When I was in my mid-twenties, I applied for a position in a company that published catalogs of Chinese products for industrial clients as well as a business magazine for managers. During the interview, I was asked what my five-year goal was. And I, in want of a decent answer, resorted to the clichéd "setting up a business."
The interviewer, an American, then asked what kind of business I wanted to get into, and I said that I wanted to put together a business magazine that catered to young adults in their late-teens to mid-twenties. It was to be the "for dummies" type of magazine that covered the basics of setting up and operating a small business--think Entrepreneur meets Chalk.
I had more conviction over that magazine idea, because back then I had already been buying World Executive's Digest on a semi-regular basis (it was my secret guilty pleasure apart from Tagalog melodramas and kungfu flicks), depending on how much money I had at the time. The magazine, targeted towards middle to senior managers, was generally out of my league back than, but I found it an interesting and eye-opening read. Anyway, the American displayed doubts about my idea, and I didn't get the job.
But I admit that I didn't have any clear goals in my twenties. Ask me then what my goals were and I'd most probably invent an answer. I was trying out a lot of things, starting with writing and photography for public relations work, then slowly moving on to desktop publishing, then graphic design. I tried advertising for a short while, and even tried applying at a local komiks company (I didn't pass--the editor said my work was too "Western.") . I did acting on the side and tried a hand at teaching at university. In the late 90s, I had a short-lived passion for songwriting, and in some of my jobs I even did voice work and hosted special events.
While all that was happening, I was still reading up on Marketing topics, since that was the major I graduated from.
In the early 2000s, I went back to public relations, doing writing, photography and video duties, plus graphic design. I was already doing comics as the "expensive" hobby, but it was only with the Zaturnnah book that my perspective changed.
So, in my mid-thirties, late by most standards, I decided what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
During a Read or Die convention, I was approached by a young lady who was pursuing a law degree. She admitted that she was doing that because it was what her parents wanted--it was where the money was, and finishing it would be upholding the family tradition. But there was a distinct sadness in her eyes because she said she wanted to be a writer, and she didn't think her family and friends would understand. I told her that she could still pursue her writing--if she wanted it bad enough, she would find the time, even for just a few minutes a day. I even told her that she could do a Grisham or a Crichton, to use her specialized knowledge to create her own brand of prose.
There were times when I wished that I had clear-cut goals when I was younger. My peers have successful businesses, or hold high positions in corporations, and their starting early had
brought them to the success they're reaping now. One of my ambitions as a kid was to become a chef. If I had pursued culinary school, who knows where I'd be now?
But now I'm a mid-level graphic designer, a mid-level illustrator, and a mid-level writer, and a low-level in other disciplines, whose more known for a graphic novel, a form that I'm still at mid-level when it comes to technical knowhow. I have no specialization, except maybe for a knack of putting myriad ideas and concepts together to create something hopefully fresh, and I've decided to use them in comics, a catch-all medium for my craziness.
So I guess that's a good goal, to make lots of graphic novels wherein I can use all that I've learned in the past 18 years. My only wish is that I never run out of ideas--or at least be able to not repeat myself--and still be able to engage and entertain.
It's never too late to set a life goal, but what's important is to have one, even it's a five- or ten-year one. A goal isn't an end in itself, but an objective to be achieved that's supposed to prepare you for something greater.