The Sunk Cost Fallacy

by Danny Kavadlo on July 12, 2016

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on LinkedInPin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Danny Kavadlo Sunk Cost Fallacy1

Gamblers do it all the time.

You’ve seen them in Vegas. Atlantic City. New Orleans. They’re pumping money into shiny machines, stacking chips on velvet-covered tables, spinning their wheels at roulette. With tired eyes squinting through the thick, blue smoke, they see a fantastic vision of recovering what they’ve lost. In all likelihood, they won’t.

I imagine the thought process goes something like this: You’ve lost thousands and are continuing on a downward spiral, but you’ve already spent so much that this time, you gotta win! You’re due for a little luck anyhow. How could you not hit? You think that if you just keep at it, you will get back at least the cost you invested, maybe even a little more. But this is a fallacy. The cost is lost, my friend.

It’s why people hold onto falling stocks, hoping for a rebound, or spend all day at the track with nothing to show, rather than cutting their losses. Ultimately, you must do something different because what you’re doing isn’t working.

Sadly, money is not the only investment in which so many double down after losing. There are numerous others. Time immediately comes to mind, and it’s a far more worthy commodity than cash. You’re stuck at a dead end job. You hate it, but you’ve been there forever. “Oh, I cant leave,” you say meekly to yourself. “It’s too late to go anywhere else. I’ve already invested so much time.”

So what?

You won’t get that time back, even if you stay. Don’t focus on your diminishing returns. Just leave. If you think it’s too late to start something else and change your behavior and life, then we have a major problem on our hands. As the saying goes, time is of the essence. You go now!

Yet even more valuable than time and money is love. Yes, our most wondrous emotion (or oftentimes, a lack of it) has been known to fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy as well. Have you ever been in a toxic relationship that lasted way longer than it should? Have you ever grown so accustomed to another’s smile that it no longer brings you joy, only pain? Or even worse, indifference? Have you ever held on, when there remains nothing worthwhile to cling to? I reckon we all have and I’m sorry if you’ve suffered. We all live in pain at times, but if you’re stuck in a situation like this, you gotta get the hell out. That’s all I got to say about that.


All of these scenarios involve protecting yourself from yourself. No one can love another if they cannot love themselves. Yes, I’m telling you to love yourself wholly: personally, emotionally, spiritually and, of course, physically.

The great thing about nurturing your own physical body is that (barring injury or disability) it’s the one thing that you have complete control of. There is a direct correlation between effort and yield. Your body isn’t a slot machine; there is no need for luck here. No matter how many hours you spend at the casino, it does not guarantee prosperity. But putting hours into your training does!

For that matter, you can write the world’s greatest song, but if it doesn’t sell a million copies, you will have little or no validation of your craft. You can paint an amazing portrait, but if no one buys it, your career as an artist will not be successful. This is not the case with fitness. If you make a change today, and remain consistent, it will show. That’s part of what makes working out so real and beautiful. It’s the only phenomenon in this world where you truly reap what you sow.

Don’t subscribe to the sunk cost fallacy when it comes to your own being. So what if you haven’t trained in a week or a year or since high school? Try not to look at the sunk cost behind you; get over it. Look at what can be in front of you instead. It’s not too late to start a personal revolution today. Don’t gamble with your health.

Danny Kavadlo Muscle-Up

Get over it!

Keep The Dream Alive,



Danny Kavadlo is one of the world’s foremost authorities on calisthenics, nutrition and personal training. He is the author of the Dragon Door titles Strength Rules, Diamond-Cut Abs and Everybody Needs Training. Most recently, he co-authored Street Workout with his brother, Al Kavadlo. Danny is known for his minimalist philosophy, simple approach and motivational talents.

A true in-person experience, Danny is a Master Instructor for Dragon Door’s Progressive Calisthenics Certification. He has been featured in the NY Times, TRAIN, Men’s Fitness and is a regular contributor to Learn more about Danny at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  • Frank Delventhal

    Very nice could be also a resume of a book that I read lately. 🙂

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Thanks for the comment brother. I hope you’re well my friend.

  • Jack Arnow

    Great article. Start today. If you haven’t yet, seriously consider applying the ideas presented so well by Danny to your life.

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Thanks Jack. I miss you man, we gotta get together soon.

  • Portagee Slim

    Well done! So perfectly describes ME! I was 20+ years away from a time when I did anything physical. (Other than work. As a carpenter.) Got a different position, started adding weight and pain.
    Invested a little research and some time and the pain is fading. And I DO NOT train much or as consistently as I sometimes feel I should. Some weeks it is 10 reps of the big 4. For 3-4 days in the week, Period. And TriFectas, IF I remember to.
    Thank you!

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Hey PS,
      I really appreciate your comment. You really get it, friend. You say that you feel you do not train as often or consistently as you should, but YOU’RE DOING THE DAMN THING! Thats what it’s all about.
      Keep the dream alive,

  • villafan

    This is awesome Danny and so true. Life is too short to have regrets. Change is scary, i know only too well but through challenges we grow and become better people. Hope you are well brother.

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Hello Villafan,
      It’s true. Change can be scary. It can also be empowering. When we overcome adversity we come out better for it. Thanks for the comment.

  • Bret Hamilton

    Danny, I am sharing this with our clients at the gym. Thanks for writing. Very concise and to the point, but a fantastic message overall!

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Right on brother. Thanks!

  • Matt Schifferle

    Boom! So into these words (and the pics are solid as well). This is one of the things that drew me to fitness when I was younger. I figured I would be a loser my whole life because I wasn’t good at much of anything as a kid. Then one day I thought that if I just kept working hard at training then something good was bound to happen. Low and behold………..

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Hey Matt-
      Imagine that; If you keep working hard, something good will happen! Low and behold indeed!

  • RedTed

    Absolutely brother! Awesome article ?

    “The perfect time to plant a tree was 25 years ago. The second best time is NOW” – Start today peeps ?

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Hey RedTed,
      Thanks for your comment. Thats a great quote!

  • Great thoughts, Danny! 🙂 I like to think of working out as making an investment in the future 🙂

    • Danny Kavadlo


  • Steve Grizzly Opalenik

    The article is on point in so many ways, great and fun read

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Thanks Steve! I appreciate the comment and the support, as always.

  • Eoin Kenny

    “If you think it’s too late to start something else and change your behavior and life, then we have a major problem on our hands. As the saying goes, time is of the essence. You go now!” – Truer words never spoken, you’re a good writer Danny!

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Thanks for the kind words, Mr. Kenny! I took my time writing this one… it was definitely a work in progress. Glad you dig it amigo!

  • You’re a great man Danny, so pleased to have trained with you that weekend in London. I met a young girl on the road the other day, looking to get strong. We did a few incline push ups & free squats & I pointed her towards your book “Strength Rules.” I know I made the right recommendation.

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Hey Dan,
      It was GREAT training with you in the UK! Thanks for the recommendation my friend. Hope to see you soon,

  • David

    I have a constant battle with the demons of my life but I’ve managed to stay consistent with calisthenics for about three years now and that’s what keep me above the surface. You, your brother and Coach are among those few that help me keep going and I’m not gonna quit, I’ll attend PCC in a couple of years, that’s one the goals of my life. I can really relate to the content of this article and I find a helpfull reminder to try and embrace each day and keep it on the positive side of things. Great one DK!

    • Danny Kavadlo

      Hey David,
      Thanks for the kind words. At the end of the day, it really is about consistency and practice. Thanks for the support. I look forward to meeting you at PCC!

Previous post:

Next post: