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Career Lessons You Can Take Away from Christmas Classics

Career Lessons

Sometimes, the best lessons in life present themselves to us in the most unexpected ways. Your boss can give you sound professional advice regarding your life goals. Your college professor may have given you reliable and sensible career tips, but did you know that we can also learn some of the most practical and realistic career lessons from Christmas movies?

And because it is the season, let us go through some of the best career lessons you can take away from these Christmas classics.

A Christmas Carol

This movie is a 3D animation adapted from Charles Dickens’ book of the same title which starred Jim Carrey as the Ebenezer Scrooge was a hit when it came out in 2009. It shows that while it is okay to want success and money, these things should not become chains that bind us away from experiencing real human connection. Cultivate meaningful relationships and find a deeper purpose in life other than gaining money. These can make our career journey and life in general, more enjoyable and worthwhile.

Memorable Quote: “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.” – Ebenezer Scrooge, A Christmas Carol.

Home Alone

Who can forget this family Christmas movie that launched Macaulay Culkin to stardom? We’ve all seen it, and we all wondered how Kevin’s parents are going to afford all the repair and restoration needed after the house went to the dogs.

What does the movie tell us? Have an emergency fund. We will never know what will happen in the future, so we should have something to fall back on should things go awry as they sometimes do.

Memorable Quote: “Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.” – Kevin McCallister, ‘Home Alone’.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Based on Dr Seuss’ The Grinch, the movie is an excellent reminder that Inclusivity is key. This means we need to practice holding judgment until we’ve seen a person’s full potential. We will meet many people in our career life, be it a mentor, a colleague, or a direct report.

While it’s so easy to judge people negatively based on how they look and their current challenges, a true leader will take the time to know the person to find out how they can help improve their skills. Remember that real leadership isn’t about how high you climb on the career ladder but rather, how well those around you enhanced because of your guidance. Moving up to a higher position is just a by-product of your management skills.

Memorable Quote: “Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we.” – Anthony Hopkins, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’.

Nightmare before Christmas

This stop-motion animated musical is a perfect example of why we should do a skill check before embarking on a career move. People shift careers a few times in their lifetime, but just because we can doesn’t mean we have to. I mean– at least not right away. Evaluate yourself and your skills to see if you are ready for the next job.

And if not, invest time in learning the skills first. In the movie, Pumpkin King of Halloween Town almost ruined Christmas for everyone but could save it in the nick of time by apologising to Santa. In real life, though, there can be dire consequences to career mishaps, so take extra care by preparing in advance.

Memorable Quote: “What a joy to think of all we’ll have in common. We’ll have conversations worth having.” – Catherine O’Hara, ‘Nightmare before Christmas’.


If there’s anything that pops out in this American Christmas movie, it is perseverance. Our career path is never a straight line. We may make wrong turns along the way, get rejected, and sometimes we may feel like a hopeless case. Always remember that there is nothing useless in this world and definitely not your career.

These stumbling blocks are actually preparing you for what’s ahead. But like anything in life, you must realise the lessons it is teaching you. Go back to the drawing board and find out what’s missing. Who knows, your career success may be around the corner.

Memorable Quote: “You have such a pretty face. You should be on a Christmas card.” – Will Ferrell, ‘Elf’.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

This modern Christmas classic is a perfect reminder that we need a plan before we take action. Winging it just because we can, will usually leave us in a mess and clueless as to what to do next when things go wrong.

The tendency here is we end up making more mistakes. Proactively planning our career steps, including a Plan B and a Plan C help avoid unnecessary stress and careless mistakes. Problems will happen no matter what, but if we prepare for them in advance, the blow would not be as damaging.

Memorable Quote: “If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised.” – Chevy Chase, ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’.

It’s a Wonderful Life

This true classic reminds us that we don’t need to carry the burden all by ourselves. There will be low points in our career life, what with the dynamic economic and business landscape, the chances of things not going our way is possible. Always remember that other people will be more than happy to help you out. Find your support system. It can be your family, a best friend, or colleagues!

And as they say, two heads are better than one. You will never know if someone can help you resolve your problem unless you open to them. A career is never an easy thing to maintain, but surrounding yourself with people who are supportive of your endeavours can make everything worthwhile.

Memorable Quote:” Hey, you’re wonderful!” – James Stewart,’ It’s a Wonderful Life’. 

Final Thoughts

Who knew Christmas movies could give us so many career lessons? As the holiday approaches, take a moment to relax and enjoy these classics. Who knows, your career breakthrough idea may just be inspired by one of these.

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Aubrey i​s a writer and a regular contributor. She writes on topics on job searching and career development in hopes to provide better tips on job hunting and career development.
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