It all goes back to the sunk cost fallacy.
The classic economic argument is that you are more likely to invest more into a bad deal because you've already invested in the deal, rather than cut your losses to pursue a better opportunity. You are using your past investment decision to justify your next investment decision.
Nobel Prize winning economist Daniel Kahneman explores this well in his best-seller, Thinking Fast and Slow.
The twist, however, is that for entrepreneurs, our time is more valuable than our money - and many economic arguments made about resources also apply to where we put our energy.
So, how can you prevent your goals from strangling you? There are a few ways:
- Know under what circumstances you will give up: As Seth Godin notes, establishing your limitations up front actually increases your chances of success
- Create small milestones: As Tim Ferriss recently explained, reachable goals give you enough momentum to move forward (and also may help prevent the sunk cost fallacy, since your investment is smaller)
- Pause and celebrate each step: Acknowledging progress makes you less likely to push further than necessary since you will feel like you have already accomplished something for your efforts