Wisdom//

Why “Sunk Costs” Shouldn’t Keep You from a Career Change

Don’t be deterred by the amount of time you’ve already put into one profession

Photo Credit: Anson0618/Shutterstock
Photo Credit: Anson0618/Shutterstock

I hear about other professionals ‘reinventing’ themselves from time to time, trying out a different career, pursuing their intellectual curiosity to various ends, or taking a few months off between jobs to, say, trek in the Himalayas. That type of thing doesn’t go over so well in medicine—particularly surgery—which is often seen as sort of a ‘calling’ and not as amenable to professional wanderlust. Here’s what people would say to a surgeon who wanted to take a look around: ‘After all those years?’

While many physician colleagues have called me for advice since I moved on to becoming a start-up entrepreneur—hoping to make a similar change themselves—non-physicians most often remark “after all those years?” just as I had predicted. In his excellent book, Range, David Epstein explains that invoking this so-called “sunk cost fallacy” is a common reaction, as outsiders tend to reason that if you’ve already spent a good deal of time and effort on something, it must be best to stick with it. Obviously a career change after such lengthy training should never be made lightly, but the “sunk” years should not, in and of themselves, be a reason to avoid change.

Excerpted from Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside by Katrina Firlik, MD with permission from the author.

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Wonder//

If You're Feeling Lonely at Work, Read This

by John J. Frey III, MD
Community//

The Problem With Free

by Helen Hanison
Community//

The Future of Healthcare: “Women make 80% of healthcare decisions; If I can change the health of one woman, I will change the health of her family, her neighbors, & her co-workers” with Dr. Vonda Wright, MD

by Christina D. Warner, MBA

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.