The vast majority of Americans will make an effort to improve themselves by making New Year's resolutions over the next month. A large portion of these resolutions will likely be to lose weight or get in better shape. Unfortunately, after only a few short weeks, most will fail. Why do so many people with such good intentions fail so quickly? Here are 5 reasons why New Year's resolutions fail and how you can avoid them.

It’s not specific

When making a goal, it's important that the goal is specific, so failure and success are easily measurable. To make your resolution to "lose weight" is simply not specific enough and it sets you up to fail from the start. Try being more specific with your goal. For example, setting a goal of losing six pounds by March 1st is much more specific, both in amount of weight lost, and in time measured. With a specific goal, you can measure success and develop a path to success.

There’s no plan

Unfortunately, many goal setters don't determine how they'll reach their New Year's resolution. A resolution without a plan is just a dream. Figure out a step-by-step process that will help simplify your goal and make it attainable. A good plan might be to tell yourself you're going to run one mile three times per week and only eat out once per week.

It’s not realistic

Imagine starting a business and telling yourself on day one that you needed to make a million dollars a year in profits. That would be pretty daunting, and it would most likely cause you to burn out quickly. It's ok to dream big, but it's also important to keep your goal realistic so there isn't an overwhelming feeling of constant underachievement. When it comes to weight loss, try to set a goal that is both realistic and healthy. Instead of trying to drop 20 pounds in the first month, try setting a weight loss goal that you have a better chance of achieving so you stick with it longer. A healthy amount of weight loss can vary depending on your current weight, so speak to a professional for advice.

It’s not known

Many who set resolutions keep them to themselves, out of fear of embarrassment if they fail. Instead of keeping your resolution a secret, try telling friends and family about your resolution. This will create a sense of accountability that will drive you to reach towards your goal. It is important to mention, however, that you may want to think about those who you're sharing your goal with. If a person you know tends not to be very supportive, they may not be the best person to share your goal with.

There’s no reward

It's important to reward yourself when you reach certain milestones with your resolution. By rewarding yourself, you're giving yourself something to look forward to if you reach the next milestone. However, if you have a weight loss resolution, remember to reward yourself with things that aren't food. Using food as a reward sets you up to fall off the wagon. Instead, use other forms of reward like getting a massage or buying a new outfit. These rewards will make you feel good and motivated for the next milestone without ruining your goals.

Now that you know what it takes to succeed this year, sit down for a moment and take notes of what your specific, realistic goal is going to be, how you’re specifically going to reach it, and how you’re going to reward yourself when you knock it out of the park. Make 2019 the year you finally break through and accomplish your New Year’s resolution.

Brian Maher, BS, CSCS, is the owner of Philly Personal Training, a Philadelphia-based studio offering personal training, physical therapy, and nutrition counseling.