How to Avoid Sunk Costs

I'd spent a lot of money on this business service. 

And the service hadn't been seamless; lots of phone calls and emails, document sharing, point people on vacation at inopportune times. Not the headache-free experience I'd expected with such a steep price tag. 

Then, after the bills were paid and headaches had, I discovered not only that this pricey service had made mistakes, but that I could have done the whole thing myself. And better. 

I fixed the mess-ups with steam coming out of my ears. All this money and time gone for what? 

And after fuming about it, I became aware I had a choice. Stay pissed off about these sunk costs or squeeze some learning out of the experience. 

This service had already burned up my money and my time. I decided I wouldn't let it burn up my spirits, too. To be clear, I had to decide that again and again. It was easy for me to go down the rabbit hole of being Very Very Angry about it.

But slowly, stumblingly, I began to extract some wisdom from the process. 

I learned I wouldn't do it again. That I'd bought the service out of fear - fear that I couldn't do it, wasn't smart enough to do it. And that it was the loss of time more than money that hurt the most. 

The realizations were helpful. So too was discovering that I can avoid sunk costs if I'm willing to mine the experience for fresh insights.

But perhaps best of all was the awareness that freedom isn't found in being permanently righteous and angry, but rather in being soft enough to let anything be my teacher. 

Sunk costs are heavy to lug around. I've been a professional lugger for some time. My focus these days is to transform these seemingly lost resources into found wisdom.   

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