I talked about the importance of relevancy at length during the #GoalWorkshop, but it's so important that I feel it's worth repeating, briefly and simply.
In my interpretation of SMART, relevant means in line with my larger objective. It's what sets the framing motivation, which bootstraps initial excitement and serves as a constant reminder of why I'm doing something.
Why is such a powerful motivator that whole books have been written on it. Why ultimately caters to your emotional side, and a strongly resonating why can carry you through your toughest periods of doubt.
But if a reason doesn't resonate with you—if you're simply going through the motions because you think it's expected of you—you're setting yourself up to fail. If you don't "get" it, you won't put in the exceptional effort it takes to change.
This is a huge source of frustration for those with a loved one in need of a behavioral shift. You can't simply tell them to do it. You can't expect them to commit to drastically different behavior as a result of a purely rational conversation. They have to feel it, internalize it.
How a person comes to that feeling varies from person to person. Sometimes it's a dramatic life event. Sometimes it's by hitting rock bottom. Sometimes—rarely—enough loved ones can come to together to convince them there's a problem (which is a type of dramatic life event). Sometimes it can happen through gradual coaxing—showing them what's possible, and gradually moving them closer to the realization. But even then, "you can lead a horse to water..."
It's easy to understand this concept as it relates to others. Of course you can't force someone to change.
But we rarely apply that same thinking to ourselves.
When setting a goal, keep asking yourself questions.
"Am I doing this because I feel like I should?"
"Am I doing this because someone else told me I should?"
"Do I really want this?"
If the answer is no, that doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't ever do it. But it does mean you should invest time in making it relevant to you.
Don't want to get in shape, but feel like you should? What physical activities do you like? Dancing? Dance. Climbing? Climb. Wanna punch someone? Take boxing lessons.
Don't want to go back to school, but feel like you need to learn more to advance in your career? Which aspects don't you like? Time commitment? Schedule? Format? Take a course on Udemy, or MasterClass, or Lynda. Buy a book. Find a coach or tutor.
The specific paths that society feel work "best" may not work best for you. Take a moment to understand what will. Understand what you do and don't like, and why.
Ask "Why?" Ask "How?"
Make it something you can get excited about, where the secondary effects of the goal fulfill the bits you're not super stoked about.
Make it relevant.
Make it yours.