Business & Life Lessons From the Movie Up

I recently saw the Disney-Pixar movie Up. That’s the one about the old man who attaches balloons to his house and flies away. I wasn’t particularly drawn to see the movie, but my husband brought it home from the video store so I agreed to watch it. And boy was I glad I did because there were quite a few messages in it that were perfectly timed for me (as I’m known to quip to my friends “Of course there were!”)

The movie begins with the main character, Carl, as a young boy, meeting an adventurous girl named Ellie. They both dream of going to a lost land in South America. They get married, and as often happens, life takes over, and the dream keeps getting pushed aside for everyday necessities.

Many years later, after Ellie has passes on, and Carl is being forced to move into a retirement home, Carl decides to pursue their dream. He attaches balloons to his house and sets sail for South America, with the intention of settling their home atop a beautiful waterfall. And of course, a wonderful tale of adventure Disney-style, ensues!

However, the real message that I took away from the movie happened before the adventure really even began.

For years, Carl and Ellie put their dreams on hold. They had a picture hanging over their fireplace of their dream: their home next to the waterfall in South America.

Hmmm, sounds kind of like a vision board, doesn’t it?

They had a bottle they dropped all their extra change into – their savings account for their dream – however something always seemed to come up that they needed the money for instead.

So the dream got pushed aside, year after year. And, Ellie passed away never having the chance to realize her dream. It took Carl being pushed up against a wall, and facing being put into a retirement home, before he finally threw caution to the wind and set sail for South America.

It was sad, and at the same time such a true commentary on life.

Because that’s how so many people live their lives. Always putting their dreams on the back burner. Always assuming they can pursue their dreams “tomorrow.” Until one day they wake up and realize their life is over and they never really did what they wanted to do. Instead, they went through life on auto-pilot.

As Carl realizes toward the end of the movie, even though Ellie never got to pursue her dream of going to South America, she did find her adventure in the midst of their everyday life. But one can’t help but wonder if she couldn’t have had both.

As we wrap up 2009 and prepare to start a new year, I encourage you to take a good, hard look at your life and ask yourself, Are you putting your dreams on hold? What’s holding you back from going after your dreams now, while you still can?

As Carl found out, once he made a decision to go after his dream, everything he needed fell into place to make it happen.

Yes, it was an adventure, and it didn’t all turn out the way he envisioned, but he had an amazing journey and learned a lot along the way.

All too often we put our dreams on hold. We think we can’t afford it, or that now is not a good time. We tell ourselves we can always do it later. But for too many people “later” never comes. And that’s too bad. Because who knows where the journey may have led them if they’d had the courage to embark on it.


About Debbie

Debbie worked in marketing for 32 years and ran a successful coaching and consulting business for 19. Now she helps people find greater happiness and success by learning how to Follow Inspiration.

3 comments on “Business & Life Lessons From the Movie Up

  1. Debbie, that is an awesome article! I really enjoyed it, as I also loved that movie and was so inspired by it.

    It spoke to me on so many levels…just as you said, about not waiting to pursue our dreams, and also about the power of opening up to new adventures and relationships, and how they have the power to heal our grief and give us purpose again.

    All the best to you for your own dreams in 2010 and looking forward to seeing you at our next Mastermind event! I know YOU are someone who definitely doesn’t wait until it’s too late to go after what you want and need!


  2. Hi Debbie,

    I watched this movie with my other half and used up half a box of kleenex! He brought it home believing it to be a light and fun disney comedy.

    It hit really close to home for us! We are sailors and I started working virtually over 2 years ago with the goal of sailing across the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and beyond… but it seems an assorted laundry list of things keeps pushing our dreams further and further away.

    ‘Up’ was an absolute wake up call for us and now we are more committed then ever to make our dream happen no matter what!

    I hate sad movies but this one is mandatory watching for anyone who has a dream!!!


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