DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a serious procrastinator. I have been like this for as long as I can remember, but it is starting to catch up with me in bad ways. I was recently late on a project at work because I took too long to get started.
Worse than that, I waited too long to order a specific item that my daughter requested for Christmas, and it was sold out by the time I got around to it. My daughter doesn’t ask for much. I got her something else, but I felt horrible. Some of her friends had wish lists that were pages long. She had only two items on her list, and one was no longer available when I finally tried to buy it. How can I be better about prioritizing my time and efforts? -- End of Procrastination
DEAR END OF PROCRASTINATION: This is a mind-over-matter situation. Up to now, you haven’t been hurt badly enough to change. Even with the examples you gave, you still have your job, and your daughter still loves you. Imagine for a moment if you had lost both of them. How would you feel?
Regarding work, it could be easy for you to lose favor with your company and then find yourself earmarked as disposable. You need to make yourself as close to indispensable as possible. Do that by showing up to work early, completing your most difficult or time-consuming tasks first and leaving with a smile on your face. Keep track of your responsibilities by writing them down. You may want to set an alarm that reminds you of upcoming deadlines with enough lead time to get them done.
As far as your daughter is concerned, think about her feelings. She is mindful enough not to ask for the moon, even though she sees other kids doing that. Honor her discipline in the future by doing your best to secure what she wants most. This is true during holiday times, but also in general. Pay attention to her, hear what she needs and be responsive. No more delays.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve noticed some extreme emotional comments on social media recently from people I don’t know well. I can tell that they are in emotional distress, but I’m not sure what I can do to help. Here’s where social media is weird: You call people your friend, but that doesn’t mean they actually are. I don’t want to get tangled up in a virtual stranger’s issues, but when I see a cry for help, I do feel like I should do or say something. What do you think? -- Cry for Help
DEAR CRY FOR HELP: One of the features that I like about social media is that people send out an SOS, and others will receive it. When you notice that someone is in distress, I think it’s right to say something. If a person seems suicidal, you can send them the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. You can add a personal note of encouragement, but you do not have to attempt to go to the person’s house to help sort things out, for example.
If a person is in need of financial support, you may see that they post a crowdfunding campaign. If you have the resources, you may want to make a donation. Even a few dollars can be helpful to a person in dire financial straits. Even more, seeing your name as a donor will brighten their spirits.
It doesn’t cost anything to tell a person you will pray for them or keep them in your thoughts, but that simple gesture often means a lot for someone who is in an extreme emotional state.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)