A Money Coach in Canada

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This is a guest post by a friend, mentor and former boss!  Lowell-Ann provides mid-life career coaching and also helps folks who are about to retire do some good thinking on using this new stage of life as a time of renewal and re-direction.

I asked her to write a post for those who are about to enter their “Third Age”.


So you’ve entered the uncharted territory of your Third Age and you find there are places there that really scare you:

  • What will I do there?
  • Will I have enough money to be there?
  • Who will I be?
  • Where is my tribe if I’m no longer connected to my career?
  • Where will I find the courage to deal with all this?

In my coaching work I often remind clients that it’s a lot more difficult thinking about a plan than doing it – one step at a time. But lately I’ve begun to reflect and reconsider this. A better reframe of this notion has become: “how we think about something will determine the outcome”. Do we think about it from a contraction or an evolutionary stance? I believe it’s a choice we make.

When thinking about the future, first comes a momentary reaction that is fraught with fear and the anxiety that it brings, followed by a huge resistance to the changes that we know must occur. Contraction could take over here. The psychology of contraction brings about some rather dramatic responses that we may not desire for ourselves:

  • Excess vulnerability, feelings of being victimized
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Loss of trust
  • Over-reaction to events
  • Seeking scapegoats
  • Orientation to the past
  • Hoarding
  • Using substances to numb
  • Thoughts of just putting in time

All of these responses tend to bring on more of the same – which we know is not a great place to be. Then comes the moment of choice: Do I choose what contraction brings? Or do I choose the opposite? The psychology of evolution is more likely to bring about what I do desire:

  • Generativity
  • Creativity
  • Forward orientation (both thought & motion)
  • Optimism
  • Joy and fun
  • Positive results
  • Meaningful connections
  • Sense of wholeness

The choice that we make seems to boil down to our ability to manage our fear. This is the million dollar question, “How do I manage my fear?” We can muster up the courage and just plough through, or we might try something more creative. Daniel Goleman reminds us that “the emotional brain is highly attuned to symbolic meaning”. (pg. 209) With this in mind, discovered an exercise (The Artist’s At Work by Bryan, Cameron & Allen) that puts our fear into a symbolic ritual that I think is worth a try:

1. Sit a moment and reflect – forgive yourself for the fear, confusion and lack of courage that has prevented you from claiming what you want. Generate some care toward your vulnerable self.
2. Realize there is no moment without stuckness for anyone.
3. Create a fancy jar to house your fears.
4. List all your fears. Write one fear per piece of paper. Fold each well.
5. Place each fear into the jar with ceremony. Seal the Jar.
6. Place your Fear Jar on a shelf.

Having chosen to put your fears on the shelf for a while, you have freed up some space for some practical steps toward evolving into your Third Age with expansion. Frederick Hudson in Life Launch suggests:

1. Find teachers, mentors and coaches to assist
2. Reconnect with your values
3. Reflect and decide something new that you want
4. Decide what you could unlearn or let go of
5. Identify what new information and knowledge you need
6. Consider life skills and technical skills
7. Create your learning environment

Go forward with the confidence that you have what it takes to have a very inspiring Third Age. Associate with positive, stimulating and inspiring people. And read inspiring books like Richard J. Leider and David A. Shapiro’s Something to Live For – Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life or Rosamund and Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility – Transforming Professional and Personal Life.

Lowell-Ann blogs at blog.workstyle-lifestyle.com

You can connect with her on LinkedIn

Photo Credit:  Jennacatpink

It’s been a while since I’ve worked anywhere that started employees at less than three weeks, but the bottom line is that Canadian employers are required to provide only two (paid) weeks plus the stat holidays.

I thought it would be interesting to see how that stacks up to other countries so I pinged a number of friends in faraway places, and discovered the following:

Russians start at 25 days plus stat holidays

Danish people get six weeks including stats.  Of interest:  unemployed folks get 2.5 days holidays per month.  Huh?  You ask?  While they are unemployed, they are expected to be available for work at a moments notice, and looking for work every day.  It’s their “job”.  But just like working folks, they too get a break of 2.5 days a month.

Australians can count on starting at 6 weeks plus about 10 stat days throughout the year.

Germans also get six weeks plus a number of stat holidays (highest I heard of is my friend Katherine working there who has 12 stats!)

South Korea gives 19 vacation days plus 15 stat holidays (this defied my stereotype, truth be told)

Slovakia gives 4 vacation weeks plus 15 stat holidays

Japan gives 4 vacation weeks plus 16 stat holidays

The UK gives nearly 6 weeks vacation plus 8 stat holidays

Finland gives 6 weeks plus 10 stat holidays

Brazil gives 6 weeks plus 11 stat holidays

Iran gives 4 weeks

American friends – I tried to find stats for you and it appears you have no required vacation days? Other than stats?


Photo Credit: Sherlock77

My post title was a bit flippant.  But look.  Nobody should own you.  While I’m no proponent of the “tell my boss to shove it and walk off the job” mentality (which says a lot more about the employee than the employer, imo), three things are clear:

1.  If your work life is hell, for instance if you are being bullied, you should have enough set aside that you can walk away from your job to find a healthier workplace, if it comes to it.

2.  Lay-offs happen. Certainly not as much in Canada right now as in the USA or the UK but still, they happen.  You should have enough set aside that this doesn’t totally un-nerve you.

3.  And you can bet there will be more and more Strikes happening as belts tighten around the western world.

So.  The $60,000,000 question is:  How much should you have set aside?

The standard answer used to be three months of your basic living expenses.  (Don’t know what three months of your expenses are?  Shameless self promotion:  you need to take my online money coaching program and find out!)

However, I spoke to a seasoned career counsellor yesterday who said it’s taking about 8 months these days to find a new job in Canada these days.  That’s just his off-the-cuf response, but still. I imagine the stats in the States are  worse. Gulp.  Eight months is a lotta dough to stash away.

Start with this. Start with one month’s worth of living expenses set aside.   Do it within one year and make that your financial project for one year. Force the savings one way or another: straight off the paycheque, into a TFSA or a simple savings account or even your RRSPs.  It will be saving just a little less than 10% of your salary which is the savings benchmark we should be striving for anyway.

Here’s what even one month of savings will accomplish:

  • You will discover the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve got something, something if, god forbid, it came down to it.
  • Secondly, you will grow it further, guaranteed.  Once your initial goal is met, I’d be pretty amazed if you don’t find ways to keep growing it, because it will feel so good.
  • Last, if you’re not already a saver, your self-image will shift.  There’s nothing quite like having something set aside to give a quiet, inner confidence.

If you decide to go for it – please do! – you should check out ING Direct.  Give them this code:  14641937S1 and we’ll both get a little bonus when you sign up.

If it does not seem do-able despite having a regular paycheque, let me recommend my program again.  It’s affordable and will help you get to the place where you can set aside what you need.

Buillies aren’t just found on school grounds. There is growing recognition that they exist on the workplace, and they can make life hell for their targets as well as undermine their company’s business objectives by diminishing their targets – and usually their team’s – ability to function effectively.

Why any business puts up with it beats me. At best, it’s wasteful nonsense; at worst it is deeply destructive and sabotages the organization. In my small-business work experience, it would not be tolerated: it’s too easily apparent that tolerating bullying behaviour is a net drain on the business even if it’s by a high-performer.

The following piece is the personal experience of someone I know well. She prefers to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. The experience below occurred in a large hotel chain headquartered in Europe, with over 145,000 employees.

Readers, if you relate to her experience, I’d so appreciate if you leave a comment. I’d like to know how much it cost you personally, because there’s always a dollar value attached, and what you’d estimate its cost was (dollar value) to the company where you experienced it. You can leave your comment anonymously – just fill in fake e-mail and name. I’ll never know the difference.


Serial workplace bullying is only one of the recognized workplace bullying behaviours seen in today’s business world, and it doesn’t seem to matter which industry or country you are in. Despite legislation or corporate policies, many companies still have ongoing issues of this unsocial behaviour. How do I know? I have been targeted by serial workplace bullies in two countries. I don’t have scientific research to back up my thoughts — I have personal experience and desktop research. This is what I know.

Bullies will continue to be part of the workplace as long as people don’t talk about it. I think it is time to keep the conversation going. And to have a conversation, it is helpful to have the facts.

Bullies don’t target the stereotype of weak incapable staff — they target people who are ethical, just, fair, well-liked, highly personable, strong, independent, intelligent and self-assured.

Bullies are driven by feelings of inadequacy at being able to do their job, and fear being exposed. Bullies envy the target’s abilities, are jealous of their social skills and relationships. Bullies turn their insecurity outwards, finding satisfaction as they attack and try to diminish the capable people around them. Bullies try to project guilt, shame and fear — which are known as tactics of control. It is how all abusers try to gain control over their targets and silence them.

And there is a huge impact on our societies. Bullying affects individuals, colleagues, corporations, organizational productivity and the economy. Many of these targeted individuals either take long periods of leave from work, or they leave, some never finding their feet again. The cost to lives and communities continues to add up. Why do we keep accepting this behaviour in our society?

As I said, I was bullied at work, once in Canada and twice in Australia. After being bullied the first time, and choosing to learn from the experience, when I saw the signs a second time, I had no issue to act and speak out quickly.

In my first meeting with the new General Manager after returning to work from my summer holiday, I was confronted with a finger wagging across the desk at me and the words “I have it on good authority that you…” with very negative words about me coming next. I was appalled. Rather than get to know me, he chose to believe, and repeat the vicious words the two office bullies had started to circulate the weeks before I went on leave. I was the third manager in our team to be targeted in 12 months. I recognized the signs all too well. I had spoken to HR before, now it was directed at me.

When his phone rang, I excused myself from his office and called his bluff. I went back to my office, sorted my emails, packed my personal belongings from my desk and typed up my resignation. Within 30 minutes of experiencing the escalation of the bullying, I left with eight weeks pay.

I also talked about what was going on, to former colleagues, to other managers, to HR — I got it on record. I knew it was my choice about how long I wanted to stay, or leave. This organization had no bullying policy — and no intention of putting one in place. There would be too many staff to deal with if a new policy was written. I knew there was nothing I could do to change the corporate will to stop the bullying.

If you are being bullied, or know someone who is being bullied, learn about it. There is plenty of good information available online. Know that you are not alone, that bullying will not go away through your good behaviour, and decide what you are going to do to look after yourself.


Resources for folks being bullied:


Your “>EAP


Photo Credit: CoalandIce