Goal Setting Infograph

Check out this infograph about goal-setting and new year resolutions. It is possible to live insanely great this year, but you’ll need to make some real decisions. I’ll share with you in a follow up article how I’m implementing all of the tips below with my goals this year. So far, so good!


Set goals for you alone.
Don’t try to do too much too fast.
Write your goal down.

new years resolution

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Essential Ideas On How To SURVIVE Your First Semester of College

This is Part Two of our featured article about how to prepare and survive your first year of college. Written by our Teen Identity alumni Sarah Graham!

Now that you’re all prepared and stuff… how do you SURVIVE? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you that too..

One thing that I like, is to have pictures up. They make me feel more at home. I have them on a ribbon board (cute, and space-saving), on my closet doors, and in various picture frames.

Pro-tip: Walmart.com does super inexpensive printing and delivery if you want to order some photos of you with your family or new college friends. Other places that do this are Walgreens, CVS, and other pharmacies. Walmart is just my personal preference.

Another thing I like to do is call my mom every week. It’s great to hear from family, and believe me, they miss you. A LOT. Keeping your parents up-to-date with your grades and your life is a great way to make them feel more comfortable with you being away, especially if you’re out of state. You don’t have to call every week. You don’t even have to call, really, but be sure to send a text or an email every so often if you don’t want to call.

Also, make friends with the girls in your hall. If you want to, rushing a sorority is an option for making friends and getting involved on campus. So are other groups and organizations based on interest, beliefs, religion, etc. You don’t have to join a sorority though. I didn’t, and I’m doing perfectly fine.

As far as food goes, meal plans are expensive. You probably don’t need the “unlimited” plan. I have 14 meals per week at the dining halls on campus, and I’ve never run out. It just depends on how many times you want to eat there (believe me, you’ll get tired of the dining halls after a month or so).

When it comes to your classes, don’t take a crazy amount of hours just to rack up the credits. You’ll end up slacking off in the ones you don’t care about. Also, be absolutely sure you make time for doing your homework and studying. Cramming at the last minute may seem like a good idea at the time, especially if there’s something fun going on during the weekend, but you’re going to need that information later, so cramming is a BAD idea. As long as you’re studying for an hour or so per day for each class, depending on your learning style and your classes, you should be fine. I have faith in you, don’t worry.

If you ever have any questions, ask your RA (resident assistant). RA’s are there to help you, especially as freshmen. You’re not expected to know everything.

You’re a freshman. Relax. Have fun! You’re only young once.

Tips on How to Prepare for Your First Semester of College

One of our Teen Identity alumni, Sarah Graham, just completed her first year of college. Yay! Sarah wanted to share her tips for teens on how to prepare for the first semester of college. If you’re a teen, are the parent of a teen or know one heading off to college, give them the scoop because chances are they are stressing out!

Okay, so as a senior in high school, you’ve probably taken the SAT at least once, and now you’re applying to colleges. You desperately hope to make it into your top choice, but
you’ll tolerate your number two choice if you don’t. No biggie, you can always transfer later.

“Wait a second. I’m not ready for this,” you might be thinking. Don’t worry; I’ve got some tips for you to prepare for college.

First of all…if you’re a junior, take the SAT. This will give you plenty of time to take it again if you (or maybe your parents) are not quite satisfied with your score. Personally, I took the SAT twice: once in January of my junior year, and once in April. Then, after a couple college visits over the summer before my senior year, I decided I wanted to attend Georgia Tech, with UGA as my next choice.

If you have a good GPA and have already taken the SAT (or the ACT, if you prefer that), you should consider applying early to college, fall of senior year. You have fewer essays to write that way, which is always nice. Apply to several colleges. I applied to two, but I wish I had applied to more, just for fun. If you need to rely more on your extracurricular activities and work experience and leadership positions, apply during the regular time in the spring of your senior year.

All right, so you’ve done all that, and you got accepted to your top choice! Congratulations! That’s awesome! Now what…?

Well, after confirming your acceptance, you’ll eventually have to send in your grades from your second semester of senior year…so DO NOT slack off. This is the WORST thing you could do at this point. So that’s finished. Yay. I started college in the summer after my senior year. This was the best decision of my life. I got a leg up on the competition. I met new people, I became familiar with the campus, and I was able to get used to living the dorm life. Also, because summer is much more relaxed and nowhere near as stressful as the regular school year, I was able to start my fall semester with a 4.0, which REALLY helps.

Here’s what you should bring during your first semester of college:

Shower caddy & flip-flops
Summer/fall clothes
Laundry detergent
Hand sanitizer
Trash bags
Storage bins
Silver/plastic/Tupper ware

Coffee maker
More clothes
Picture frames
A few movies
Iron/ironing board

Too many extra pillows
Bulky clothes (at least until after
fall break, typically)
Stereo system
High school paraphernalia
(including that letter jacket)
Reading-for-pleasure books
(you won’t have room…or time)
Nick-nacks (they just take up
space & get dusty)
Non-resealable foods

Check back for part two of Preparing for College!

Alternative Beauty That Goes Beyond Skin Deep

Article #3 in the guest post series by Imahni. Make sure to read why “Conventional Beauty Products are Health Hazards” and “Alternative Hair Products That Really Work.”

We all want that healthy glow to our skin. There are so many products out there that were created for the sole purpose of helping us achieve that glow. However, many of these products aren’t actually helping you out. In fact, for many people they are worsening the problem. What happens when your skin becomes even more dull or unhealthy? You buy more products to cover it up. Are you benefiting from this cycle or are the cosmetic companies?

Your body produces this natural, healthy glow on its own! However, the glow that we love so much is described as “healthy” because you have to be healthy to get it. It is possible for your skin to be soft, smooth, bright, blemish-free, and glowing without makeup! This can be achieved through drinking water, lots of sleep (7-9 hours), clean foods (vegetables, fruits, nuts, organic meats, etc.), nutrient supplements, healthy cosmetics and/or homemade remedies.

The key is consistency and nourishing the skin. It takes a few weeks (give or take) as your skin recovers and heals itself.

Healthy Cosmetics/Homemade Remedies:

Soap: Conventional soap tends to dry out the skin, and since your skin absorbs what you put it on it, it will absorb all those chemicals that you rub into it. Washing your face and body is often done in a hot shower, which opens up your pores, increasing absorption. In short, what you use to cleanse your skin is a big deal.

Enter, Dr. Bronner’s Fair Trade Organic Soap! This soap is amazing. Not only is it healthy and fair trade, but it never strips your skin of natural oils. There is no need for different soaps for body and face. I use it on all of my skin. It’s also a personal favorite with the rest of the family.

Note: There are many people who choose not to use soap when they bathe or shower and this is perfectly fine! Your body does not naturally stink. Just like with washing your hair, you may experience a transition period, but it will pass. Those who regularly do not use soap and are living a healthy lifestyle don’t stink. Really!

However, most of us still prefer some type of soap anyways, my family included. Dr. Bronner’s is perfect for this because it’s so gentle.

Facial Toner: A toner helps tighten and shrink pores, while cleansing. To make this, simply create a 50/50 mix of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and water. Then use it like a regular toner. It works even better than conventional toner! Don’t be scared away by the smell of vinegar, it does not remain on your skin!

Moisturizer/Lotions: Moisturizing is very important for your skin! For the face, I prefer jojoba oil because it’s very light. For a moisturizing mask, use some raw honey (preferably organic, but it works either way) and rub into your skin. Allow it to sit for maybe twenty minutes and then wash off. Not only is honey moisturizing, it’s also naturally antibacterial.

Application: In applying a daily moisturizer, I’ve found that my skin looks really greasy if I put on straight oil – even just a few drops of light Organic Jojoba Oil. However, my skin still really needs the daily moisturizing.

Instead of applying it like lotion that I leave on, I’ll add a couple drops of jojoba oil to the soap I pour in my hand and massage it into my skin. Then any excess oil comes off when I rinse. Other days, I may just wash my face with plain Dr. Bronner’s and then wash my face with plain honey immediately following. (The second routine works great for when I have makeup on too! Dr. Bronner’s takes off the makeup and the honey nourishes the skin.)

Lip Balm: Honey! It creates this lovely sheen similar to lip gloss and you don’t have to worry about it getting in your mouth!

Acne-prone skin: Anyone who struggles with acne will probably read this and say, “But I can’t just go all natural because I have to use the acne medicated soaps.” I had really struggled with acne for years, but I was able to heal my skin by going natural. A lot of those acne products are really harsh on your skin. Don’t seek to merely clear up acne, but by healing your whole body, your acne can be healed too. As a teen, I now know what it feels like to wake up in the morning to clean, clear skin. It’s absolutely amazing.

Alternative Hair “Products” That Really Work

Article #2 in the guest post series by Imahni. Make sure to read why “Conventional Beauty Products are Health Hazards.”

Did you know some of the best beauty products are the cheapest and most undervalued?

They are also probably sitting in your fridge or pantry. In truth, unless you’re consistently using a lot of product on your hair, it doesn’t even need to be washed. Your scalp naturally secretes just enough oil to nourish your hair without making it greasy.

However, if you choose to go completely without washing your hair (no alternative products either) it may take a couple weeks before your scalp secretes the right amount of oil again. When you were using all those harsh hair products, your body had to create a lot more oil in order to replenish the hair. This balance needs to be reestablished. The time is different for everyone as some people don’t even experience that transition. If you do have to undergo that rather awkward stage these natural products will make the transition from conventional products to none at all much smoother.

In general, these recipes will also provide your hair with extra nutrients regardless of whether or not your main goal is to “clean.”

Here are some simple recipes for creating your own alternative hair products:

Shampoo: Using 1 cup of water for every 1 tbsp. of baking soda, combine the ingredients and shake or stir until the baking soda is dissolved. Shampoo by massaging the scalp (which is where product and oils build up). Rinse with water.

Tip: Depending on your hair, it may feel a bit coarse after using the baking soda. Follow up with the ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar – ideally organic) rinse if that’s you. (If that’s not you, you might as well follow up with ACV anyways because your hair will really benefit regardless!)

Conditioning Rinse: Rinsing your hair with 50/50 combination of Apple Cider vinegar and water makes your hair smooth and shiny and helps balance your hair’s Ph levels. The smell is gone after it’s rinsed out. One large bottle of Organic ACV is less than $6 at a health food store and it’ll last much longer, provide less toxins, and greater benefits than the small bottle of designer shampoo you may be currently using.

Deep Condition: Massage scalp with a beaten egg yolk(s) and let it sit for a while before rinsing. You can also deep condition by massaging the scalp with oil(s) and leaving it in for  a while for a while before rinsing.

Shampoo for Oily Hair: Mix together a beaten egg yolk and some of the baking soda shampoo. Massage scalp with mixture and work through hair. Put it on at the start of your shower so you can leave it on while you do everything else, then your hair can really soak up the nutrients. This leaves your hair feeling super soft and feathery. The egg binds to the oil so when you rinse out the mixture they come out together. Tip: Whenever using egg on your body, always use cold water to rinse it out. Hot water can cook the egg and make a mess.

Styling Product: Oil. Some use coconut oil (which many Indian women swear by), olive oil, jojoba oil or argan oil. I personally prefer jojoba oil because it’s very light and doesn’t make my hair too heavy or greasy, but it still gives my hair some body and tames frizz. The thing to remember about oil is that a little bit goes a long way.

Isn’t It Weird?

Okay, I know you may be thinking, isn’t it weird to put eggs or vinegar on your hair? Perhaps, given society’s definition you may be right.

However, I think it’s time to reframe that.

  • It SHOULD be weird to put ingredients on your hair and scalp that you don’t know or understand.
  • It SHOULD be weird to spend money on products that are known carcinogens, toxins and allergy-causing.
  • It SHOULD be weird to spend a significant amount of your budget on “beauty” products when you can use less expensive, more natural products to enhance rather than hide or mask your natural beauty.

Just a thought. What do you think? Are you willing to give any of these options a go?

We read and researched using the following books and definitely recommend picking up a copy and doing some research yourself!

No More Dirty Looks: The Truth about Your Beauty Products–and the Ultimate Guide to Safe and Clean Cosmetics

The Green Beauty Guide: Your Essential Resource to Organic and Natural Skin Care, Hair Care, Makeup, and Fragrances

Eco-Beautiful: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Beauty and Wellness

Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products and What’s at Stake for American Power

Toxic Beauty: How Cosmetics and Personal-Care Products Endanger Your Health… and What You Can Do About It

Tyra Banks Speaks On Today’s Modeling Industry

In an open letter to models featured in the Daily Beast, Tyra Banks speaks out on today’s modeling industry saying, “The truth is that if I was just starting to model at age 17 in 2012, I could not have had the career that I did. I would’ve been considered too heavy. In my time, the average model’s size was a four or six. Today you are expected to be a size zero. When I started out, I didn’t know such a size even existed.”

News of these unhealthy requirements shouldn’t come as a surprise to the general public since there has been a lot of backlash towards the industry about too-skinny models and eating disorders. All of this bad press has paid off apparently as the standards for models are changing, though perhaps slowly.

Proof of this improvement was shown when earlier this May, 19 international editors of Vogue magazine pledged to abstain from featuring models who are under 16 years of ageor appear to have an eating disorder.

Banks, 38, describes her beginning years in the industry, “In my early 20s, I was a size four. But then I started to get curvy. My agency gave my mom a list of designers that didn’t want to book me in their fashion shows anymore. In order to continue working, I would’ve had to fight Mother Nature and get used to depriving myself of nutrition.”

The model states that the the support of her mom, Caroline, was what made the biggest difference saying, “As my mom wiped the tears from my face, she said, ‘Tyra, you know what we’re going to do about this? We’re going to eat pizza.’ We sat in a tiny pizzeria in Milan and strategized about how to turn my curves into a curveball.”

This is the kind of attitude toward their health that women and girls everywhere should take up! Tyra writes of how this has impacted her life, “In a way, it was my decision not to starve myself that turned me into a supermodel, and later on, a businesswoman.”

She also created a new term that helps women and girls embrace their beauty,

“It’s you + your flaws + awesome = ‘flawsome’ . . .

Never forget that you are fabulous,

you are fierce, you are flawsome.”

How to Accelerate Your Life

Are you where you want to be? Do you know how to get there? Have you questioned if you have what it takes to live the life you imagine?

Get yourself a coach!

I’ll refrain from all the sports analogies about greatness refined and accelerated at the hands of a coach, but they’re true.

What I will tell you is that if you have somewhere you want to go and are finding that you’re not getting there… a coach can make all the difference.

Throughout my life and career, I’ve had coaches in various forms. Without fail, those stretches of time when I had someone in my corner, are some of the most productive, fulfilled, and successful in my entire life.

I’ve seen it from both sides of the coin… being a coach myself and being coached by someone else. Even if you have the skills to coach others, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a coach as well! In fact, I’d say if you are at the level of coaching others and don’t have a coach of your own… what are you doing?!? It’s like not drinking your own lemonade!

All that to say, consider seeking out a coach.

As I mentioned before, I was honored and privileged to be chosen for Class Zero of Chair Co, a professional development and coaching organization that will “help people align who they are with what they do.” John Saddington (aka tentblogger) is in the business of accelerating people and despite the short time I’ve been part of this alpha test class, the results are truly incredible.

Focus. Clarity. Vision. Drive. Execution.

That’s what I’ve gained and where I’m headed. 2012 is shaping up to be even more than I imagined.

I couldn’t resist sharing with you… look into it, consider getting a coach, someone to help you accelerate your ideas, your dreams, your life.

You’re worth it.

3 Sitting Myths & 13 Alternatives Everyone Should Know

Myth: An ergonomic chair will change everything.
Truth: It’s the sitting, not the chair.

Myth: Exercising before and after work counteracts the effects of sitting all day.
Truth: Sitting is an independent risk factor for heart disease (according to Peter Katzmarzyk, a lead researcher at Pennington Biomedical Research Center).

Myth: Sit up straight (like your mother told you).
Truth: Sitting at a semi-recline 135 degree angle is best for you.

I can give you the facts, straighten out the myths, but if you don’t act, NOTHING WILL CHANGE.


  1. Read (or reread) yesterday’s article 5 Little Known Facts About Sitting That Could Kill You.
  2. Write down or type the points that stand out to you… that will move you to act.
  3. Print them out and post them in plain view… on your computer, in front of it, somewhere obvious.
  4. Set a reminder or alarm on your calendar at the beginning of every workday to remind you to read the list.
  5. When you see the alarm, read the list, and decide what you’re going to do that day to make a change.


  1. Get a pre-made standing desk. (Web designer Nick Haskins found his at Ikea.)
  2. Make your own standing desk. (Photographer Gary Chapman made his out of plastic milk crates.)
  3. Set up a treadmill running desk. (Perfect use for that treadmill sitting unused in your garage!)
  4. Replace your chair with a stability ball. (Side effect: works your core and back muscles.)
  5. Do your work at Starbucks, Barnes & Noble or other location with tall tables.


  1. While standing, bounce up and down on your toes.
  2. Do calf raises.
  3. Point and flex your toes (ballerina style) to the front, side and back.
  4. Periodically raise your arms above your head and stretch to the ceiling.
  5. Take an hourly break to rebound on a trampoline for 5 minutes.
  6. Use a small cup for water, tea, or coffee and refill it every time it’s empty.
  7. If you work at home, give yourself a small house cleaning task every hour.
  8. Stand during phone calls or when watching videos.

Have other ideas or strategies that have worked for you? Let me know in the comments!

5 Little Known Facts About Sitting That Could Kill You

I’m a writer, photographer, designer. I spend most of my day in front of the computer. In fact, I get so lost in my work at times that I can be designing or editing, look up at the clock and 3 hours will have gone by without me noticing. Ever happen to you?

Well, it’s killing us. Literally.

You may have seen the Sitting is Killing You infograph on multiple blogs, maybe even scanned the fascinating information, then promised yourself to make a change. Did you change?

Probably not. I didn’t.

I saw this infograph, downloaded it and saved it in Evernote on July 24th. It’s now December and I admit that while I remembered the infograph and how bad sitting was for me, I haven’t changed anything.

So here are 5 little known facts you may not have read. Tomorrow I’ll share some simple steps you can take to prevent these issues from killing you!

Sitting is Killing You

!!! Sitting 6+ hours per day increases risk of death up to 40% (even if you exercise)

!!! Your body goes into meltdown the moment you sit down.

!!! Enzymes that help break down fat drop 90% when you are sitting.

!!! 30 minutes of activity a day is NOT ENOUGH.

!!! Calorie burning drops to 1 per minute (the same as when you’re sleeping).

Aargh! What do we do? Feels like a no-win situation. We have to sit for our jobs… or do we?

Tomorrow we’ll cover some tips for how you can reverse or prevent sitting from killing you. Until then, take a look at this infograph… really read every section. It’ll inspire and prepare you for change!


3 Steps to Designing with the Future in Mind

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You know how a certain company always seems to create things you never knew you needed?

You’re going about your daily business and out of nowhere you see, hear, or read about something that scratches an itch or meets a real need you didn’t even realize you had.

That’s designing with the future in mind.

That’s where you and I want to be… whether it’s designing products for millions of people or simply designing a life for a small family.

How do we get there?

Based on books I’ve read, research I’ve done, experts I’ve interviewed, here are 3 steps to designing with the future in mind:


I know you’ve heard this before. But this time I want you to actually ACT on what you know. Write down the end of the story. Finish before you start… at least in your mind. Did you know that athletes/dancers receive almost as much benefit from envisioning their craft and performance as they do from actual practice? Why not start radically envisioning your future… whether that future is next week, next month or 10 years from now?


Stolen from the Steve Jobs playbook. Seriously. We are an ADHD and Facebook culture that can’t stay focused on the same thing for more than a few seconds or minutes. Well, actually we can but we have to develop the skill and muscle to make it happen. Not only must you manage your focus minute by minute, but you must also be selective about where your attention is directed. If you’ve got the end in mind start creating the path that will lead you there and don’t get lost on the way to where you want to go.


Even if you’re not a designer, you can design a future, a life, a book, a blog, a photograph, or a product. We do it all the time, whether we plan it out or not. So why not plan so that you can end up seeing what you have only ever imagined. Develop some design discipline. It takes some serious muscle to get yourself to envision a plan, write it down and stay focused on it, but you’re more than capable. I know you are. Now you just have to believe it… and DO IT!

Here’s the future-minded design that inspired this article!