How much does it cost to contemplate a sunset? Anyone who studied microeconomics in college will possibly remember one of the most disturbing questions for a 19-year-old. If you also have a romantic view of life, it could even be an offensive question. Deep down, it captures one of the most powerful concepts in economics which, of course, is not love for nature, but opportunity cost. This is: what we stop earning for doing something, as in the case of sunset, would be playing sports, watching a movie or being with friends (I confess that in my case I did not know how to answer and, perhaps, that is why I remember it over the years ).
The opportunity cost is something that we do not always take into account when we face a change in our life, be it a job, a relationship, abandoning a book that bores us greatly or even fighting with a slot machine. We view our decisions by what we have invested and not by what we could achieve.
Economists have also given a highly graphic name to focusing not so much on what we could achieve, but on what we are going to lose. They call it sunk costs, that is, investments in time or money that are irrecoverable, but that keep us trapped in the face of change. And, curiously, the more we have invested in something, the more it costs us to get out, even if we don’t like it.
The Fallacy of Sunk Costs, as the American Writer Calls It Seth godinIt is one of the circumstances that most slows us down when it comes to getting out of situations that we don’t like. Scammers know you like a charm. They start with small favors or investments to the unwary they identify. Those who invest, be it money or time, do not consider the cost lost and continue as long as they do not lose the first investment. However, with that attitude they lose even more. Something similar happens with slot machines: you spend money and you have the fantasy that luck may come, because how are we going to waste all the coins we have spent? Well, if we work like this unconsciously, what would be the solution to get out of this trap? Let’s go back to the famous evening of the microeconomics exercise.
When we don’t like something and we want to change it, it is important to pay attention to all the excuses with which we are going to justify the decision to stay where we are. That is to say, of the fallacy of sunk costs: with the number of pages that I have read of this book; With the time that I have been friends with this person, even if I don’t like how it is… In each one it operates in a different way. But let’s remember: the more we have invested, the more difficult it will be to get out. Second, you have to focus on the alternative. What could I do with the same effort, time or energy? Maybe read another book that I like better or meet new people who fit more with me. To abandon certain things, sometimes you have to have more guts than to continue doing the same. Even if it is to contemplate a beautiful sunset.