What’s the real secret to happiness?

    Here’s a deep topic: the secret to happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment. You know what it is?

    Expectations. Being happy and fulfilled is simply a matter of having your expectations met. It doesn’t even matter much whether your expectations are high or low, as long as what you expect to happen is what actually happens.

    Why is a home builder writing on such a philosophical topic? Because I’ve seen happy clients and unhappy ones, and I can boil the difference down to expectations.

    Here’s what I mean: not too long ago, I lost a potential client to a builder who quoted them a lower price than what I could deliver. Fair enough. Sometimes price is all that matters. Problem is, I know that she will end up spending more than quoted and then she won’t be happy.

    Why? Simply because she was given the expectation of one thing, and she’ll experience another. Now, I could have led her to believe she could have everything on her wish list and stay within budget, but that would have ended with an unhappy client. I would have won the deal, but at what cost?

    I’ve also heard stories of people starting the building process with expectations that everything will go smoothly, contractors will show up on time and do their work without mistakes, and not much will go wrong during the process. Then, reality strikes.

    The concrete cracks, a window gets broken, the wrong color paint goes on the walls. All of a sudden, the building process turns into a nightmare. But the process simply is what it is—home building is the only manufacturing process that happens before your eyes, so you see the mess that gets made. (You’ve heard the analogy about making sausage, right?)

    If you don’t know what to expect, then even little problems are a surprise and can create stress. If someone had told you what to expect, then all those little things would just be part of the process.

    The building process—with all its warts—is the same in both scenarios. The only difference is expectations. Unfortunately, there are builders and sales people who just want to get the sale and aren’t worried about setting the right expectations. They’re afraid that if you know the truth, you’ll walk away. And you might. But it’s better that you walk away than become unhappy or even miserable because of unmet expectations.

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