In my past job, I was working 14-hour shifts. I was a workaholic and didn’t take care of myself. I was eating fast food and I wasn’t feeling good. On the weekend, I’d be reclusive and shut myself off from the world. I didn’t spend time with my girlfriend, Kailey, or my family. My family’s my support system, but I’d miss celebrations, holidays, and graduations. I wanted to be present with them — to eat a slice of birthday cake with my family — but I was always working, and it really hurt my mom. 

I wanted to work for a company that cares about work life balance. 

I relocated to Nashville and found the work culture I was looking for at Walmart. My sister Lauren lives close by, which is nice because we’re very close. Then In January, my co-worker, Shawanda Hunter, inspired me to start the Thrive Challenge. She’s taken the Challenge multiple times and she’s living, breathing proof that it works. 

I like the way you set yourself small goals that are easy to achieve. 

And it’s great to see how many individuals are taking steps to live better lives. I thought, “Who’s to say I can’t do that too?”

I’m 25 now, and when I was younger I enjoyed running, so I started again. 

I began with 10 minutes on the treadmill. Who doesn’t have 10 minutes? I hadn’t worked out for a while so I had to build my endurance, but I’m now up to four miles a day. And I’ve added weight lifting to the mix. I’ve started to feel better about myself. I look at my reflection and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.

I’m more present with Kailey and we’re bonding.

We take my dog, Mac, for walks in nature. We go to Chattanooga where there’s a 14 mile river walk. It’s very beautiful with waterfalls. There’s nothing like the wind in your face and the sun on your skin to make you feel good. I definitely prefer it to sitting in a dark room watching T.V. 

Kailey and I both love cooking.

It’s a team effort. We’ll chop up squash, mushrooms, jalapeños, and peppers and throw in shrimp and scallops with red sauce. It’s our “go-to” dinner. I find slicing and dicing veggies therapeutic. I’ve burned a few steaks, but Kailey always says everything is delicious even if it’s charred! 

Growing up, my mom always made sure we had a good meal on the table.

I like to cook for her now, and she enjoys it. It’s rewarding to give back to the support system that gave so much to me. My mom and my dad have relocated to Florida, and unfortunately their home in Sanibel was hit by Hurricane Ian. So when we’re together with my brother and sister, we talk about the progress they’re making rebuilding it, and how we can help. 

I’m learning Spanish, and I thoroughly enjoy the mental challenge. 

I’m happy I have the time to continue my education. I want to keep expanding my life instead of zoning out, and my goal is to get a master’s degree in business. To relax, I like to read. I’m big into sci-fi and horror. Right now, I’m reading a great time-travel thriller called Recursion by Brian J. Walton. 

I love being part of a work family — helping others to succeed.

It’s not just about me now. Mentorship is important to me. I always tell people I’m training, “If you’re going through something hard, just remember you have a support team behind you. And if you don’t find the answer you need, feel free to ask me.” We’ll get new managers coming in straight out of school. One person was very quiet and shut off. I talked to him about the importance of communicating. I told him, “This is your time to shine; give it your all.”

I’m more focused at work, but my job doesn’t define me.

I’m a big people person, and I make time to be with people I love. I don’t live to work anymore — I work to live, and I can honestly say that I’m extremely happy.

— Daniel Wagganer, HVFC #4124, Lebanon, TN; $5K Winner