The longer you pursue something, the easier it is to get set in your ways and be afraid of taking risks. Changing lanes mid-race, however, can be necessary to have a bigger impact.
Photo by Ben Stephenson
As Facebook VP of Advertising Andrew Bosworth explains, the sunk cost fallacy makes us believe that if we've been at a particular job or in a certain relationship for a long time, we can't give it up. However, this assumes that we made the right choice in the first place. Which is very unlikely, since the beginning of any long-term commitment is when you have the least knowledge about how it will work out. Boz refers to this as the "impact trap", because we become afraid of losing the impact our cumulative experience has gained. To get the most out of your life, you need to be willing to take risks:
We must take the long view of our careers. Optimising for immediate impact is a reasonable thing to do day by day but to avoid the impact trap we must consider impact over the course of years or even decades. That way when we get to the top of yet another mountain we have the courage to once again forge into the valley to pursue even higher peaks.
Of course, most of the best things in life take time. Skills, careers, and relationships all take years to build to maturity. However, the more experience you gain, the more likely you are to discover new possibilities or goals you can pursue. If you're not prepared to take new risks, you're banking on the idea that the younger, less-experienced past version of yourself is smarter than the current you.