A few months ago, I wasn’t feeling good. I was eating fast food almost everyday and my social anxiety was at an all time high. I started working at Walmart and it was hard for me to even talk to co-workers because they already had friend groups. The smallest things would make me anxious, like going to the mall asking for help in a store. I’m only 18, but I was sluggish and unmotivated. I really wanted more energy and more confidence.

My team lead, Sasha, told me about the Thrive Challenge.

It turned out to be exactly what I needed. My first Microstep was walking 1000 steps a day around my neighborhood, which has a lot of hills. Honestly, the first time I walked I was exhausted. On day six or seven I started to notice I had way more stamina. Now, I’m walking or running every day for over a mile. My body doesn’t feel stiff anymore. I feel more level-headed; I’m able to calm myself down.

I stopped drinking soda and power drinks.

Now I only drink water. I started cooking. I find simple recipes on TikTok. The other night I made grilled salmon with mashed potatoes and asparagus. It was the first time I’ve cooked or eaten fish — and it was great. I really enjoy vegan pizza, and I love salads. I make fruit salad with green apples, melon, berries, and grapes. My skin feels clear and I have more energy. I still have a sweet tooth so I do sometimes eat Sour Patch Kids!

My family encourages me and won’t let me quit.

I live with my father and stepmother and three of my sisters, Destiny, Mikayla, and Nova. My other sisters, Jasmine and Marquida, have moved out. We have a gym in our house, and I do cardio on the treadmill and lift weights. I listen to music like Adele or Rod Wave and Lil Baby. I played football in high school so getting back to working out is making me feel good again. 

I’m more engaged at work.

I’m having conversations with my co-workers in the break room and we talk about what we can do to support each other as a team. I already feel part of a family. And I’m connecting with my family. I have great conversations with my sisters. We get together every weekend; we play basketball and go swimming. 

My girlfriend, Ayana, and I feel much closer on a spiritual and emotional level. 

We’ve started going to church together. We talk about our feelings instead of getting mad at each other or holding it all inside. We also like to sit outside in my backyard reading the Bible together. We talk about our goals and encourage each other. She wants to be a neonatal nurse. I want to get a degree in financial management through Walmart. I’d like to be an accountant for Walmart one day.

I came up with a good way to save money.

At the beginning of the month I pay all my bills. Then I take 75 percent of my check and put it into a savings account in another bank. If the money’s not available on my debit card, I just can’t spend it! Doing my Thrive Money Microsteps has changed my life. Putting money away every month makes me feel way more secure. I have way more discipline and I’m not as tempted by things like games, clothes, and shoes. 

Thrive Microsteps are helping me sleep better.

I power off my phone as soon as I get home from work. I read positive books instead of being on my phone. Right now I’m reading Think and Grow Rich by Greg Habstritt and Napoleon Hill. When I go to bed I put my phone away in the drawer of my nightstand. I’m sleeping eight to nine hours a night and I feel way better in the morning. 

My dad told me everything is possible if you strive towards it. 

I tell myself that every day. I also say other affirmations like: “I’m going to be positive today,” and “I’m saving enough to buy the car I want, a Dodge Challenger, by the end of the year.” 

Thrive has taught me how to stay motivated even when I’m in a slump.

I feel more productive and happier.

Deontay Brooks, Walmart Supercenter #618, Hiram, GA; $5K Winner