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Are Sunk Costs Like An Anchor On Your Career?

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Are ‘sunk costs’ like an anchor on your career by Julian Mather Motivational Speaker

Are ‘sunk costs’ like an anchor on your career?


At 17 years old I wanted to be a photojournalist so I joined the army. I thought I was to be a photographer. I was wrong.


They put me in the infantry and they yelled a lot.


I craved something quieter where I could view the world through a lens. I found the perfect job: army sniper.


I discovered I could impersonate a log.


So still, so comfortable, so quiet in my mind that birds would dance the length of my rifle barrel and snakes would sidle up for warmth, equally motionless for hours.


I was good at being a sniper. But there was a niggle in my head that wouldn’t quiet. It agitated me to the point I couldn’t pretend any longer.



103. c. Personality. The sniper must have a personality that allows him to kill calmly and deliberately…


That wasn’t me. So when my 3-year contract ended I walked away. All that effort, all that endless training. I haven’t fired a shot since but I found my way and my career moved forward.


I’ve done it multiple times. Walked away at the top of my profession and found my way again. 


One key lesson I learned is the fallacy of sunk costs. 


The idea that I’m in too deep, I’ve invested too much to walk away now. Really?


Gone are the days of a job for life. A portfolio of careers is the new norm. We are working until 70 and longer. So even for seasoned professionals, you will need the skills to walk away.


When deciding when to walk away I’ve learned 5 useful strategies.


➤DON’T RESIGN, REWIRE. Outside solutions rarely solve inside problems. Don’t quit too soon. First, try changing your outlook rather than changing the scenery. It’s a win/win. If it doesn’t help you are now better equipped.


➤DEMONSTRATE CONVICTION. You don’t change alone. Don’t go to loved ones with just an idea, go with results from sweat you have already invested into your new idea. Show them you’re serious.


➤EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE ARE ORDINARY PEOPLE WHO DO EXTRA. Effort meets, then beats talent. You don’t have to be the best. ( I’m a living example. )


➤GENERALIST IS THE NEW SPECIALIST. Generalists are resilient and sought after in a fast-changing workplace. Reign in your ego, learn to learn, unlearn, relearn and you’ll future-proof your employability.


➤MANAGE EXPECTATIONS. It rarely goes the way you think and takes twice as long. Have a process to handle this.


With basic commonsense and a handle on uncertainty, I’ve managed to un-anchor myself from sunk costs and experience the opposite: buoyant reward.


Have you walked away? What did it teach you? Do you want to walk away? What’s stopping you?





Change you or change the world. Which is easier?

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