People who follow me on Instagram already know about this incident, but in case you happen to have a life, here is what happened. Last December, my friend Ritam and I had planned to go watch a movie together. Justice League had just released, so I asked Ritam to buy the tickets. But when I went over to his place to leave for the theatre together, he looked at me and started smiling nervously.
“Surya, I think I have bought the wrong tickets.”
“Did you book some other movie?”
“Surya… we got tickets to the Hindi dubbed version.”
Before we begin, remember two words: Sunk cost. Repeat this a couple of times in your head before you start reading this.
Are you a little weirded out by the title? So was I.
But a month back, I came across the concept of sunk cost. The concept is simple:
Sunk cost refers to the cost that we have already incurred and cannot recover. Therefore, that should not affect our decisions.
For example, there was no way we could recover the price we paid for the Justice League (Hindi) tickets. But now we had two choices: either watch the movie (money spent + time wasted), or do something better with that time (just money spent + probably time enjoyed). Thus, as rational beings, we should have avoided going to the theater. But as sentimental human beings, we thought “Oh no, we have already spent Rs 350 on the tickets. Now we must go.”
We like to think of ourselves as rational beings. However, often, we fall prey to our sentiments. This is simply because we like to avoid losses. “If we do not go to watch Justice League (Hindi),” we told ourselves, “We make a loss of Rs 350.” So we decided, let us also spend around Rs 50 extra on transport, to go waste 2 hours of our lives. What a win.
You can apply the concept of sunk cost to many things in life.
You are afraid of dropping out of college. Why? Because you have already studied for two years. So you decide to waste another 2 years to finish college.
If you do not want to study electronics, then the 2 years you spent in learning signal processing is a sunk cost. Drop out, now.
You are afraid of breaking up with your partner. Why? Because you have invested too much of yourself into the relationship. There are so many photos of that trip you guys took to Mandarmoni/Goa/Pondicherry.
If you do not see a future with your partner, all those moments you’ve shared is a sunk cost. Break up, now.
But these are difficult decisions, and have consequences. We aren’t often brave enough to face them. So, I’ll tell you about an easy life decision you should incorporate in your life.
How often has this happened: You are sitting at your dinner table. You are full, and just cannot eat anymore. Your dad notices there’s still some food left on your plate. “Shurjo, eat your food. There are so many kids who do not get to eat.” You are still not sure how your eating the food will help the hungry kids out, but you’re afraid to ask. Dad continues, “Do you know how expensive this food is?”
This makes sense to you, and you start stuffing yourself. You eat far more than you needed to. Always a bad idea. This means you either have to spend extra hours at the gym, or gain weight and be unhealthy in general. I’m not even mentioning the medicines you have to take because you feel nauseous.The food on your table is sunk cost. It cannot be recovered. If you’re full, here are some things you could do:
The stupid thing to do is to continue eating.
The rational thing to do is to waste food.
It does not matter if it is your mother, or your grandparent, or that annoying relative who’s convinced that putting a lot of food on your plate will make her a superstar. Think about sunk cost, and politely say you cannot eat anymore.
If you still feel bad about having to waste food, convert the sunk cost into something useful. Consider the NGO Feeding India. They re-distribute excess food from corporates, restaurants, weddings, and so on, to people in need. They are present in more than 20 cities in India. So the next time you throw a party and you see a lot of food that will go to waste, do the right thing. Call 9871178810 and let the underprivileged have a share of your treat.
Please share this blogpost, and make your parents read this? Might just make someone’s day 🙂