Career Advice from a Christmas film, yes really!

Anyone who knows me appreciates my love of a Christmas film; I see them as escapism until I start to bring in an element of reality and of course all things career. What on earth am I talking about? Whilst savouring a glass of mulled wine last night, I put on one of my favourites; Elf! It was interesting to hear that Papa Elf said there were only three career Elf.6options for an Elf…

  • Making shoes whilst the shoemaker sleeps
  • Making cooked in trees
  • Santa’s Workshop

The main character fumbled his way through life from the North Pole via the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest and I am sure you are familiar with the rest…. he had a brief stint of employment in a store and a mail room, however by the end of the film he is a bestselling author touring the country with his semi-autobiographical novel. He broke the rules – he didn’t limit himself to one of the three jobs he was told were his only options! Lesson one: Never let someone else limit your belief in what you believe you can do.

Then when it came on to those who are limited, it brought me to my second favourite; It’s a wonderful Life, what can the 1946 classic about George Bailey really teach us? George ended up stuck in a back water town because of an obligation to the family business; his dream of travel was shelved. He never managed to follow that dream but he did learn to appreciate the things he did have. In 2017/18 he may have had more choices, there would have been options and I hate to say it, regulations that would prevent him ending up almost destitute. The critical thing for me was not the passing up of dreams, the feelings of being stuck it was the mental health issues it raised. We underestimate the impact feeling stuck in a rut or redundancy has on the mental health of an individual. Lesson two: Mental and physical health should never be sacrificed for a job!George Bailey-7.12

Howard Langston, played by Schwarzenegger in; Jingle all the Way is another example of a character putting his job ahead of his family, the child expects work to be put first and him to come in second. Not every dad gets to be a hero and deliver the toy of the year; many parents are in a constant battle to balance work and home life. Lesson three: You have to have work life balance, no one ever died and wished they’d worked longer or harder!

Two other parents struggling to balance career and family life, the father of Kevin McCallister was so caught up he failed to notice he had left one of his children; Home Alone. (I’m not sure that we were every really told what he did to own such a large house and be able to afford expensive European vacations) However after a little digging it turns out Kevin’s mum was a fashion designer- which suddenly explains the vast number of mannequins they had in their home! Scott Calvin from The Santa Clause, a busy Advertising Exec for a toy company worked so hard he neglected his family causing a breakdown in his marriage and a poor relationship with his son. He ended up with a better relationship with his son but with a commute to the North Pole. Lesson Four: Everyone has enough magic inside them to find their dream job!


And for Lesson Five: Unless your horrible boss is visited by three ghosts, they are unlikely to change! Scrooge the epitome of a terrible boss, overworking employees, not considering the needs of them or their family – focused only on money. Most people don’t leave a company they leave a boss, bullying in the workplace is being recorded more and more. Your boss is unlikely to change, sometimes we have to leave for our own sanity.

Ultimately as with all films we are rooting for the underdog, we want them to change their ways, apart from Mr McCallister otherwise we would not have had the sequel! Lesson Six: You are not the underdog, you are in complete control of what happens next in your career. Are you ready to make the change?