For the past 33 days the entire Fast Company staff has been enduring what we call “purgatory.” The space of utter limbo in which you don’t know if every day at work will be your last. You know your company is up for sale, you know the chances of survival are slim, and yet you have to keep on working creatively to put out the best magazine you possibly can. Every minute is a personal battle of trying to focus on the micro when the macro is the subtext of your every move.
The thing is, at Fast Company, we all love our jobs. We have the unique 360 degrees of satisfaction: our work is meaningful, we deeply admire and respect our coworkers, we love the product we put out and all the people who are part of the process. So the thought of losing this amazing reality was heartbreaking for all of us. But, the interesting thing it did do was force each one of us to really think about, if our dream job came to an end, what would we do next? While none of us wanted to even contemplate that scenario it was a reality we had to consider.
While most of us would try to get a similar job in journalism (if such a thing exists), as much as we probably wouldn’t want to admit it, the thought of being forced to start from scratch was mildly exhilarating. What about trying to relocate to Europe? Or start a non-profit? Write a book? While none of us certainly would have asked for this, it was humbling and refreshing to be forced to reevaluate the who, what, where, when and why of our career paths.
Thankfully, as of yesterday, thanks to Mr. Joe Mansueto, we won’t be forced to make those decisions. But I walk away from this experience reminded that it shouldn’t have to take a crisis to force us to ask ourselves these questions. If you found out your company was shutting its doors tomorrow, how would you change the way your career, your life looks? Are there dreams that you’ve successfully repressed over the years? Are you in your current job out of complacency or fear of risk? My personal guide has always been: You’ll never regret the things you tried, only the things you never tried. Figure out what your guide is — and then go for it.