The Three Types of People: Prisoners, Vacationers, and Participants

Are you a prisoner, vacationer, or participant in your life?

Are you a prisoner, vacationer, or participant in your life?


In my cooperate training classes, these are the three types of people I tend to see. Each group has different motivations, makes different choices, and experiences different outcomes in life.

But these groups of people don’t just exist in my cooperate training classes. They exist in every area of life. And you’re one of them!


If you don’t know which type of person you are, keep reading to find out.



“Prisoners” are driven by a sense of duty and responsibility. If they attend a meeting or a conference, it’s not because they want to. It’s because they have to. They do just enough to meet the requirements, and because of that, they will never reach their full potential. They blend in with the crowd because they never really do anything worth noticing.


Prisoners are bound by the rules, and generally they’re followers. They do what’s asked of them and little more. It’s hard for them to initiate or exhibit leadership. It’s a struggle for prisoners to think creatively or independently.


Does this sound familiar? If you’re living with a prisoner mindset, you’re used to doing what you’re told to do. You’re trapped by a lack of choices, letting life dictate actions. This is no way to live. It’s merely existing. Life becomes a long list of obligations and should. Do you really just want to do what’s mandatory? How are you ever going to meet a goal, get promoted, or even noticed if you’re just sliding under the radar? You won’t.


If you know you’re a prisoner, it’s up to you to free yourself! Stop going through the motions just waiting for life to change. Act! Step out of your prison and start engaging with life.



The second type of person is the vacationers. Vacationers are motivated by fun. They’re all about living life to its fullest. They might show up at meetings or conferences—but mostly for the perks, like the free food. Vacationers act based on rewards. It’s good that they’re there—but it’s not for the right reasons.


Vacationers live for the breaks. They enjoy spontaneity and the unexpected. They are the ones who cheer when the clock strikes five or when the weekend starts on Friday.


Vacationers love the thrill that social media gives them. They are escapists who do anything they can to get out of the present moment and submerge themselves in something else that will momentarily entertain them. Vacationers aren’t goal-oriented. Instead they like to do whatever’s different. They don’t enjoy routine, so they change it whenever possible.


Stepping out of your vacationer comfort zone can be scary. It means not just doing things that you enjoy, but actually doing the work and putting in the effort. Once you reset your focus and start working toward goals and dreams instead of just fun, you’ll find that the result is much more satisfying. The rewards you get will be greater and longer lasting the ones you’re used to looking for as a vacationer.



The last (and best!) type of person is the participant. Participants are the people that are actively engaged learners. They don’t just do what’s required of them, but they go above and beyond. Why? Because they know that the hard work is worth it in the end.


Participants understand that success sometimes requires a bit of trial and error. They explore new possibilities. They go out of their way to acquire and sharpen new skills. They are content to stay the same. If they don’t like their circumstances, they change them, rather than acquiring a prisoner mindset. They are constantly re-assessing themselves by looking for areas they can improve and then working to better themselves.


When participants have questions, they ask. They don’t get embarrassed by not knowing something. They know if they want to continue learning and growing as a person, they have to speak up. So they do.


Participants step outside the box. Not only do they follow their dreams, but they also put in the work that will help them achieve those dreams. They know that life is a choice, so they revel in their independence by making choices as often as possible. Unlike prisoners and vacationers, they truly thrive!


If you’re a participant, keep participating! Embrace all aspects of life.


Did you figure out what type of person you are? By answering this question, you know how to improve yourself! If you’re a prisoner or vacationer, don’t expect to get the success that participants are able to achieve. Being a participant does require extra work, but in the end it’s worth it.