Traits of Those Who Triumph Through Transition

‘Being between positions’ (unemployed, a term we don’t really like) could be a life-enhancing experience rather than a destructive one.  Here are some traits common to those who find that a career or job transition actually helps them grow as a person and in their line of work.


“Triumphant [unemployment] survivors learn to live with contradiction: they can feel disappointed and hopeful, depressed and hopeful, discouraged and hopeful. In fact, they seem to commit themselves to finding or creating something positive for the future even when little or nothing good has yet emerged from their suffering.” A study of unemployed people who were hurting financially but doing well emotionally concluded that unemployment could be a life-enhancing experience rather than a destructive one. Researchers Fryer and Payne found [and other research supports] that what made the difference was how these people approached their job loss and whether they were able to use their unemployment time constructively. Those who were using this time in an exceptionally positive and creative way, rather than becoming depressed and alienated, had the following characteristics:

  • They had values that gave direction to their lives;
  • They had a desire to be active, regularly structured time for themselves, and vigorously engaged in purposeful, unpaid activity;
  • They saw unemployment as an opportunity for self-development and a chance to achieve certain desired goals;
  • They were highly motivated and willing to work hard to become reemployed; and
  • Even though most had problems in some of their relationships, they found support from other people that helped them cope.”

“What each of these well-functioning individuals possessed was the trait of proactivity: the characteristic of choosing to take the lead to bring about wanted changes. Rather than responding passively and allowing life to impose on them the need to revise their hopes and expectations downward, proactive people show a strong work ethic in unemployment: they establish their own tasks and projects and follow through. These people ‘are not mere pawns suffering the consequences of unemployment, they are agents causing things to happen.”

(Living Through Job Loss: Coping with the Emotional Effects of Job Loss and Rebuilding Your Future, by Anne Kaiser Stearns with Rick Lampaugh, Fireside Books: New York, 1995).

[A discussion about this triumph theme with your EaRN Teammate will very likely help you make fullest use of the ideas contained in it.  It provides a framework for your work search thinking, planning and activities to find your next work assignment and keep yourself employable.]