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The College Athlete's Guide to Setting Goals:

Written by retired collegiate athlete and certified Goal Coach,

Jessica Softcheck

These little golden nuggets have been rattling around my head for years just making me wish I’d known how to actually set authentic goals for myself as a college athlete.

You see, I’m a type 3 when it comes to the enneagram (if you don’t know about that yet, click here + hop to it!) & always have been - therefore I love to work hard at the things I love & am good at.

But outside of that, I know the achievement most likely won’t follow without extreme effort, & there are things in better alignment just waiting for me to crush.

As an athlete in college, I looked around & saw the athletic goals of the girls around me, & thought “Oh yeah, those goals are awesome & would make me feel really cool to accomplish! I’M IN!”

But in reality, chasing other people’s goals just left me feeling drained & more like a failure than one of those “shoot for the moon & you’ll still land among the stars” types…

Ultimately, chasing goals that belonged to other people just left me majorly confused on what it was that I really wanted.

College athletes have the tendency to tunnel vision around “who they are” as an athlete. Heck, tons of athletes literally go by whatever number is stitched into their jersey. #guilty.

And I’d be lying if many a password in this house of athletes didn’t incorporate those numbers too, haha. They (we) forget that while it is an incredible privilege & honor to continue to compete, most often that time comes to a close, & they’re left in this weird identity crisis wondering who they could or should be now...

So instead of a team full of players all chasing the typical “All-This” “All-That” type goals, how could we goal set differently as college athletes to avoid the post-grad identity crisis phase & actually enjoy the journey regardless of the outcome?  Glad you asked ;)

First, I’d say, start by getting really clear on your Core Values.

What are the things that you (yourself in your most honest & authentic state) need to feel & experience to thrive? These are the things that you’re innately created to crave & desire in & around your life.

You come alive when all of your “Core Value Cylinders” are firing. Coming from a place of, “how do I want to feel while I chase this goal” instead of “how will I look when I check that box,” is imperative.

A lot of times our actions don’t actually match our values, & that leaves us feeling downright weird while we try to accomplish things.

Nothing will ever get into flow if our actions are out of alignment with the things & experiences we truly want. All that does is create confusion between what we’re trying to create & what we’re actually creating…

So how do you figure out what your Core Values are?! Click here for a list of core values to examine.

There’s quite a few to mull over on this list, so it might take a few rounds of whittling down & honest self-inquiry to discover & declare yours. I like to walk clients through an initial “choose anything that really stands out to you.” And then let’s cut that in half!

Look for words that could be broad enough to encompass what you really mean. If you have more than ten on that list, let’s cut it in half again!

Imagine you had 10-20 Core Values & needed to spend equal time filling those buckets every day, week or even month.  It’s just too much. 

*Remember, when you’re living into your Core Values, you’re frequency is raised, you’re feeling empowered, life feels rich, soulful & “just right.”

Once you have your 5-6 Core Values, you’re ready to go from:

  • Unfocused to Focused
  • Energy Flowing in All Directions to Energy Flowing in ONE Direction
  • Having a Small Impact Overall to Having a Huge Impact in your goal setting & crushing endeavors!

Take a look at your Core Values. It’s pretty likely that most of them led you to become an athlete in the first place.  But becoming a college athlete is far from being your life’s one great accomplishment! Let’s carry those strengths & values further.


Next, you’ll start setting goals with the Core Values in mind.

 They are your compass, your “True North,” your filter for every decision & your absolute HELL YES.  And do yourself (& the world) a favor & be a HELL YES for yourself. The world needs YOU, don’t let it down ;)

If a goal or an idea or endeavor isn’t in line with your Core Values, then guess what? It’s a HELL NO. Period. The End. 

Honest goal setting just isn’t happening like it should (athletes or not) these days.  There are way too many opportunities to compare ourselves before we even finish our morning coffee.

I mean, one wrong scroll on Instagram & you’re changing your major, cutting your bangs & going vegan.  Let’s start living into our own strengths so we can lift others up too, shall we?!

Do this little exercise today:

(A) Start by setting a big goal or "Outcome Goal" in your personal life & in your athletic career.

What Big Hairy Audacious goals do you want to tackle, all the while feeling empowered & alive?! Make sure this is YOUR goal. I mean it! Don’t waste your time, energy or emotions going through the motions of someone else’s goal, k?!

(B) Next, set your “Performance Goals.”

These are the markers that will get you to those desired outcomes.  And remember, there’s more than one path that can lead your from A to B. Don’t get too attached at how it happens! If you’re cruising along to the tune of your Core Values, you will get there. 

(C) And lastly, set your “Process Goals.”

These are the bite-sized action-oriented goals that are going to act as your stepping stones to your Big Hairy Audacious core value-driven goals!

Once you get your goals down on paper, start saying them out loud! Speak them into existence & just watch the people around you gather to support you. 

Need an extra accountability partner? I’m here for ya! Get to know me on Instagram at @jess.softcheck or click here for other coaching offerings on deck!

Reading this from @Soccergrlprobs?! There’s a discount code with your name on it for your first Goal Setting Sesh with me! Email me with the subject line "SoccerGrlProbs Podcast" at!



  • vptosmnqoz posted on March 21 2021 at 03:03 PM

    Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

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