As well as her iconic role as Rachel Green in the hit TV show Friends, Jennifer Aniston has been building a sustainable movie career. She stars in independent films as well as big blockbusters and has played a range of characters in different careers, from shop assistant to executive to stripper. She often plays down on their luck characters struggling to get ahead in their careers and her characters have taught me some valuable lessons. Here are some career lessons I learned from Jennifer Aniston movies:
Don’t be ashamed of your personal circumstances
In Picture Perfect, Jennifer plays an advertising executive who is passed over for promotion because she isn’t seen as ’stable’ enough; i.e., she is single with no ties. To combat this, Jennifer’s character invents a new life for herself where she has a fiancée. Ultimately, it ends in disaster. Ignoring the fact that there is blatant discrimination going on in the movie, it still teaches us to work to obtain career goals on your own merit, regardless of what your personal situation is.
Priorities sometimes change in your career
In Marley and Me, Jennifer plays a woman who is struggling to balance her career with her two young children. As she puts it, “When I’m at work I want to be here, and when I’m here I can’t stop thinking about the office.” She feels like she is doing both jobs half way. It’s a good lesson though. Sometimes, there is no shame in admitting that priorities have changed and your career may not be as big a motivator as it once was.
It’s ok to take a day to yourself once in a while
In The Break-up, when Jennifer’s character breaks up with her boyfriend she arrives at work looking terrible (well, as terrible as Jennifer Aniston can look) and her mind was definitely not on the job. Her boss instructed her to go home, take a day to be sad and then come back tomorrow composed and ready for business. It’s not bad advice. Sometimes personal issues can get in the way of work and when our mind is elsewhere, we’re unlikely to do our best work.
Don’t get stuck in a career rut
The Good Girl was a 2002 indie movie in which Jennifer played a shop assistant who was bored with her mundane job. She was literally going through the motions whilst dreaming of a better career, but never actually doing anything about it. In fact, she describes her job as “a prison”. This movie taught me to never get to the stage in a job where you literally hate going in. Always look for the challenges in a job and if you feel you have gotten everything out of it that you can, it’s time to look for something else. Staying in a job where you feel bored will only make you bitter and resentful.
Not all of the ideas your boss comes up with are good ones
The movie Just go with it saw Jennifer play a long-suffering secretary who is convinced by her boss to pose as his soon to be ex-wife to allow him to attract a new girlfriend. Understandably, this ends in disaster. It teaches us that no matter how much we look up to our boss, not every idea they have is worth following. Everyone comes up with plans once in a while that are ridiculous or won’t work, so if you don’t agree with what your boss is planning, raise your concerns in a constructive way.
Don’t make rash decisions that you will regret later
In one of Jennifer’s more obscure movies, Office Space, she plays a waitress who is constantly being berated by her boss for not “using her flair” to express herself. Unfortunately, she then chooses to express herself by swearing at him and quitting her job. Whether it was the right decision or not, make sure you know what you’re doing before you make a snap decision. If possible, take time to think things over instead of reacting instantly to something that happens.
Off-screen, Jennifer has enjoyed a pretty fascinating career herself, making the difficult transition from TV star to movie star. It’s true to say that Jennifer has had some varying success with some of the movies she has picked, however even those which failed to make an impact at the box office can teach us lessons we can translate to our own career. And, as Jennifer herself says, “There are no regrets in life, just lessons.”