Sunday, September 21, 2008

Going for Goals

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 clich├ęd "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.


maria said...

I dunno about you being mid level at anything... but you sure are way beyond top level as a friend. I think they now have a good culinary school back there, why don't you call them to see if you can do it in your not so spare spare time. We're just here to support you. Who knows, I might get to eat at your own restaurant when I go back for a vacation.
Love you Papa Carl.

Anonymous said...


Goals ? I thought everybody has the same goal: To retire at 45 or 50 Comfortably and in Style regardless of what kind of job they have now.

But kidding aside, notwithstanding that you were late in your goal-keeping aim, you made good. You are now a world-class illustrator and Graphic Novelist. You have to put that in perspective. Out of the 89.5 million Filipinos, an extremely small percentage can really pursue their lucrative dream jobs. You are one.


Carver said...

maria... naku, happy na ako't kahit papaano'y nakakapagluto ako ng hindi namana nakakalason. :) Hope you're doing well there, dear. Ingat lagi!

auggie... thanks much. :) Yes, I've been placing a lot of events in perspective lately, and I've been very thankful. Still, I've got a ways to go, and so much to learn.

Hazel Manzano said...

You're so not mid level!

Carver said...

hazel... ay, Level Up na pala ako. :)


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