Whether it’s been a rough day, week, or year, many of us need a little inspiration. Unless you’re among the nearly microscopic minority of adults who have never experienced the toils of a miserable job, you have surely seen a film or two (or seven) that inspire you to get up off the couch. Below is is the ultimate list of movies if you need some inspiration. This list of movies will remind you that everyone started somewhere.
The following list of movies probably won’t find you a dream career by tomorrow. However, this list of movies may at least compel you to pursue a new position, industry, or entirely new path towards success. For all recent graduates feeling the millennial blues – establishing your career isn’t the magical elixir to happiness, so enjoy the free rent and Netflix binges while you have them. For now, enjoy the pajamas and watch one (or all) of the seven inspiring films in this list of movies meant to inspire and remind you that careers come with time.
1. Office Space (1999)
From the cubicle-driven “did you get the memo?” mentality right down to the smarmy boss and the coworker with the grating voice, this movie is spot-on in its depiction of what it’s like to work at a job you absolutely hate. The entire film has you asking the question, “why don’t these people just get a new job?” But if you’ve pondered your own career change, we all know it’s not that easy. And while some of the employees do join forces to make changes, they’re not the logical sort like finding better ways of communicating to increase morale. Rather, they’re of the more illegal ilk.
2. Chef (2014)
A professional chef leaves his job at a popular Los Angeles restaurant after several heated exchanges with a food critic. With the help of family and friends, he returns to his hometown of Miami and goes the food truck circuit so he can be his own boss. This one falls into the category of ‘leaving it all behind.’ In this case, getting a new job means creating a new job. And that’s some scary stuff. But even if the chef didn’t fit the mold of ‘successful young entrepreneur,’ it all worked out for him in the end. And that’s some heady inspirational stuff.
3. Working Girl (1988)
Tough girl Tess knows she’s cut out for more than typing memos or retrieving coffee as a secretary. She attends business classes at night in hopes of becoming an executive some day. She shows herself as a savvy self-starter to her new boss when she presents an idea to help a client, only to find later her idea was stolen. Through pluck and perseverance, she proves the idea is hers and the client gives her a new job as a junior executive at their company. She eventually ends up with the coveted corner office on Wall Street overlooking Manhattan. Nice work, if you can get it.
4. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Speaking of heady inspirational stuff, follow the success story of Christopher Gardner and you can’t help but be moved. Unless you’re a sociopath with no feelings. This film is based on the true story of a salesman whose failures leave him homeless for a year. But he doesn’t give up. With an indomitable will to succeed and the gumption to keep moving forward, Gardner eventually recovers. In fact, he more than recovers. He goes on to form his own multimillion-dollar brokerage firm. One of the more bittersweet stories of changing careers.
5. Jerry McGuire (1996)
One of the two lines from this movie that exist in perpetuity is, “Show me the money!” (The other is “you complete me,” which was considered romantic in 1996, but twenty years later feels more like a proclamation of codependency.) This film is the portrayal of Jerry McGuire, a hot shot sports agent who stands up to his agency and is subsequently terminated. Right after he is fired, he delivers an impassioned speech about going off and taking the world on by storm. Sitting in the dark of the theater, Jerry assumes the form of superhero. The reality? There’s a fine line between superhero and narcissist. Especially when you don’t actually have any superpowers.
6. Field of Dreams (1989)
This is the quintessential film for anybody who has abided by an unfounded faith to change careers based on absolutely nothing. Everyone thought Ray Kinsella was crazy when he started hearing a voice saying, “if you build it, they will come.” And while a psych eval may have better determined his sanity, he went ahead and built a baseball diamond in his cornfield (to confirm it, according to some). Still, if the intuitive need to change jobs keeps presenting itself, there might be something to it. As long as the need is not solely guided by the dream to work from home and sleep in every day.
7. Julie & Julia (2009)
The Julia in this flick is Julia Child, while the Julie is Julie Powell. The latter is a writer who works such a miserable job that no amount of organizing a more palatable workspace or consuming mass quantities of sugar could make it better. Yet, like most of us, she has to pay the bills. Feeling unable to change jobs, she decides to counterbalance the misery of her occupation by challenging herself to cook every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and documenting the experience on her blog. Long story short, massive readership renders her a huge success and soon Julie is publishing her book and has become the writer she always wanted to be.
I dare you to feel uninspired after watching a few films from this list of movies. There a lot of other films to inspire changing careers. Maybe one that spoke to you. But whether its message was one of wanderlust, retaliation, dreamy aspirations or following your passion, the important thing to remember is it was a movie. Even the films that chronicle characters based on real life are prone to hyperbole and bound to portray the trajectory from disrespected underling to new career superstar as far less jagged than real life might have drawn it. After all, that’s why the editors are paid the medium buck.
Changing careers can be a huge plunge. Into icy waters. Shallow, icy waters. But sometimes it’s exactly what is needed. If you’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices and be realistic, it can be a healthy decision. Still, before you set off to Nicaragua or take out a second mortgage to start your business selling leaf sculptures, you better be sure that you’re not simply running from one job to another to get away from yourself.
You’ll always find where you’ve hidden.
Like many before her, Steph Ruopp is a human. She is also a freelance writer/blogger/copywriter, yoga instructor and caregiver. As an extroverted introvert she is well suited to the alternating human contact and isolation that is the life of a freelancer.