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by Yaneer Bar-Yam
Step VIII: Promote "First Day" Celebrations

Through this program, Walmart provides the framework for employees to exercise their capabilities. Working alongside others to accomplish goals has a positive effect on what people can accomplish. Employees self-monitor their progress for several weeks, and are encouraged to make the improvements long term. Co-workers encourage one another to meet their goals. Walmart’s popular program has been a great success, helping many employees improve their lives.

This idea can be made into a national or global activity of personal and collective improvement. Aligning it with New Year’s celebrations is a natural thing to do.

The preceding week, employers and government agencies can provide information and events. Organizations of different types—companies, religious organizations, towns, states, schools, hospitals—can set up programs that encourage people to take responsibility for their own health and lifestyle, and they can provide supportive communities toward that end. The organizations themselves can undertake new commitments to improve social health and community well-being.

Some people may want their goals and commitments to be private or to share them with friends; others may be pleased to share them publicly. The key is for familiar institutions and networks to support each person’s desire to improve his or her life and each person’s journey toward better health.

Social network follow-up interactions can be planned. Internet-based and mobile device apps with calendars, reminders, and checklists can be developed to support people in reaching their goals.

We can dramatically improve health by inspiring individual responsibility and action. When people embrace their health as a personal opportunity and are also given community support, they reveal tremendous power to make lasting improvements in their own lives and each other’s.

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