A question full of possibilities


If you had nothing to prove, nothing to achieve, if you had all that you needed, what would you love doing?

Gloria S. Chan, personal coach and consultant

Ever since Gloria posted this question on her Facebook page earlier this year, I haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

Until now I haven’t attempted a full answer (more on that below), but I think it’s a brilliant way of getting us to think about how we want to spend the rest of our lives.

For the many people who have found this blog because of bad experiences at work, this may seem like pie-in-the-sky stuff. I understand, but I’d ask you to give yourself permission to think in such ideal terms. The process of recovery and renewal from an abusive work experience involves getting beyond “mere” survival. It’s about reclaiming one’s life and finding fulfillment and even joy in it.

Allowing ourselves the luxury of answering the question means that we’re open to better possibilities. The question may not seem realistic in light of one’s current circumstances, but perhaps that’s the point: It’s an invitation to think beyond our normal, common, well-defined constraints. For some readers, those perceived constraints may be grounded in personal setbacks. In any event, breaking through those boundaries and limitations may be the key to moving forward in a big way.

Answering the question

Yup, right now I still have some things I want to prove and achieve. The work I’m doing on topics related to this blog is a central part of my life purpose, and I don’t see myself moving away from it any time soon.

That said, it would be a bit inauthentic for me to ask you to engage in this exercise while dodging it for myself. So, here goes:

First, I love to sing. I’ve been taking a weekly singing workshop at the Boston Center for Adult Education for many years. Every week, each member of the class performs a song of their choosing to piano accompaniment, and then we are coached by our instructor in front of the group. My repertoire tends to come from old standards: The Gershwins, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Frank Sinatra stuff.

If the informal reviews are accurate, I’m a pretty good vocalist. If I had more free time, I’d want to do more singing, in more venues. Maybe even do a CD, even if just for friends & family.

The second is working with animals. I’ve always loved dogs, and in recent years I’ve grown fond of cats, too (despite a pesky cat allergy). However, my travel schedule is brutal at times, and keeping a pet at home is simply unrealistic, at least from the standpoint of providing a good home to an animal.

So, I’d love to be around animals more and to promote animal well-being. That would bring me great joy.

I won’t ignore those two wishes. In fact, writing about them will help me to keep them close.

And you?

Now it’s your turn. Give it a try, and then see where it takes you:

If you had nothing to prove, nothing to achieve, if you had all that you needed, what would you love doing?


About Gloria Chan

Gloria recently launched a new career as a personal coach and consultant after a successful turn as a lawyer and senior Congressional staffer. Her impressive resume aside, she’s worked through genuine personal challenges and knows that personal transformation is not easy. Her own story is contained in Sarah Prout & Sean Patrick Simpson, eds., Adventures in Manifesting: Conscious Business (2013). It’s a good read.


Graphic courtesy of FreePik.com

8 responses

  1. “…breaking through those boundaries and limitations may be the key to moving forward in a big way.”

    This statement pretty much sums it up for the way back to a productive pathway for the victims of a workplace bully. Finding the the thing that helps you to snap out of the ties that bind you to the words, actions and maliciousness of a bully is difficult. It took me several years to break out of them before I started living again and working towards rebuilding my self esteem and confidence. For me, higher education was the answer. I went back to school. Studied and learned about business law, HR practices and Organizational Management. It was an enlightening and powering experience! I earned a B.S. in Organizational Management and an Executive M.B.A. I realized through my studies that I wanted to help other people and mentor them through the process of reaching their goals. I became a volunteer literacy tutor with a local literacy assistance organization. Four years ago I was offered a paid position as an ESL instructor. I loved it! I found my calling. My workplace bully behan to shrink into a meaningless ball of fuzz. She couldn’t “touch” me, even though she continued to try. I “used” her and the job to pay my bills and support my family while I built a reputation in the adult education field. I now teach five classes at various organizations and continue to get offers from other organizations to start an ESL program. I am learning to write grants for literacy program funding. I am making a difference in the lives of people who would otherwise be caught up in the system and struggling. I get paid for doing something I love! It’s true what they say it doesn’t seem like work when you love what you do. My students come from all over the world, and their backgrounds and education levels differ from poor to very well off, and from no formal education to Ph.d. I am learning about other cultures and meeting some very wonderful and grateful people.

    So what would I do if I had everything I needed, plain and simple, I would quit the day job and continue to help others reach their goals through English literacy. Helping others has helped me regain my life back.

  2. Go Dee!!!
    You are winning!!! You are a winner!!! So much of the Mobbing and Bullying advice seems to come from back in the days when finding another job was pretty much a snap of the fingers. But sadly in today’s economy finding another job (at the same pay rate), for most of us, is virtually impossible.
    Therefore our only true option left to us is winning against our aggressors. Thank you for being strong and showing others that winning is an option!

    Oh and by the way… I would write children’s books and continue writing and playing my music.
    I wouldn’t miss my job for even one fraction of a second.

    • Stormy keep doing what you love and surround yourself with good people. Bullies are pitiful, weak and envious. I refuse to let the bully define who I am.

  3. Hi Dee, Dr. Yamada, and Stormy, plus everyone else on this site,

    I have applied for so many jobs in my town without any luck, so I have decided to volunteer and become a Foster Grandparent. I can help children in grade school having trouble writing and reading.

    The jobs I have been seeing are mostly for “truck drivers” and other jobs for men needing heavy lifting, that I am unable to do.

    I did write an editorial in our newspaper to make people aware of the Healthy Workplace Bill. I received some phone calls about it, wondering how they could help. I am going to write another editorial explaining what to do. I think everyone should write an editorial in their newspaper. I never put in the name of the company or mentioned that I was bullied; just mentioned the bill, what it was about, and why it needs to be passed (they only give you 300 words too).

    I do like to do other things. I enjoy art, crafts, helping others, playing the piano (but don’t have one) and need more practice. I think it would be neat to learn how to play the harp.

    I do not miss my job either. Sometimes, I have dreams I am doing my job for free and then think I should be paid. It is like a nightmare!

    Because of my age of 56, I think that deters me getting a job.

    I am writing a book for children who have a parent with bipolar disorder, trying to explain it in a simple way.

    I have no income, but my husband is working. I am hoping that they bring back emergency unemployment. I am also still working with the Division of Vocational Rehab at Job Service, who try to help me find work. Because of the 3-year bullying experience and I was considered disabled (not receiving disability), the Division of Vocational Rehab took me on. They had to see my medical records. Their decision was decided by the horrible treatment I received at work. This enhanced all of my disabilities; plus I now have post-traumatic stress disorder. I see a psychiatrist and a counselor.

    I am waiting for the Foster Grandparent Program to find a slot for me in 1st/2nd grade at a school that needs the most help.

    I think volunteering is a good idea, because you know you are not getting paid, doing something you like, and hopefully will make a positive difference.

    I am also making glass yard art for an auction at church. There is a church family leaving. The husband wants to become Minister. I look forward to that too.

    You actually meet so many nice people in places you never thought of before and it gives you hope.

    • GEM it is through my volunteerism that I found my true calling. You may find the same to be true. Volunteering can open new doors!

  4. Thanks Professor! It’s so good getting to know you a little. I tried singing lessons, but finally had to admit it was hopeless.

    I’d love to explore additional ways to help empower the little guy. I went into librarianship in the ‘70s carrying the “information is power” banner and worked providing reference and information and referral services.

    While working as a county law librarian I empathized with folks who needed a less expensive and non-adversarial way to resolve disputes. I wrote to our civil grand jury promoting community mediation and got to sit in on the steering committee establishing our local community mediation services.

    I now would love to work towards empowering average folks to be able to take more of an active role in the resolution of their workplace disputes. I would love to devote my time and energies to developing the capabilities of restorative justice and circle processes to handle workplace issues. We need as many options as possible to help those dealing with toxic work environments.

    I’d love to be part of a pilot program that utilized an ombudsperson, or a civil grand jury when they had civil service oversight, to review workplace situations and, yes, be able to subpoena or otherwise compel parties to participate in restorative justice processes.

    I’d love to pursue grant funding for such a study, I’d love to get paid for my efforts, and I’d love to see people–heretofore disempowered and frustrated in trying to address workplace bullying and mobbing—have the opportunity for real discussion and resolution.

    Annnd…if I had all I needed, I’d continue to invent and tinker with stuff, swim, read, hang out in Berkeley and get to know friends and family better.

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