomplished in the past, it doesn’t affect the promotion you either got or didn’t get 4 years ago.
The only value of the past is the experience you can take away from it. Some example questions to ask yourself might be:
- What did you learn about yourself?
- What things did you do better than anyone else?
- What things did you loathe doing?
- What relationships were helpful to you in getting to where you are?
- What skills did you acquire that you can bring to a different job or career?
Our possibilities now and in the future are endless. We need to look forward and stop worrying so much about what we have done so far.
Cost that should be ignored when analyzing new investment activities
One of the biggest problems I had with leaving my previous career was getting over the idea that I had put too much time in to leave now – I would be giving up everything I had worked for so far.
Many colleagues stayed on in jobs they no longer enjoyed simply because they only had 5 or 10 years left to qualify for early retirement.
Then they would stay on 5 more years to max out their retirement benefit. Sadly, a few timed their retirement perfectly to get the max benefit, only to pass away within a few years after retiring.
As stark as that sounds, this happened to more than one colleague I knew personally, and even more whom I knew professionally. I took this lesson to heart when I made my decision to leave.
I could not justify staying in a career simply because I was only so many years away from one benchmark or another. I left just three years shy of a full 20 years in, which would have significantly increased my retirement benefit. But it wasn’t worth it.
I ignored the cost of 17 years in when I analyzed my options for a new career, a new vocation.
If you are facing a crossroad in your current career, analyze your new options, ignoring the cost or time in to date. Set it aside and don’t allow it to skew your analysis for the future.
Once we have done the clear analysis, and made a decision to move on or stay with a renewed sense of purpose, we can review our past efforts and glean out the experiences, skills, relationships, etc. that will serve us well going into the future.
These are not tasks we performed or even job titles we had. This is an extraction of the valuable lessons, the interpersonal skills, and the expertise that we can continue to improve on and use to benefit our current and future endeavors.
Leave the titles and position descriptions behind and define your value in your own terms.