Evan Lewis, ex VP PR, Events & Corp Comms at DFS, tells us how he reacted following the completion of his most recent role.

During my working career, I have met many who have been dissatisfied with their jobs and ‘bite the bullet’ and take time off and others who have resigned from one role in advance of securing new employment. I confess to viewing them as terribly brave and or a possibly little mad.  So when in the last quarter of 2014 I approached the completion of my most recent role, I wondered how I would react – would I panic and knee-jerk into the first job that came along, spend every morning scouring the vacancy columns or is it possible that I could embrace the opportunity and enjoy some time-out.

Without giving too much away, the last time I was unemployed was almost 25 years ago and for a sum of 3 weeks and in which time I relocated to a new city to commence a fresh job.  Needless to say, I don’t really know how not to work, how to wake without an alarm or how to take more than the permitted quantum of annual vacation.  So as the last working day quickly approached I predictably scoured all the recruiter sites, signed up for all those pesky daily job flashes and made a start on tapping my network.

When on that first Monday morning when I woke up and realised I didn’t need to go to the office, I laid in bed looking at the ceiling and taking stock, I felt normal (bar the enormous hangover from a weekend of farewelling), the world outside the window sounded the same as people shuffled off to the office and this overwhelming sense of joy washed over me – this time for the first time is mine.  

Never the one to be completely absent of pragmatism, I started over the coming weeks to form a bit of a plan which would see me spend extended time at home in Australia with family for Christmas and travel visiting friends to unwind and that’s exactly what I did.  I recall hopping on the plane to leave Hong Kong having packed up and stored all of my belongings in early December and having this overwhelming sense of being unencumbered – I realised that it was the first time I had ever hopped on a plane without a plan and it felt great.

I did of course prior to my departure and during my travels caught up with selected recruiters.  Inevitably at the end of each appointment there would be a moment where they would say with some trepidation ‘as a rule of thumb, it takes 6 months to secure a role such as you seek’ and I would smile and say great, let’s hope it is not sooner.

During this time I stopped being a corporate traveller and stayed in the spare rooms of friends, have not purchased any luxury clothing items and as a result have possibly become a little disloyal to some of the brands I have espoused over the years.  Being able to step out of the boardroom, carry a device that doesn’t have PowerPoint loaded and travel with a different state of mind has enabled a reconnection with people I know, met new people and I have relished in the most insightful conversations about real topics, things impacting and worrying people every single day.  I think I have become that target we spoke about in so many of those meetings, a consumer less than a customer - or have I in fact become more of a person?

Having now completed the first stage of my travels, I have moved myself and belongings to join my partner who is working in Shanghai, become a complete yoga evangelist and enjoying discovering the city anew with fresh eyes and hopes.

Whilst I don’t know exactly what lays ahead in terms of my next role, I am excited about the possibilities.  I feel that this space that has formed between roles has more than allowed me just to recharge but also to reset and form fresh opinions that should serve me well professionally moving forward.

It has since dawned on me that those who I have previously considered terribly brave or possibly a little mad were in fact enlightened.

I’m calling it ‘Gap Year’ and whilst it will likely not be an actual year, I’m loving it!


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