A goal is like kissing. If you think too much about it, you’ll freeze when it comes time to make your move. Thinking about it makes you awkward. Unsure. Doubtful you can get it done.

The lonely drive toward long-term goals feels as nerve-wracking as a kicker, when the opponent calls a timeout and the kicker’s team is just a field goal away from winning. He’s just gotten the gift of time to get a bad case of nerves. His brain and heart pound as he repeats, “Wait for it, wait for it. Now? Now?”

You know the head trash that goes on when you are worried, filled with doubt, maybe exhausted and yet driven to do something you once thought was your destiny. Only now you can’t remember why it was a goal in the first place.

Goals mess with your head.

Why? The mere process of setting goals is about telling yourself you aren’t good enough. You aren’t where you should be. Your life is incomplete, maybe wasted.

Setting goals can be deleterious to your personal branding, which is about creating and maintaining your reputation. Personal branding is about treasuring who you are today, and providing evidence to others that your authentic and compelling qualities and activities have merit. That’s what you’re doing when you share content, network, produce good work and let people know what you do.

Personal branding is nearly impossible to do if you’re not liking yourself.

Personal branding means you are comfortably living in your skin. Yes, you stretch in your career, and go beyond it. You make progress. You become more expert. You enjoy more visibility. You attract more offers and opportunities. That’s the point of personal branding. You get to be you. Get paid to be you. Get paid better to be even more you – or you to more people.

This is contrary to setting in stone what you think you are supposed to do long term, then planning it and worrying about staying the course, and the consequences of failure or missed opportunity. This creates nothing, but pressure.

That’s why long-term goals are largely disempowering. They can drain your pride and excitement. They can drag you down, just when you need to take heart about what you already have accomplished. They make it embarrassing to change your mind. You wind up calling yourself a loser or worse, when circumstances change and now the long standing goal is really off course.

How do you make goal-setting a positive and empowering experience? Do the work of personal branding. Spend time focused on your strengths. Appreciate your real interests. Understand what you are driven to provide first to yourself, and then to us. Show us what matters to you. Let the best of yourself define you in our eyes.

Then set up some reasonable milestones that really make you happy to conjure, get ready for those activities or opportunities that will fill you with joy and satisfaction.

Goals only make your career blossom when they are tied to your real desires, and they are within range of getting done. Then goals are working for you. Not the other way around.