A popular goal-setting system is the SMART technique, an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely goals. Personal goals that can be broken down into small steps are far more likely to be achieved.
Applying the SMART technique brings clarity by turning vague, general resolutions (for example, traveling the world) into specific, well-structured plans (spending a month every year traveling, one continent each year).
Goals should be challenging enough to inspire, but not so challenging that they seem unattainable. Turning challenging long-term goals into an actionable plan makes it easier to focus on and to manage. For example, an actionable plan for losing 15 pounds in a year is to go to the gym twice a week.
Writing down a goal brings a sense of commitment to it. A Harvard Business study showed that people who write down their goals are three times more successful in achieving them than those who have goals but don't write them down.
Steve Kamb from NerdFitness.com created the concept of Epic Quest of Awesome, by setting a large list of goals in the style of a video game quest, with the motto "Level up your life." Each goal is one fifth of a "life level," but some greater goals are worth a whole level, due to their complexity. As of 2015, Steve has reached level 12 and claims that this system keeps him motivated.