Do a hassle audit

What I mean by hassle is anything that causes annoyance, slows us down or in any way reduces our quality of life. And, by an audit, I mean a means of weighing up the hassles we face, considering the impact they have on us and trying to do something about them. I am not proposing any sort of formal measurement system, just a listing of those things that give you hassle, a consideration of how significant each of these is and then some thought given to what, if anything, you can do about them.

My career has involved me in helping people address problems and concerns that they are up against. This has often led to situations in which people describe to me what ails them and what is bothering them, and I respond by saying words to the effect of: ‘So, what are you going to do about it?’. The reactions to that question can be very interesting. Often it would be a look of surprise, as if to say: ‘Why didn’t I think of that? – as if it had not occurred to them that there might be a solution to their problem. This would usually be from people who are so bogged down in their problems that they have lost sight of any possible solutions; they survive by adapting to their circumstances, rather than trying to tackle them. Defeatism and cynicism can quickly set in when people are under a great deal of pressure, particularly if they had a generally negative outlook on life to begin with.

Another common reaction would be to simply say: ‘There’s nothing I can do’. When, in response to that, I would propose various steps they could potentially take, there was almost always a reason why they could not do any of them; each of them seemed to be more hassle than it was worth. This would then lead into a discussion about which hassles were worse and what could be done about each of them. In effect, it was a process of choosing your hassles – which are you prepared to put up with and which are you not (something we do very frequently, of course, even if we don’t realise that we are doing it). It comes back to the basic idea that there are always choices, and choices have consequences. A hassle audit can help to make any such choices informed choices.

But it isn’t just problems that can benefit from a hassle audit. Sometimes we can be enthused about a particular project or opportunity and sign ourselves up for it without considering the downside, the actual or potential hassles involved. Is what you are hoping or trying to do worth the hassles involved? It is so very easy for the excitement in some situations to blinker us to the hassle costs involved. So, before you let your enthusiasm get the better of you, think through what hassles you might be letting yourself in for. Of course, there will be many times when the benefits outweigh even a whole host of hassles, but it is better if we are aware of what we are letting ourselves in for, as it is certainly not the case that positives will outweigh the negatives.

Life is not, of course, a hassle-free zone and never will be, but, with a thoughtful approach to hassles, we are better equipped to keep them to a minimum.