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What is a Point Of No Return?

 , updated on April 26, 2023
A point of no return is the point at which a decision or action becomes irreversible. This is a common consideration in risk management, decision making and strategy planning.

Aviation

In aviation, a point of no return is the moment that an aircraft burns enough fuel that it is no longer possible to return to its departure point.

Burning Your Bridges

In some cases, a point of no return is intentionally crossed in order to increase commitment to a strategy. The analogy "burning your bridges" stems from historical battles in which military commanders intentionally destroyed their means of retreat such as bridges or boats in order to motivate their troops.

Sunken Costs Fallacy

Sunken costs is a common error of logic by which people continue with a failing strategy because they have invested in it. Points of no return are relatively rare. It is usually possible and preferable to end a failing strategy as quickly as possible.

Existential Risk

Points of no return are often difficult to understand in complex systems. As such, they may represent a particularly threatening and difficult to identify category of risk. For example, an environmental problem may reach a point of no return that results in widespread destruction of the planet's ecosystem.
Overview: Point Of No Return
Type
Definition
The point at which a decision, action or process becomes irreversible.
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