The Opportunity Costs of Staying Stuck
Ep. 124
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    This week’s episode covers the opportunity costs of staying stuck. Opportunity costs are what you give up by foregoing potential alternative routes to choose your given path. I want you to think about the fact that you’re are always making a decision. And you’re always giving something up for that decision. Oftentimes our brains, like to believe that if we stay stuck, if nothing has changed on the outside, we’re just doing what we’ve always done and we haven’t lost anything. But that’s not true. In today’s episode, I dive deep into what it costs you to keep holding on to your sunk costs in the hopes that you make your decisions from a more intentional place.

    I also wanted to let you know that in a couple of weeks, I’m going to open doors for a workshop that I’m doing in January. Throughout my journey, I’ve completely changed the way I approach setting goals and has changed my life in a very profound way. I want to offer these techniques and coaching you guys. Visit to sign up.

Show Transcript
Welcome to another episode of lessons from a quitter. I'm so excited to have you here before I jump in, I wanted to let you know that in December, I'm going to open doors for a workshop that I'm doing in January. As we're getting close to the end of the year, you're going to hear all the rage about goal setting, and I've actually learned some techniques and a lot of coaching that has changed the way that I look at goals and it's changed the way that I set goals. And it's actually changed my life in a very profound way. And I wanted to offer this to you guys. It's going to be a month-long workshop with a class every week. There's going to be coaching throughout it. So a lot of what we're going to focus on is not just how to set goals, but how to get over procrastinating and the self-sabotage that inevitably happens when you set a goal and how to actually make sure that you are reaching those goals.

And so I would love to have you in that workshop. It isn't released yet, but I have a list going. So if you are interested to hear about it, when it comes out, I want you to go to quitter and sign up for that wait list. So I can let you know, as soon as that workshop is available, it's going to be honestly so much fun. I am so excited about it. I'm excited to spend a month with you guys and really geek out on all things goals and make sure that 2021 is a year that you move closer to that dream life. They know you want. So go to quitter to sign up for that waitlist. Okay, today, we're going to talk about opportunity costs. Now, two weeks ago, I did an episode about the sunk cost fallacy. If you haven't listened to that, it was episode 122.

I would suggest you go back and listen to that first. But basically the sunk cost fallacy is that our brains, when we invest anything, whether it's time or money or energy into something are more likely to stick with that thing, even if it no longer serves us and we're never to get that investment back, right? So we stay in careers for decades because we don't want to quote unquote, throw away the degree that we got or the amount of years we've spent climbing that ladder. And we talked all about how faulty that reasoning is and what you can do to start changing that outlook so that you can actually really reassess. What's going to serve you and go after the things that you want in your life. So again, I suggest you start there and listen to episode 122, if you haven't. But one thing that I didn't talk about that I wanted to, this is kind of like the partner to that episode.

And it would have been right after that episode, except for that we had, you know, a little thing called the U S election last week. And I wanted to address that. So listen to 122 and then come back and listen to this. If you already have listened to it, here's the thing when you are so focused on the sunk cost, right? When you were only looking backwards and you're only focused on what you might be wasting from the past, then you're not looking forward. You're not looking at the opportunity cost of staying stuck. Now, what is an opportunity cost? It is what you give up by foregoing potential alternative decisions to choose your given path. Okay? I want you to understand something. You are always making a decision. You are always giving something up for that decision. Oftentimes our brains, like to believe that if we stay stuck, like if nothing has changed kind of on the outside, we're just doing what we've always done.
Then we haven't lost or gained anything. It's just the same, but I don't have to really tell you that that's not true. Again. That is faulty reasoning because every day you choose to stay in the same place or every day you make the decision not to leave. You are giving up the opportunity for a different life. Now that can be with respect to your career, your relationships, your health. But I want you to know that it is a choice that you are making every single day. It's just that oftentimes you're not making it intentionally, right? It's just like a subconscious thing. You're just going along with what you've done, but the decision to act or not to act ease, sale a decision. And all I really want is for you to decide intentionally every single day, I want you to choose over and over again, what you want for your life.
And that even includes, like, if you think about our relationship, I think that you should be choosing your partner or spouse or whoever every day, you should decide that this is the person I want to be with. And you should work on that relationship because you are choosing it again. And again. I want you to do that with your career, right? I want to be intentional and understand that you have agency and you can leave anytime you want. And you can go work at like the corner grocery store, if you need to do, but you're not for whatever reason. And that's fine. You're going to have your reasons, but make sure you like those reasons and make sure, you know, you are choosing it and then have the courage to change that decision if it is not what you want anymore. So when you are looking at making that decision, one thing that you need to be evaluating are the opportunity costs that you're giving up by staying, because we are always giving something up, right?
For instance, in a relationship like if you choose to stay with your spouse, you are giving up the opportunity to date other people and maybe meet someone else. Right? And that might be an opportunity because you're willing to give up because you like your spouse and you would rather, you know, go through this life with them. Great. But you still gave something up. And it's the same thing. I want you to understand that there are just opportunity costs that you need to take into consideration when you are choosing to stay stuck, or when you are choosing to hold on to those sunk costs because that you deem them so valuable. And I want you to ask yourself, here are three questions that are really good to kind of mull over and think about when you are evaluating the opportunity costs. One is how much do I value this?
How much do I value where I am right now? Two is what am I giving up now to have this? And three is, what am I giving up in the future to have this? Now the difference between that second and third question is really key because with what am I giving up now to have this with respect to your career, you actually might not be giving up that much in the short term, right? In fact, you might be gaining something. So maybe you should ask, how is this serving me to stay put right now? Because I assure you that it is serving you in some way, or you wouldn't stay. And so maybe it's that you don't have to deal with the uncertainty of figuring out a new path. You don't have to face your family and friends. You don't have to face your own insecurity is, and self-loathing, that comes along with making these really difficult decisions.
You don't have to figure out how strong you are to push against what society demands of you to find out your own definition of success, right? You get to stay safe. So you may not be giving up a lot right now, but you still are giving up something you're giving up starting now so that you can get that answer sooner about what it is you want to do. You're maybe you're giving up feeling excited and energized to live into your purpose. Maybe you're giving up learning how to stand up for yourself and put yourself first, right? There are things that you are giving up even in the short term. But I think that the more important question with respect to evaluating what you're doing with your life is what am I giving up in the future to have this now? Because your decision doesn't just affect this year and next year, right?
Even though like our brains are not really good at calculating kind of the whole risk reward or costs for really future actions, we tend to want immediate gratification. And we really, even though we think we are planning for our future, I think it's really hard for a lot of us to think about where we're going to be in 10, 20, 30 years. But I want you to think about that. Like, what is staying stuck now leading you to give up over the next 10 to 20, 30, maybe 40 years, right? By not doing that work now, by not trying to figure it out, what are you giving up? Maybe it's opportunity to grow and try new things. Maybe it's more money or flexibility time or being lit up by the work that you do. Maybe it's figuring out who you really are when you're not trying to be everything to everybody else.
Maybe it's more happiness, fulfillment, excitement, spontaneity, confidence, empowerment. Maybe it's a life on your own terms because you're definitely giving something up. And when you start focusing on that, on that future, it becomes easier to let go of that sunk cost, right? Because yes, you get to keep using your degree. If you stay in this field or you don't quote unquote waste that experience, but you're giving up a whole lot to clutch onto that past. Right? And when you notice that when you're not just focusing on, am I wasting this degree, but you're looking at, am I wasting the next 30 years doing something? I hate it puts it in perspective. Now, the other thing I want you to think about when you're looking at these opportunity costs is the difference between seen and unseen trade-offs okay. So there is a difference between explicit and implicit alternatives.
And so I don't want you to just focus on the concrete examples of the opportunity costs that you're giving up by staying, right? So maybe the obvious things are like a new job or new career that you like, maybe it's more money or more flexibility. Like those are things that your brain can understand. But what about the changes that you can't see in episode one 19, I talked about the side effects of going after your dreams, right? And if you haven't listened to that episode, I highly recommend you do. And it talked a lot about the real reason to go after any goal is not to just reach that goal. Because as humans, we will always just move the goalposts, right? Like let's say you have a certain earning income goal. Once you get to that goal, you're just going to want to make more money or whatever the goal is.
Because as humans, we constantly want to just grow and evolve. And so if that's all you're doing and you're going to the next goalpost and the next goalpost, oftentimes it can feel like you're on this hamster wheel. But when you take a step back and realize that who you have become in the process of reaching that goal is really the important point. You actually start getting really excited about setting goals. Not because like, whether you hit it or not is not as big of a deal, but it's who you become that you get super excited about. Right? And the only reason you become a certain different person is because you work through those obstacles that are in your way in order to get to that goal. So like you overcome, you know, your need to want to sit and watch Netflix. Like you develop discipline, you develop work ethic, right?
Those are the side effects of going after that goal. And that applies here too. What you're scared to face when you leave. Right? The obstacles that you're scared of, of figuring out what this other career would be is actually the transformation that you're giving up by staying stuck. Right? So working through that perfectionism, like letting go of that, letting go of the people pleasing or the fear of what other people think, or the fear of failure working on trusting yourself and learning to love yourself, working on letting go of external validation or of tying your worth into what you do. All of those things come from doing the hard work of figuring out who you are. Right? All of those things come through this journey of figuring out, like, what is this right path for me? And how do I start listening to myself? And I really do recommend listening to all of episode one 19 to get an understanding of it all.
But I just want you to realize that the opportunity cost is not just more money and more flexibility and a new job. Like that's the cherry on top and it's great, but it's who you're becoming in that process, right? It's you learning to listen to yourself and to kind of buck everybody's else's expectations and learn to live a life that you find full, not what everybody else expects you to find fault. And so those are part of the opportunity costs of staying where you are and being so scared of what everybody else is going to think of what you do. And in addition to that, to the side effects, there are also implicit benefits that you're giving up. So we've now talked about the explicit opportunities, right? So like the actual job and the flexibility and the work hours, and, you know, things like that.
We've talked about the side effects that happened to you as a person. So like who you're going to become by going through this journey. But there's also tangible benefits that you probably have never thought about. And oftentimes it's harder to know until you go into it, but I just want you to know that they are there. So for example, for me, when I left law, I knew that I wanted more flexibility. I knew I wanted the potential to make more money. I didn't want it kind of this cap on my salary. I wanted to work less hours. I wanted to do something I was excited about. Like, those were all things that it was going after. Right. But what I didn't realize I would get, and I look back now and I realize the benefit of this journey is so much more. So like for instance, I have created one of the most supportive, unbelievable communities that has changed my life on social media.
So we hear all the bad things about Instagram or about social media. And everybody is so terrified of putting themselves out. And we're so scared of trolls or haters, or, you know, what is my cousin going to think when I put it out there. But I think what you don't realize when again, when you're holding onto those fears is like how many beautifully supportive people are out there? I have truly made like unbelievable friendships over social media, people that I've never met that I can't believe I've never met because I damned them every single day. Right. Who supported me, who've given me resources who helped me along, who put me in masterminds, who put me in touch with people, gotten me dream guests. I have messages every single day on Instagram or email with people like telling me how much the podcast has changed them or help them, you know, it's like that kind of stuff I never thought about, but it honestly has changed my life.
Like just knowing that it has impacted somebody knowing that what I'm doing is resonating with people. As I just said, like I've created friendships that I'd never dreamed of having I'm around people that actually like what they're doing. I remember when I was a lawyer and like, most people, I feel like networking can be a drag, but, and I apologize to all my lawyers listening, but like honestly, networking at lawyer events was the worst because it was like the misery Olympics. Like everybody is just talking about how horrible they have it. And like, there's a kind of a competition about who has it worse and whose partners were worse and whose clients were worse and how many hours they worked and all this, it was just this negative energy. And I realized maybe it was the networking events I was in. But I remember very clearly that like the first tech networking event I went to, I was like blown away because it was just the energy in the room was so different.
Like people were so happy to be doing the thing that they were doing. And they were so excited about their, the company they were creating. And I've realized that now through having left in the conferences I go to now, I mean, I love going to conferences now going to podcasting conferences or online business conferences, because everybody is so excited. You're just around a different group of people. I've created friendships that I never thought I would have. Right. Like the type of ambitious, incredible, amazing people who want to lift me up who want to support me, who I want to support, who I bounce ideas off of. I get to talk to incredible people that I never thought I had the opportunity to talk to. I think, you know, when you think about starting a podcast or even like a YouTube channel or whatever, there are all the fears about putting yourself out there and all the fears of what everyone's going to say, but you don't think about like how cool it is that you have a platform that other people want to come on and it gives you the opportunity to connect with people that you will never, you would never otherwise be able to connect with.
I think about that with the people, you know, I've had almost a hundred conversations with people that I would never have any other reason to have talked to. You know, some people that have really huge platforms, some people that don't have huge map forms, but I got this opportunity to have an hour of time to connect with someone and hear their story. And it's such a cool project. It was such a cool thing to get to experience. And out of that has like some friendships have developed and other people I haven't talked to, you know, is also okay. It's just something I never even thought about. And so I want you to think about those as well, right? Because when you're clutching so hard to hold onto what you have, I want you to think of all of the opportunity costs that you are giving up.
Not just the explicit ones, like not just the new career, but the new you, the new life experience, the new way of seeing the world, the new circle of friends, right? The new experiences that you're going to have, all of those things are what you are giving up by staying stuck and staying in that same world that you've always been because you don't want to give up the money or you know, that you spent on that degree or the time that you spent there. So yes, starting over is hard walking away from the time and money and effort you put in is hard. But so is staying somewhere that you hate. Regret is hard. Longing is hard. Envy is hard. Jealousy is hard. Pick your heart and pick it intentionally, know exactly what you're giving up and make sure that you are choosing to stay where you are because you want to. I hope that this episode has maybe helped you see a new way of looking at leaving or any decision that you want to make in your life. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at
And if you want to sign up for that goal setting workshop, visit Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at Twitter podcasts, I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.