Think, but don’t sink: Avoiding the Sunken Cost Fallacy

I had just began culinary school. Some conversations were had prior to with family & friends, as I was seriously contemplating a career that would more or less eliminate any personal life. Weekends & holidays would probably be shot, and I’d be a passing ship in the night to anyone who didn’t live a work life like mine. I had held a few jobs in my experience, but none that went along the lines of a career. This wasn’t just a potential job scenario, this was a direction.

I recall speaking to one of my chefs. He shared with me a few stories from over his 15 year career, and all I could hear was “15 years doing anything, consistently?”

Hey, I was in my early twenties. What did I know about anything long term? Looking back, I remember my father returning home from work one night, blinging a new gold watch he had received from the bank in which he was employed. 30 years of commitment, and he was rewarded handsomely. All I could think was “A gold watch? For free?”

Not considering he had returned to the same office, day after day for a number of decades, spending his only life in the same surrounding, doing what some people considered the norm for a good amount of time. With this perspective, a gold watch doesn’t have the same “bling” it did when I was a kid. But that was life, working to live, and pretty much living to work. The hamster wheel, the longevity, the Mondays. In comparison, 15 years for the chef I spoke of earlier wasn’t as long of a streak, but it was impactful enough to be remembered all these years later. Especially, since I’m closing in on 20 years as a trained chef, myself.

And what a journey it’s been. All of the years of trying to know more than I did, the lessons, the things that went wrong, and the miracles that went right. The memories of the growth I hadn’t realized was taking place until I was mature enough to look back and see the progress. The dedication I’ve given, the constant learning, whether through experience, research, or simply looking to be inspired. Every waking moment had something to do with bettering myself as a chef, even if it was deciding where to travel, and what I could learn about their history & cuisine. Of course, yes, I also lived. Scuba diving, hiking, turning up the music and driving with no destination… But, more so, every meal I ate, every time I cooked in a foreign land, and every step I wandered in markets or cities elsewhere, was perceived in my mind as a way to become a more versatile & knowledgeable chef. Although, if you were to ask me, sometimes I focus more on what I don’t know. Hey, I’s a work in progress.

In a previous writing, there was a reference to looking for inspiration to the point of procrastination. And, although I am guilty of not always choosing the most productive path if I was to compare, this journey has given me what I need to be where I sit today.

So, where is that? I mean, where am I? Well, literally, I’m in front of my iMac. We’re shut down. The world around me has altered the belief I had that the food biz was bulletproof. I mean, people will always have to eat, right? Well, I guess when a majority of what you do is based on a social aspect; music tours, large events, yachts on charter, etc., nothing is indestructible to a pandemic.

Although, even before the shutdown, I had been curious of a few things. I enjoyed writing, although sitting still was never my thing, and well, I still haven’t learned to walk and type. My iPhone’s camera was pretty cool, and I found myself in awesome places, so some great shots were created. Knowing there was more to capture, I picked up a camera and began to learn what the hell an aperture was, and why light matters in composing a shot. But, I’m not a writer. I’m not a photographer. I’m a chef, right? 20 years isn’t 30, so I better just stick to what I know, it’s my career. 

So, wait. Where does this theory come from? Why should I only stick to that aspect of my life? Growing up in a time where the people close to me were identified by their careers, and having a driven force in myself to want to be the best, I’ve been consumed. I know this. When it comes to spending any additional time away from bettering that aspect fo my life, I begin to wonder if I’m wasting my time. If I should fight any desire to do anything else, and just buckle down, ignoring a parallel passion or curiosity. Staying true to the inspiration vs. procrastination theory, I don’t feel my energy is being wasted. So what gives?

My time.

Well, hello new fear! Seems that when I exit that comfort zone, yet again, even with knowing what growth can take place outside of said bubble, it’s never easy. I mean, if I move on to something else, or simply add to my resume of life, any moment spent away from food must translate into my time to this point was a waste, right? (Disclaimer: I know the level of crazy this sounds from an outsider perspective.) At what cost could even considering a different direction take?

I’ve fallen for many things in my life that later proved to not be as it seemed. By definition, a fallacy is a mistaken belief, especially one based on unsound argument. When I was introduced to the theory of the Sunken Cost Fallacy, I was a bit relieved. Turns out, there is actually an observation that already exists over some thought processes I was experiencing first hand.

The concept of this mistaken belief, is that sometimes we opt to not move to a different trajectory, follow a new vision, based on the time we have already invested on our current course. Whether it be a job that no longer serves you, a relationship beyond joy for either taking part, or anything where the choice to continue is based solely upon the notion that to alter or end it, would create a perspective of previous time wasted, is all make believe.

I recently listened to a podcast called A Beautiful Anarchy by David Duchemin. In Episode 40: Feed The Fire, he speaks of keeping our creative fires lit. And how just because we might step away from one fire to stoke another, it doesn’t mean the original ambers don’t remain. Continuing on, he references that sometimes we just need to walk away long enough to gather the wood. Otherwise, how can we continue to fuel the fire. The takeaway for me here, is that my fire is the creativity, not the outlet. And that is what I seek, whether in the kitchen, out in nature armed with a camera, or at home in front of the screen as my fingers try to keep up on the keyboard as my mind speaks loudly & quickly. Shifting my mindset elsewhere doesn’t mean I’ve wasted anything to this point, for I wouldn’t have the experiences to share if I had done anything differently. I believe feeding one passion not only provides fuel towards another, but certain characteristics, traits, and lessons can be carried over from various aspects of my life to enhance those other experiences. 

Through this, I can see & hear, touch & taste, and soak in this world for all that its meant to be.

Grateful for my own permission to live what I dream.


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