'I don't think I can like this, because it's not what I'm used to...', and other lies we tell ourselves.

It’s true, we are creatures of habit. Living things are beholden to instincts that drive us to eat and drink regularly so that we don’t die, find surroundings we can predict, and develop routines that reduce stress on our survival mechanisms. In this day and age, though, most humans don’t need to have an understanding of the feeding patterns of local predators or the ability to stockpile foodstuffs for survival between harvests. We still have these underlying instincts, though, that drive many of us to seek consistency as if our survival depends on it. It seeps deep into society, and for the most part no one really questions it, save for a few outliers that are often painted as ‘upstarts’ or even revolutionaries(and thank the sweet heavens for them, as they are the ones that keep life interesting and did things like curing polio). My observations in this arena don’t really come from watching the front runners of technological or political reinvention, though - they come from watching the rest of us, those of us making small and manageable decisions on a daily, even momentary basis and the effect it has on society as a whole.

This is an extension of my last post about the stress of choices, but I felt there was more to say on the matter as it relates to our insistence on consistency, after overhearing some potential buyers at a real estate open house the other day. The conversation I overheard was peppered often with comments like ‘our house doesn’t have it this way so I don’t think I would like this’ and ‘but my kitchen has the *insert appliance/pantry/etc here, so this isn’t going to work for me…’ My suggestions like ‘it’s true that having the laundry upstairs is really the trend these days, but often I wish mine was in the basement, so I could run it overnight and not have it make noise…’ were met with dismissal. I started running through in my head how many times I’d been with buyers that had similar complaints over the years, and at all price points - that the houses they were looking at weren’t just like their CURRENT home, or they didn't have enough of the ‘things’ that all the houses being flipped in 5 days on HGTV had, or other various excuses that had at their core ‘this is not what I am used to and therefore it’s bad.’ House hunting is a good microscope for this behavior, because it’s just NOT possible for any one house to have everything exactly the way you want it. There are just too many variables, and it’s also not possible to predict every single action that will take place inside a home over the years. Maybe it’s a symptom of me working in a crazy buyer’s market with limitless inventory, or maybe that inventory takes the regulator off of people’s tolerance level and makes it easier for them to spin out of control into the chasm of choice, but either way it’s really common for me to hear the argument of ‘it’s not what we’re used to’ when people eliminate a property from their list. Take a minute to think about the big picture of that argument - you’re moving, and you’re doing that for a reason. Since Chicago isn't a hotbed of people being flung here by their company setting up new headquarters and sending employees not by choice, most people are moving around this market because they WANT to. They want a bigger place, a smaller place, a better place, a project place, a bigger yard, a smaller yard, etc etc. Right from the start your new place is not going to be your old place, and change is a choice you are making. Enjoy it! Try something new! Consider that you didn’t choose your first house - your parents did, and you got used to it and it was HOME. You didn’t have a lot to choose from when you bought or rented that first house out of college, and yet it was still the BEST, wasn’t it??? And there is the kicker - that little place with the crazy room off the back that no one could figure out, or the driveway too small to fit the car, or so little storage that your bikes shared the bedroom with you was good enough because it was yours. You made it work, you made it your own, and you probably even learned a few new tricks for getting through the day because of it. Remind yourself of that when you are house hunting and nothing you see is ‘perfect’ or they aren’t what you are used to - you’ll free yourself up to love something that might just be a great fit in the end, and you’ll save yourself a ton of stress worrying about it along the way. I almost caught myself up in that whole predicament of ‘but I have to have X, Y, and Z!!!!’ when i’ve been designing some house concepts lately, but then I remembered the freedom that comes with letting go of the must-haves a bit when something more interesting pops into the picture. Design will lead you places when you’re doing it right, and just like with house hunting, if you loosen the reins on your list of what you think you have to have, you’ll open yourself up to surprises you might just like even better.