DEAR HARRIETTE: Procrastination has essentially ruled my life. I love the adrenaline I get when I have a ticking deadline. Although I manage to get my projects submitted on time, I have come to realize it is not my best work. I’ve been procrastinating for half a century now. Is there any way to stop? I am never late on deadlines, but frequently I am disappointed in myself after submission because I know I could do better. -- Last Second, Jackson, Mississippi
DEAR LAST SECOND: Breaking bad habits is never easy, but it is possible. And procrastination is definitely a habit worth breaking!
For starters, you must decide for yourself that you deserve to achieve your fullest potential. You need to commit to an internal shift in order for you to stick to a new plan of action. To help yourself, begin by creating false deadlines that are a few days before the work is actually due. Complete the work, and then review it before you turn it in. That window of a few extra days can become extremely useful for fine-tuning and editing your work. This method allows you to still have the adrenaline rush because you have created a tight deadline for completion of your projects. Try this out for a month, and see if your work improves.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My cousin and I have been close for all my life. We are about the same age, and we go to the same college. We applied to all the same schools and even have the same major. It has been fun having her to share the college experience with.
This morning, I received a text message from my cousin asking me to write a research paper for her. She offered me compensation for this. I was stunned. I have never even thought about having someone else do my work. I warned her about plagiarism and that her academic integrity is being placed on the line. How can I get the point across that she should never try to get out of doing her own work? -- Not Your Words, Syracuse, New York
DEAR NOT YOUR WORDS: It is doubtful that you can change your cousin’s mind about her unethical behavior. What you can do is put your foot down and let her know where you stand. Have a sincere conversation with her. Talk about your life together and all the things that you have enjoyed together over the years. Remind her of how excited you both were when you got into the same college. Impress upon her how special you believe it is that the two of you are on this journey together. Then, tell her that you do not think it is honest or wise to blur the lines the way she has suggested. Tell her that you absolutely will not write a paper for her, and that you do not think this is a path she should travel. Urge her to dig in and do the work herself.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)