Why You Should Break All The Rules At Midlife And Beyond

Why you should break all the rulesRules.

Where do they come from and why do we follow them?

It is an important question to ask because many people just follow rules blindly, without question, even if it compromises how they really want their life, work and relationships to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is a value in certain rules. Rules like it is not OK to kill someone or don’t text while you are driving. Great rules. Totally on board.

But it is the unwritten, self imposed rules we live our lives by that concern me. The rules that society or our parents or peers have decided are the “norm” that don’t fit with your own values or what is most important to you.

When I challenge the rules that people feel are holding them back from designing the life and results that they really want, I often get the response of “well that’s what everyone does” or “that is just the way it is”.

They have settled for the status quo. But just because everyone does it doesn’t make it right for you, your work or your relationships.

It used to be “normal” to put kids up the chimney but it didn’t make it right.

All rules are made up. Are you living by rules that fit your values? Are you living the life you want or living someone else’s life?

It is especially important to give this some thought at midlife, and beyond, as often it is these things that are getting in the way of the life and results you really want at this satge of life.

Here is my point:

Conformity is the killer of creativity

Conforming to rules set down by anyone other than yourself, based on your values and what is most important to you is stopping you from living and working on your own terms.

Blindly conforming is like getting on the train to mediocrity central.

So, I invite you to look at the rules you are running your life. Ask questions such as:

  • Is believing and operating within this rule helping me or hindering how I want things to be?
  • What if this rule isn’t true?
  • What new rule could I put in place that more closely matches my values?
  • If I wasn’t buying into those rules what would I do differently?

So, here’s the challenge – start breaking all the rules (obviously not the ones that would mean breaking the law or are wise to follow!). Start creating your own rules and “norms” based on your values, what is most important to you and will support the life and results you really want to achieve at midlife, and beyond.

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  • I really agree – getting stuck within too many rules stifles creativity and free thinking – I always liked the kids in my class who had a twinkle in their eye and a curious nature !

  • Thanks Sue. This whole area is something we all need to keep aware of in terms of how it is affecting us in all areas of life. Equally, as parents, we should think carefully about the “rules” we are teaching our kids about work, relationships and success by what we are role modelling. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Naomi Richards

    Ali, I generally make my own up – as my OH says. We dont have too many. Think that children should only have a few – bit like pick your fights – rules give them security but too many can constrain them into not being the person they were made to be.

  • Naomi, I think you are spot on – too many rules constrain kids and adults alike from not only being who they are but living their ideal life fully.

  • Naomi, I think you are spot on – too many rules constrain kids and adults alike from not only being who they are but living their ideal life fully.

  • Agree. The one thing I have never ever understood, is why parents don’t teach their children that they will have to make their own lives. People grow up conforming and then eventually find they are absolutely miserable because they swallowed the whole societal ball of wax. Yes, of course, to the sensible rules, but we have to make our own lives. Thanks


  • I think bringing up kids to create and live the life they want for themselves is one of the greatest gift we can give our kids.

  • Love this! It’s so true. We create our own rules every day. It’s great to come up with what works for us.

  • Estelle Sobel Erasmus

    I agree. I’ve always been a rule breaker–just not the lawful ones:)

  • Hi Andrea, when we live by our own values itsure beats living by someone elses rule book

  • Good to distinquish between rules that should be broken and those that shouldn’t!!!

  • Diane Brogan

    This is so very true.

  • Lynn Miller

    Love this article! Interesting that once I let the rules align with my values, a whole new set of opportunities appeared!

  • Aligning with values really does transform all areas of life.

  • Glad you liked it Diane.