Ignore Sunk Costs When Making New Decisions

We hold on to decisions from the past. Usually, I imagine, because there’s a complicated series of (emotional) connections we have to the value of things, and more importantly, what our relationship is to money and how we choose to spend it.

I’m in the business of physical transformation and change. And at the time I’m brought in to work my magic, there’s often a series of purchases that have been made already — it’s probably one of the reasons I was hired. An impulse sofa that was a bit too large for the room. Or a rug that was purchased on a trip to Afghanistan, perfect in a previous home but now not quite the right size. Call in the professional.

What’s a Sunk Cost?

Coined as the universal accounting term, if you studied business you know, the general concept means that money you spent — past tense — cannot be recovered and shouldn’t be factored in future (investment) decisions you make.

Why not? Because you’ll miss opportunities. In my realm, these are moments of exploration, creativity and freedom. I’m able to fully realize an efficient use of space, beauty and all, without the constraints of presupposed assumptions. The cascading effect of holding on to a not-quite-right sofa eliminates options.

It Differs from Sentimentality

Abandoning an heirloom is not what I’m describing. Pieces that we value because of a human connection enrich our spaces and add to the story of our home.

But somewhere along the way, money pierces an emotional nerve. Perhaps out of regret, shame or anger that we should have known better for a future we couldn’t know.

Letting Go

The energy it takes defending the money you already spent is likely to cost dearly. The most successful outcomes are when we shed the past and open our eyes to future delight.

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