Now’s the Right Time

resolutionsHappy New Year! As quickly as the calendar turns 2015, the questions begin.

“What’s your New Year’s resolution?”

We are conditioned to look for key moments. We want to use this key moment to reflect on the time that has passed, what we’ve done this year, and what we’ll do better next year, and we want this year to be as good as (or better than) the last.. And we’ve gotten so good at using the New Year to set goals for ourselves that the U.S. government even has a website dedicated to the most common goals.

Each year, January 1 brings out our eternal optimist. We want to make a change, and for many of us, this means a change to our well-being. In fact, 65 percent of U.S. adults make fitness-related New Year’s resolutions. This is the reason that gyms add more than 12 percent of their new members in January alone (approximately a 33 percent + increase in volume). And we all know how this winds up – the treadmill area that was overcrowded in January is empty by March. This is a symptom of a larger trend, which is that only 12 percent of resolution-makers succeed in achieving their New Year’s goal. (Yeah, really small number.)

So – are you looking to make a change this year? Great! Now is the right time to do it! No, wait…now is! No…now! The point is, you can change your behavior at any time. But in order to do it and stick to it, you have to have what Stanford-based behavior designer BJ Fogg refers to as B=MAT, which means that to change a behavior, you need the motivation (M), ability (A), and a trigger (T).

Motivation can come from many areas, and the amount of motivation can be low or high. Having the motivation be something that is pleasurable to you is key, though.

Let’s say that you take up an activity that you really enjoy. Combine this with the anticipation of doing this activity (so that you look forward to it), and add in a social element for the ultimate motivation, because the more you engage others in the process, the more likely you are to accomplish the goals you set for yourself.

What’s this really mean? Well, if you used to be a swimmer, odds are that you still look forward to jumping back in the pool and feeling great after a hard workout. If you want to up your success rate sticking to a swimming regime, add a friend who will join you. They’ll keep you honest about showing up, keep you going when you want to give up, and cheer you on each time.

water-runAbility can be influenced by a number of factors, but for many of us this boils down to time. If we don’t have the time to spend swimming, for example, but we want to improve our well-being, how can we do it? The answer is to make the desired behavior change as easy as possible. Can’t get to a pool? Okay, well how about throwing on your sneakers and going for a run before work or at lunch? Can’t do that? How about some walks around the office? Meditation when you have a few free minutes?

Make it as easy as possible on yourself to accomplish your goal, as you’re more likely to stick with it.

Triggers – without these, nothing happens. They tend to start simply. “Wow, I’m heavier than I used to be. Maybe I should go for a run.” The next day, you go out and run for five minutes. And because you have the motivation and ability to continue, you do. This opens up the door to accomplishing harder goals, like running a 10k or a marathon.

In short, New Year’s doesn’t have to be the defining moment in our change. If it causes a trigger that helps you change your well-being for the better, that’s an awesome thing. But if you didn’t make the deadline, or already missed a day in progress to your goal, then now’s the time to start again and remember your motivation, ability and trigger combination.

Still not convinced? Check out this recent blog post featuring simple, healthy ways you can stay healthy. The tips may tie to the holidays, but believe me – they’re applicable year-round.

Shawn LaVana is passionate about finding ways technology can change the way we work. At Virgin Pulse he works on the marketing team to create workforces that have the energy, focus, and drive necessary to fully engage in all aspects of life. On the weekends, you can find him running the soccer fields Clint Dempsey-style, at least in effort.

Prepping to Jump into 2015

dv1430005So, that’s it. The bulk of the holidays are over…for now. Remember that song in the claymation “Frosty the Snowman” movie that’s always so sad? You know, the one where Frosty sings, “Let’s have fun before I go…don’t you cry I’ll be back again some day…”? (I may or may not have watched all five Claymation movies last week.)

Well good news! Just like Frosty, the holidays will always return, and along with them the cheer, yummy food and extra time with loved ones (though, let’s make more time for them in 2015, eh?).

For most of us, this week will have a quieter office, or perhaps more home-time than we usually get. Sure, there’s still wrapping paper to recycle and maybe a few urgent work emails to send, but hopefully you can use this time as a reset. Remember downtime is important for you and your employees alike as they say farewell to 2014, and start preparing for a new year. In fact, 60% of surveyed employees say after some time away on vacation they feel totally recharged. And time for recharging makes for increased productivity when employees return to the job! It also makes for more motivated and happier employees.

Besides, when your workforce doesn’t take time for themselves, they become more stressed as they face challenges on the job day in and day out. And stressed employees are currently costing companies an average of $300 billion more per year, for healthcare, than on average, according to a Canadian survey on work-related stress. So is it really worth it to encourage your employees to take their paid time off? You bet.

FrostyAnd while you’re resting up –make sure to set aside some time to review the past year too while you’re making your list of goals for the future. Encourage your employees to do the same. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back, and take a moment to thank those in your life for their contributions to your successes as well. This can go a long way in making employees feel valued, and help them come back to work feeling renewed.

Want to read more on why it’s important for you and your employees to take time away from work to be refreshed? Read the survey, “A Little Time Away: How Relaxing and Recharging Drives Productivity” for more tips and insight on how a little downtime makes everyone more ready to roll when they get back (and how this impacts business –in a good way)!

Happy 2015 everyone! I’m excited to see what this year has in store. Cheers!

Margaux Novak, Marketing Communications Manager, manages public relations and social media at Virgin Pulse. Merging her knack for reading everything in sight with her slight risk-taker tendencies, she’s always up for trying out newly researched marketing campaigns. Apart from this, Margaux is an avid traveler, photographer, and publishing poet. Follow her on twitter: @margauxnovak

3 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season

yogaWe’re in the thick of the holidays, a tricky time to keep our well-being in check. Whether we’re making extra grocery runs for holiday parties (who else always forgets something?), balancing budgets after buying a few extra gifts (one for you, one for me… ok, not the best way to stay within my budget), or hitting the hay too late each night, one thing’s clear: we’re stressed. In fact, 80 percent of employees say they’re significantly more stressed during the holidays, according to a recent survey.

In my last post, I shared how our healthy routines can fall by the wayside during the holidays, which can be a wonderful yet tough time of year. If you’d like to make sure your workforce is able to be as healthy and productive as possible, be sure to help them keep their stress and health under control.

In the spirit of spreading good health and cheer, here are three easy things you can do in your workplace, plus three tips you can share with your employees to help them stay healthy and well, and inspire their loved ones to do the same.

  1. Don’t make the office a danger zone!

186755156At work:
Sixty-seven percent of adults don’t get enough fruits and 73 percent don’t get enough veggies, according to the CDC. Consider making some swaps to your office orders. Fill up those snack bins, vending machines and lunch orders you so kindly offer with plenty of fruit and veggie-based options. Encourage employees to bring in any healthy holiday party leftovers for others to enjoy, and create an environment where making the healthy choice is easy.

Tip for your team:
With holiday parties and gatherings galore, there’s likely no shortage of goodies and treats. Encourage employees to try out a few new healthy recipes this holiday season (maybe ones they’ve swapped with co-workers) and get the kids in on the fun! Or suggest they peruse Pinterest for lots of great healthy ideas on how to add a little more healthy, and fun, to their holiday dishes. For example, making a crudité platter? Help the kids arrange the veggies in the shape of a festive holiday tree or wreath!

  1. Give the gift of good health

At work:
It’s easy to skip exercise during the holidays, but why wait until the New Year to set a new fitness goal? Encourage colleagues to motivate one another and stay on track with a little healthy competition. Sponsor an activity challenge in your workplace during the season and give away some coveted healthy prizes – sleek new wearable fitness tracking devices, stylish new water bottles or gym bags, health club memberships, and more.

Tip for your team:
Consumer interest in wearable fitness devices is growing like crazy. Give your employees some ideas on how to spread the health themselves and give healthy gifts this season – the latest activity trackers, wireless smart scales, blenders for healthy smoothies, DVDs for home workouts, memberships to fitness classes they can take together (gifts of fitness and quality time!), moisture-wicking socks, etc. For the kids, classics like skates, bicycles, basketballs, footballs, activity-based video games and more will never go out of style.

  1. Get up, stand up!

At work:
Is a normal workday chock full of meetings? If so, take them beyond the boardroom. If the weather’s fine, hit the streets and walk around the block. If it’s frightful, walk around your office, up and down the stairs, or simply move around a conference room instead of sitting at a table if you can swing it. Or try creating areas where employees can plug in and stand up, or better yet move, while working. Consider how a few small environmental changes could help boost creativity and productivity, and relieve stress in your workplace.

Tip for your team:
Amp up the fun at your holiday parties! Make a festive playlist and encourage everyone to get up and dance. If that’s not your thing, think about taking a stroll through your neighborhood to go caroling or see all of the holiday décor (especially if you live near a house like this and have some Frozen fans in the family). Are any of your neighbors on their own or a bit lonely (those at work or those who live in your community)? Ask them to join your gatherings! Or to add a little more activity into your festive fetes, consider hosting a friendly game of kickball or touch football for all to enjoy.

Want more tips? Download and share this poster series featuring 12 easy tips your employees can feel great about following. Print them out, post them up and remind your people that their well-being’s important, both to them and to you, this holiday season and all year long.

Katie Tierney is Director of Marketing at Virgin Pulse where she leads marketing communications and public relations. One of Virgin Pulse’s original employees, Katie led efforts to create National Employee Wellness Month, a campaign that helps business leaders learn how companies are successfully engaging employees in healthy lifestyles. A pop culture champ and dance buff, Katie can usually be found busting a move in a Zumba class (or anywhere, really). Follow Katie on twitter: @k_tierney

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Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!

Virgin Pulse clients and members discuss how we change lives for good!