My daughter wrote the following essay, feeling an ironic tone best conveyed her bitter feelings about physical education. As an addendum she would like other serious amateurs and academics to know that her feelings are much more bitter than presented in this writing. Also, there are limits to how passive-aggressive a student can be in work that needs to be handed in.
My Athletic Journey
Ever since I knew how to move, I have always found joy in moving my body. Though I was never the fastest runner, nor the strongest climber, I have always delighted in moving through the world the way my body can. I never won a footrace, nor have I ever made my legs perpendicular, and I have learned to accept that. That’s why this past semester of Physical Education, I have relished the opportunity to push myself to my limits, and monitor my progress. In hindsight, my SMART Goal was imperative to ensuring that I stayed resolute to push myself, and I now have the tools to do so whenever it may be necessary.
My SMART Goal for the semester was to increase my maximum number of push ups from 3 to 7. I feel it’s important to have a strong core and abdomen, and I felt there was room for improvement in this area pertaining to myself. At the beginning of the semester, after doing only 3 push ups, I felt that I could do better, and improve if I deliberately applied myself to it. I have put all my effort and dedication into this class, and I realized I really wanted something to show for it, so I put myself up to a challenge which I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to meet.
In order to reach my SMART Goal of increasing my 3 push ups to 7, I set three mini-goals for myself to be completed on a daily basis in order to help me achieve my long term goal. My main goal needed me to strengthen my core muscles, so I thought of exercises that would help me slowly strengthen them. In my first mini-goal, I resolved to do 30 wall leans a day. Pushing against the wall requires less effort than pushing up against the ground, so I thought it would be a good exercise to slowly exercise my core. In my second mini-goal, I resolved to plank for 15 seconds a day. I found it much easier to plank when I had a finite time in mind, and not when the planking was to go on indefinitely. My third mini-goal was to do one more push up each day to the best of my abilities in an attempt to slowly get more comfortable with the muscle movement of a push up, and check my progress.
Once I started practicing the mini-goals on a daily basis, and working my muscles a little each day, I found that the results were quite satisfactory. Over the course of two and a half weeks, I was able not only to meet my goal, but to exceed it. I went from a total of 3 pushups to a total of 8. Not only were the mini-goals fundamental, but I found that changing other areas of my life proved quite helpful as well. After reading studies about the values of getting enough sleep, I decided to start going to bed earlier, and making it a priority to get a certain number of hours in. This was more difficult than anticipated especially due to large loads of homework. I still struggle with going to bed at a reasonable hour while being assigned large amounts of homework.
I feel achieving this goal has helped me to see that I have more potential than I realize. I feel empowered now to set even more ambitious goals for myself in the future. Maybe I’ll improve my mile time, a task that sounds now improbable, but not impossible.
This SMART Goal has helped me to reach strength I never knew I had. Before I tried setting goals for myself, I never pushed myself, I never tried to see how far I could go. I believe my life has improved for the better ever since I realized that it’s possible to improve, and get better. I’ll always know I have limits, but now I can truly explore what my limits are, instead of wondering. This past semester, I have learned to move freely, and not to fear where my athletic journey might take me. I know one thing for sure, my future is full of opportunity. I could pursue any career I want knowing that I have the tools to improve my physical performance. That’s a valuable tool I’ll take with me for the rest of my life.