I was listening to a podcast with Seth Godin today and he said that a sunk cost is “a gift from your past self.” It’s something past-you gave to current-you. And past-you spent time and/or money on it, so current-you feels obligated to keep towing the line.
I get a lot of mileage out of treating my past and future selves as completely different people from my current self. I talked about this on my post on delegating to myself. So this concept hit home for me.
Here’s the thing: a gift is not an obligation. You can do what you want with it. That’s what makes it a gift. The fact that a sunk cost is a gift from past-you doesn’t make it any different than if it came from your distant aunt or your former coworker. So if you’d trash it coming from them, you should trash it coming from yourself.