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Sunk Cost Bias

Have you ever been working on a project and know that it's not working out but you just can't seem to stop working on it? You know the sweater won't fit you, but you hope that after blocking, maybe it will (spoiler alert: it won't). You know the yarn and pattern just aren't working together but you've already spent so much time knitting this project that you just can't imagine frogging the project and finding something else to do with the yarn (even as you imagine all the other things the yarn could become instead).

Or maybe you have some yarn in your stash that you paid quite a bit for several years ago but now you're just not that excited about it. But you spent so much on it that you can't imagine not using it. And yet you never seem to reach for it or search out a project for it, so it just stays in your stash, taking up space.

Sound familiar? I know I've been there before and I'm not alone. Did you know there's a name for this feeling? It's called the sunk cost bias and is a concept discussed in behavioral economics. Basically, a sunk cost is a cost that has already been paid (in money or time) that cannot be recovered. The sunk cost bias happens when we can't let go of what we've already paid for/spent time on and continue to invest time or money on it.

Although I've come across this concept before, I recently read about it in the book Essentialism by Greg Mckeown, which is basically about trying to focus on what is important and not get distracted by everything around you. In the section about sunk cost bias, the author has a chart that shows the difference in thoughts between a non-Essentialist and an Essentialist.

I've made a few changes/additions to the chart to make it apply more specifically to us as knitters and crocheters.

So, are you like me? Have you fallen into this trap before? I'm trying to stick to more of the Essentialist frame of mind as I move forward in my crafting life. I hope seeing the different ways of thinking will also help you do the same. Because there are so many patterns and yarn out there that we could be spending our time and money on instead if we just admit when something isn't working out.

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