5 Surprising Life Lessons I Learned From Interviewing Thrive Challenge Winners
Every month, I have the pleasure of interviewing a handful of Thrive Challenge participants and writing their stories to celebrate their Thrive Challenge journey. The participants all start out with their own goals — from saving money, to getting active, to feeling more confident at work, or reconnecting to their loved ones. And while every conversation is meaningful and unique in its own way, I’ve noticed a few common threads that connect these winners to one another, no matter how different they are as individuals.
Here are a few powerful lessons I’ve learned from my conversations with Thrive Challenge Winners:
1. Starting small is key.
At Thrive, we swear by Microsteps — those too-small-to-fail tools that help us form lasting habits. And while there’s so much research behind the power of small steps, it is clear from talking to Thrive Challenge winners that in order to succeed, you have to start small. Kevin Lowe, a Walmart Team Lead in Hornell, New York, told me that his first step was simply setting an earlier alarm every morning — and he invited his coworkers to do the same. “We started by setting a 6:00 a.m. alarm to get outside every morning. We got a few of the associates to join us, and started doing laps around the park until it was time for work,” he told me. “Now, our morning routines have become more like adventures.”
2. Nighttime rituals shouldn’t be underestimated.
I am definitely someone who can work on unplugging at the end of a long day and taking some time for self-care. But one thing I’ve learned from Thrive Challenge winners is that when you do make that time, you’ll likely find improvements in your sleep, your productivity, and your overall mood. “I dim the lights, turn on my lavender oil diffuser, and wind down with some ‘me time,’” Rayann Pina, a Walmart customer in Virginia, told me. “I remove my Apple Watch, switch my phone on vibrate, and place it in my docking station across the room.” Rayann says her rituals help improve her mood and her energy at work the next day. “I feel more refreshed and relaxed.”
3. Tech breaks can invite space for so much more.
In one interview, Quanshatta Colson, a Walmart Customer Service Representative from North Carolina, shared with me that she wanted to spend less time online after work so that she could carve out time for a workout without distractions. Once she took that break from her phone, she found that she had more time and energy to spend with her 3-year-old. “I started putting away my phone to make time to exercise, and now that I have more energy, I can play with my daughter Lyric,” she told me. “It gave me the momentum to do more.”
4. When we feel our best, we can better connect with others.
So many Thrive Challenge Winners have found that when they get closer to their own goals, they find that their relationships also start to improve. “Since starting the Thrive Challenge, my coworkers tell me more about their day and personal lives,” Holly Green, a Walmart Vision Center Manager in Kansas City, shared. “I listen more than just talk.” Chatting with Holly about her new habits, it was clear to me that when we make changes to improve our own lives, they can often improve the lives of those around us. “Work is less stressful now,” she added, “not only for me, but for my whole department.”
5. It’s never too late to get started.
One of the aspects I love about interviewing is the diverse range of individuals I talk to, including people of all different ages. Randy Lane, a Maintenance Associate I interviewed from Utah, turned 70 this year. During our conversation, he told me his goal when starting the Thrive Challenge was all about longevity. “My wife and I have been married 46 years, and at the end of the day, I want to live a long life and be there for her,” he explained. After making swaps in the kitchen and switching up his daily routine, he was blown away by the changes he was able to make. He even inspired me to shift my own perspective on aging! “I have a much better chance of living a longer, healthier life with all my loved ones,” he told me. “Old dogs really can learn new tricks!”