So here it is. After months of attempting to find happiness in a 9-5 office routine I am here to report back. These words come from a true, gonzo style experiment to live the life of a a typical office worker, wear fancy clothes and be pinned to a desk for 9 + hours a day. Here it is, in writing, once and for all. Office life sucks. The monotony is deadly. The politics will eat your soul. So I quit. You would think this would be a concern and I would feel some level of regret. But I must say that I don’t sorta feel better. I feel totally and completely redeemed, like a sweet, kind deity has kissed my soul and my every burden has been lifted. Yes, it’s that good.Here is my advice to you, dear reader. Look at your life regularly. Examine what you are and what you aspire to be. See how distant those two points are. If they seem too far from each other it may be time to do something drastic.
I don’t want to get overly academic about this. But in his book Thinking Slow and Fast by Daniel Kahnemam (which I highly recommend) the author discusses the Sunken Cost Fallacy. Here’s an analogy. You are waiting in line at Starbucks because you really need a fix of caffeine. The line is long because it’s 8:30 in the morning. And you notice that people are ordering those fancy drinks, that take a long time- don’t they realize you’re in a hurry, self-centred bastards! You stand there for a while and more people file in behind you. Now you’ve been in line for 30 minutes. You think, man, 30 minutes to get a coffee, this is crazy- I should really just pack it in and skip the day’s caffeine fix. But, then a doubt enters your mind. It’s a very human response. It goes like this. Well, I’ve already sunk 30 minutes waiting for this coffee. And if I leave now I’ve literally wasted those 30 minutes. And the line is sort of moving. And what about all those people behind me- if I leave, those guys will be one pace closer to a glorious cup of coffee, and I’ll loose half an hour. How is that fair? No, I can’t leave now, it just doesn’t make sense. This is the sunken cost fallacy. And it misses the point. Time is not concerned about how long you have waited. Just because a half hour is gone, it does not automatically follow that you will get that mug of coffee in only a short period. Yes it may take five more minutes but it also may very well take another two hours. If the latter is the case, you should have cut your
losses at the 30 minute mark. But you didn’t because you’d already invested 30 whole minutes shuffling forward in line. This is a fallacy and it’s very difficult to accept. On a bigger scale, in life, it goes like this. Well, I’ve been at this office for two years. Yes, it sucks and I’m unhappy. But if I leave now, I’ll lose all my benefits and have to start again. And what about that position that is supposed to open up in management? I’ve been here for so long I must be next up for that position. And what about the parking… what a deal that I can park at the office for $150 a month! (true fact: this is what people at my former office actual advised me). Oh yeah, no question, I should definitely stick it out here…at least for a few more years.Do you see the fallacy? Do you see that you are miserable and that just because you have been there does not mean better days are necessarily ahead? It is a very human error, rooted deep in our psyche Just like the line in Starbucks, you do not want to sink all that time into a losing prospect. Yet sometimes, if not often, your best move is the hardest to do.
It’s to leave. Just up and go. Accept that time has been lost. But you need to truly assess if there is more to gain by leaving than by staying. And when you consider this decision, remind yourself of these words. I will surely find another cup of coffee. I will surely find another job, another partner, another, happier life. I did, and I feel much better.