Every new year, hordes of new members flood our gym. New sneakers, yoga pants, and track suits adorning the tender bodies that have been shaped by fast food and ergonomic cubicle chairs. They wander aimlessly, resolute to make changes, and yet beyond how to dress, they are clueless. I’m always happy to see new people wanting to make changes, but most of them give up before even learning a routine.

Picture of chicken.I hope you aren’t giving up on your resolutions.

Resolutions need to survive the frenzy of everyday life

The reason isn’t a secret. Keeping in shape means hard work, and it’s most difficult in the beginning stages. Results come slowly, and it’s difficult to maintain the enthusiasm sparked by a new year. What started as a promise to hit the gym 4 days a week drops to 2, and after an emergency at home or work, the 2 days are dropped just for one week. The resolutions that once fired us up are now threatened by the frenzy of everyday life.

If you want to know the secret to six pack abs, an ass you can bounce a coin off of, and wealth that can free you from a mundane job, it’s found in the moments when tired resolutions start to seem unimportant compared to the chaos of our lives. It’s not the first day in the gym that makes a difference, it’s every day after that. The best days are the ones when you’re exhausted from work and instead of letting your body decompress, you make it bench press.

Mental fitness takes exercise

Pushing yourself to new limits is always going to be uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the stronger you get. And it’s mental fitness that gives the biggest boost to health, wealth, and strength. Each time we break through mental barriers, our mental fitness grows, and all other results come rolling in. The euphoria that came with a new start will return. You’ll start seeing extra pounds melt away and come back as muscular glutes. Your debt will disappear and your 401k will start giving you a swagger.

There is an animal in all of us and now is the time to poke it with a stick.

A new life is waiting for you to turn those resolutions into a lifestyle

The secret to wealth isn’t hidden in a stock tip, and the secret to fitness isn’t in a diet pill. Quick fixes quickly fade, real changes come from making smart decisions a part of your lifestyle. They might seem like a pain in the butt at first, but once you start seeing the results, you won’t want to live any other way.

Crush that debt

Debt is the fat of the financial world. Spending which once felt good can leave you feeling hopelessly bloated. Anything with a high interest rate needs to go. Start making automatic extra payments, and stop buying crap.

If you find yourself overspending, just say to yourself, “I’m an angry fucking tiger, and angry tigers don’t like being bloated.”

Max out your 401k and automated investments

If you haven’t already done it, set your 401k to the max. It’s incredibly easy to increase spending levels, but it’s also easy to shrink it back down. The best way to start is by limiting the income you see – set up automatic investments to your 401k and brokerage accounts.

Picture of charted progress.The excitement of making a resolution will return with results.

Two things happen when you move your money streams over to automated savings. First, you put that cash to work earning interest and dividends. If you keep feeding those savings, they will keep growing, getting stronger, and one day they will be able to carry you. Second, keep money out of your checking account. Cash that sits in there will start looking more like a new car, laptop, or jet ski. You want your body churning out muscle instead of fat and you want your hard earned income turning into assets not liabilities.

Exercise your creativity

To reduce spending, you may need to sell your fancy car, and buy a used one for $5,000. Or maybe it’s time to cancel cable. Perhaps going out to bars and restaurants needs to be cut back. Instead of giving us richer and more fulfilling lives, a lot of these things make us fluffy, weak malcontents. It doesn’t take much creativity to spend money, and going to the same restaurant for the 50th time yields marginal additional happiness per dollar.

Picture of breakfast.Making delicious food can be quick an easy, but takes practice.

Exercise your creative muscles by learning to make incredible food at home for cheap. Anyone can buy expensive food or beer, but you aren’t a true connoisseur unless you know how to make it. For hundreds of years, rich folk have been stealing recipes derived from the creativity that goes into humble peasant food.

Figure out exercises that works for you, and do them every week

It can be tough getting in a workout, not just because we can be lazy, but also because most of us are so damn busy. That’s why when I go to the gym, I want to get the most bang for my buck. While cardio is important, I’ve found that the most efficient way for me to get results is lifting weights.

It’s better to work out 4 days a week, but at a minimum it needs to be 2 days. This way you can get in enough workouts so you aren’t constantly shocking atrophied muscles and are sore every week. You will keep adding onto the muscle gains, and once you get into a routine, things get easier and more enjoyable.

A workout reward system

Consider a reward system. I always have a set of chores or exercises that I need to get done in a week. I also love beer. If I don’t execute on the exercising, and leave too many chores undone, then no beers for me. I always get my beer.

If you made a resolution this year, it’s because you wanted to change something in your life. If you fell off the wagon, it’s time to get back up and get angry about it. You can either spend next January celebrating success or making another empty promise.