A Useful Way to Know When to End a Relationship
One of the most useful concepts for making personal and business decisions is “Zero-sum thinking.”
What is it?
Zero-sum thinking is a method of clearing the mind of the effects of what is called a “sunken investment.” It’s a well-known fact that humans are susceptible to over-valuing things that they have already invested in.
For example, if you have invested a lot of time and energy in a relationship, there is a tendency to avoid giving up on that relationship because you feel like you have invested so much. You don’t want to lose your investment.
That logic makes sense on the surface, but not if you look a little more closely. The things you have invested are in the past. You cannot get them back. So your decision should be all about the present and the future.
Zero-sum thinking means you ask yourself this question:
“If I was not already in the relationship I am in now, would I choose to start this relationship given what I now know?”
This question clears the cobwebs of a sunken investment from our mind. It allows us to clearly think about what’s going to happen next. It allows us to stop making the mistake of thinking that our investments of time and energy in the past should be a factor that determines whether something is a good bet at this point in time.
Suzy Orman is an investment advisor who first revealed this concept to me. She was talking about the many people who own stock that depreciated in value during recent downturns in the economy. She talked about how many of her clients hold on to a stock because they don’t want to lose the money they have invested in that stock. They hope the stock will regain its value in the future and they can avoid the “sunken investment” loss.
Here’s what Suzy has to say about that. If you would not buy that stock today, swallow the loss and sell it today.
Nobody cares how much money you lost by owning a certain stock. The only thing that matters is whether that stock is a good place to invest your money at the present time. If you would not buy more of the stock right now (at the current price you could sell it for), that means you do not believe it is a good investment for the future. If it is not a good investment for the future, you should sell it now even if you take a loss in doing so. That is zero-sum thinking.
And now back to relationships.
If you are with a guy who has some good and bad qualities, who treats you well only some of the time, zero-sum thinking may be in order. Ask yourself this question, “Knowing what I now know, would I pursue a relationship with this man if I was single and starting over?”
I hope this concept will be as useful to you as it has been for me. It’s a way of reducing the complexity of decisions while focusing your mind on what’s coming next. Our decisions are always based on our best guess about what will happen in the future. You will make better predictions about the future if you clear your mind of the tendency to put too much emphasis on “sunken investments” from the past.
And if you are looking to learn more about making great decisions, I’ve developed a training course on mastering your own intuition to make the right relationship choices, check it out here.
Have a great day!