When life throws at you an unimaginable amount of obstacles to overcome, you need to be aware that at some point you have to verify what’s good for you. Should you go on or give up? There’s no easy answer. How to tell what’s the best for you in a certain situation?
Many movies use the plot where the protagonist has to overcome impossible obstacles. It comes with a price of hard work to achieve their goal. It’s especially noticeable in most sports films. An individual (like Rocky) or a team has to work hard to prove everyone wrong and reach their goal. We can all sympathise and identify with that. Oh, but reality is brutal and can easily turn those childlike dreams to ashes. Playing Eye Of The Tiger may motivate, but it’s not an ultimate problem solver.
The Sunk Cost Fallacy
When I was at the University a professor asked us a simple question during one of the lectures:
“Why are you here?”
The answer that most of us would say was more or less about pursuing the education that we wanted. The answer from out lecturer was more brutal and honest. It was the third year. It would be dumb to quit after such a long time, right? All those exams, sleepless nights and time spent at the University. It would be such a waste, right?
The concept of Sunk Costs Fallacy describes the situation that many of us struggle with. We continue with a course of action or behaviour because we’ve invested time, effort or money in it. Despite the failure, there seems to be no other path to take and many continue in this illogical state. Putting more effort into what isn’t working out for you isn’t going to get you back what you’ve already lost. Do you have a TV series that you watch only because you’ve already spent so much time on it? There’re many everyday life examples.
Ultimate Frisbee is a Sunk Cost Fallacy
Why do I like superheroes movies so much? They draw the success from within a group effort. Put together all the good, the bad, accept the weaknesses and take advantage of your strengths. Then you create the ultimate team up. It’s not one person, but the combination of a few that makes things happen. That’s what team sports are built on. That’s what Ultimate Frisbee thrives on. A team willing to work together.
So, why do I consider Ultimate Frisbee can be a Sunk Cost Fallacy?
Ultimate Frisbee is a team effort. In more than one aspect. When you train, you put a lot of your time not to let your team down. If you get involved in the organisational side then you’re facing more responsibilities. From a player point of view, it may not seem difficult or time-consuming. In fact, it is.
I realise now how it’s underestimated and how people don’t value the time and effort you put into it. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you have to shoulder the criticism and opinions contrary to the course of action. You need an open mind and patience. A crisis may strike from time to time and you lose all the fun. Recently, I envy people who only come and play. I also wish they could see how it looks from the other side.
As an INFJ, I care too much about things that become important for me. That’s why it’s so easy to get involved in more than only playing Ultimate Frisbee. I find helping out with the team satisfying. I like to listen and be there for my friends even though that costs me an introvert hangover. Teamwork is something that motivates me. It’s like finding your purpose.
I’ve lost the fun from playing Ultimate Frisbee a few months ago. The things that were pissing me off started to pile up. There was not much I could do about it apart from occasionally blowing up. I’ve thought many times about quitting. I told myself I’d have a break. Eventually, I’d settle for a deep breath and go on. In the end, once you fall you need to get back up, right? Like Cap…
There comes a moment when enough is enough. I’ve started to talk about the hopelessness and that we should value each other’s efforts and time. When you get “Yes, we should do something about that…” let’s hope those are not empty words.
In the end, there are certain things that got me question myself “Why am I even doing this?”.
- assembling a women team for a tournament: out of 9 ladies asked 3 give a reply. I start to wonder. Should even care? Am I ignored on purpose? Is there some issue I should know about? Is writing a “no” such an effort? Are we a team? Do you need a written invitation to a tournament? Why are you on a team if you don’t contribute in any way? Am I bothering you by even asking if you want to play?
- not respecting each others time: I sometimes wonder if it’s the bad weather, the lack of motivation or something entirely different that makes people ignore training invitations. Well, the weather is not the best at this time of the year, but there are teams that manage to play outdoor Ultimate at -20C! If we’ve got a training 2 times a week, I’m sure it’s not that hard to leave a bit of time for that on those exact days. For me, those two days are off limits. I go to the training. End of story. There are 7 days in a week, right? If you’re not going to come to the training than we may have not enough people to train with. Think of several people who think that no one will miss their absence? Think again.
- not feeling responsible for the progress of a team: each of us builds the team. It’s important that the players see it as their responsibility to build the team and to help it improve. Complaining never gave positive results. Instead of talking, let’s do something. The older players should be there to help out the new ones while they get to know the sport. The new ones should be able to feel as the part of a team as soon as they join.
I treat each of those things as my personal failure. Over time there’s nothing left but defeat, bitterness and hopelessness. So is all this time and effort worth all of this? I keep asking myself why should I care, but the answer is responsibility. It would be so easy to just walk away. Even though all of this is currently a sunk cost fallacy to me I don’t know if I’d dare to do it. There’s a lot of things to take into consideration (and those are excuses to continue what is no longer good).
Sink or swim?
What’s it going to take to be successful? Determination or giving up at the right moment? In our society encourages us to fake it till we make it. It’s another lie that we let ourselves believe. There’s no guarantee of a success. It’s not a black and white situation. The solution can be often found somewhere in-between. Keep your head above the water.
There are at least three strategies worth trying.
We continue many things because there are no boundaries established. Otherwise, how do you know when to stop doing something or if it’s worth going on? Setting them up right when you start can make it easier to see what should be the next step.
- Taking a break
Sometimes stopping taking part in an activity seems impossible to do. What you do may become a routine or a habit. Ending something is a definitive, permanent action. It doesn’t have to be like that. Taking a break means gaining a new perspective. You may either feel better and get to know new things that make you happy. You can always come back.
- An alternative
With limited time or energy, it’s good to know what are the alternatives to what you’re up to now. Committing to something makes it easy to lose the sight of other things. Perhaps there’s another hobby that you’re neglecting? There’s always a choice.
I don’t know if giving up is the right option. There’s sentiment, emotions and energy that play a big part in taking a decision. How to find fun in playing? How to get rid of frustration about organisational issues? There’s no one-way exit, but if the sunk cost gets greater, then it’s time to do something about it.