escalation of commitment

This comes out of my Organizational Behaviour text book for my most recent course.  In the text, this term is used in the context of group and team member behaviour, but it made me think of all sorts of personal stuff.

Escalation of commitment refers to the tendency to stick to an ineffective course of action when it is unlikely that the bad situation can be reversed … Personal examples include investing more money into an old or broken car, waiting an extremely long time for a bus to take you somewhere that you could just as easily have walked to, or trying to save a disruptive interpersonal relationship that lasted 10 years.  Does this sound like any situations you’ve been in?

My answer is “yes, yes it does”.  And it also makes me think how stubborn humans can be. I definitely have been ridiculously inflexible with plans in the past, even though some adjustments would have made for a better time.  It is difficult to make changes because sometimes that means admitting that we were wrong and that is something that is very difficult for most of our egos to take.  Alternatively, however, being able to change direction and make new plans on the fly can be very exhilarating and fun.  In fact, some of the best times I have ever had were spontaneous and unexpected.

I guess the above passage just stuck out to me as a reminder that sticking to something just because we said we would or because we feel like we should is never a good idea, and when I think back to the times in my life when I did that I remember that it never felt right or good anyway.

So yeah, it’s ok to change paths and break plans when things are not working!  I give you permission.


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