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Career choices; the 'sunk costs' myth

Have you ever climbed a mountain, or perhaps just a high hill, hoping to get a great view from the top? There always comes a point, just as it’s raining or misty or getting dark and you’ve struggled for maybe two and a half hours, when you realise that every time you get around an outcrop you still can’t see the summit. That promised spectacular view, that amazing vista, that incredible panorama is still out of sight and you have no real idea how much further you will have to go to get there to see it.

Careers can often feel like that; a constant push to get on, in the hope that the end point will be reward enough for the physical effort, the mental stress and the exhaustion. At each turn and after every craggy obstacle you ask yourself: “Will it be worth it when I get there?” and then convince yourself “I’ve come this far, how can I turn back now?” You see a path to the left of you or to the right of you but that inner voice keeps telling you “No! Keep going. Straight ahead and upwards.”

For many, their careers are like the mountain climb that has no clear end in sight. No purpose. It’s just a question of holding on, enduring the pain, and lots of leg work.