The More We Invest in Something, The Harder It Is to Let Go

An 'Essentialist' truth

For over 1 year I tried to build ‘Stolaroid Stories’ — a project to help learners of English improve their speaking through stories and photos. Despite big investments in time and money, it didn’t go anywhere, so I decided to stop pursuing it.

In 2022, I tried to help learners of English through nonfiction book clubs. In over a year, 1 student joined my clubs. A week later she cancelled. So I stopped offering book clubs.

Today I found this in a book I’m reading called Essentialism: The Disciplined Art of Pursuing Less by Greg McKeown:

“Sunk-cost bias is the tendency to continue to invest time, money, or energy into something we know is a losing proposition simply because we have already incurred, or sunk, a cost that cannot be recouped. But of course this can easily become a vicious cycle: the more we invest, the more determined we become to see it through and see our investment pay off. The more we invest in something, the harder it is to let go.” 

I’m glad I didn’t fall into that cycle.

How do you know when something isn’t working though? 

How do you determine when to abandon an idea?

Fabio Cerpelloni is an English language teacher, writer, author, and podcaster from Italy. You can find out more about him and his work by clicking on his glass of beer in the photo.