CC360 Blog

Drop Your Anchors

Drop Your Anchors

Anchoring is a form of cognitive bias inherent in each of us where we “anchor” our perspective based heavily on some form of initial information. This then influences future judgments due to placing too much value in the initial anchor. In our daily lives, anchoring locks us into the past rather than tuning us into the present. Anchoring is essentially a fancy way of saying we’re stuck in the past. Not only are we “stuck,” but anchoring without awareness is also a surefire way to steal much of our (otherwise elevated) joy in life. Here are a few personal examples where I’ve fallen into the anchoring trap but you don’t have to…

Money. Most of us have “a number” (financial target) for where we’d like to be with our savings at various points throughout our lives. The company ING even ran a long-standing series of ads based on this tendency (“Everyone has a number”). Anchoring plays a big role in this area of life, with the ups and downs of the stock market playing with our emotions. The market climbs – we anchor to that elevated number – and then are disappointed (with a number that previously was right on target!) when the market settles back into the trendline. Best-selling author (and Catalyst 360 podcast guest) Morgan Housel calls this “moving the goalposts,” and identifies it as a major stumbling block to thriving.

Athletics. I ran a 32:58 (10k) in my early 20s (5:19/mile pace). At age 58, I’m enjoying occasional races and will finish around 39 minutes (6:15/mile pace) for that same 10K distance. If I “anchor” to my 20-year-old self, I’m a washed-up loser. If, instead, I release that decades-old anchor, I’m pretty encouraged!

Grades. Our son earned straight A’s all through high school & college on his way to medical school. Clearly much wiser than his dad, once he was accepted into med school, he effectively dropped the grades anchor. He understood the key was no longer grades, but truly and effectively absorbing the knowledge and understanding to care for his patients. His ability to drop the (previously important) anchor has allowed him to focus on what matters most and enjoy the journey in the process.

Perhaps it is worth considering where anchoring may be weighing you down. Anchors are tremendous tool for securing a landing point from which to explore the world. However, when we forget to pull the anchor back up onto the ship to move forward, they can tear us to pieces.

 

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