CAREER DEVELOPMENT / OCT. 05, 2015
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Career Rules That It’s Ok To Break

Rules are meant to be broken. That should be your mantra to live by. Of course, you can’t go around violating every rule; for example it wouldn’t be the best of ideas to violate the rule that dictates clothing at work as not optional! Your boss probably wouldn’t appreciate you running buck naked through the office. Some of your coworkers would love to see that just so they could capture it on video and make you an instant viral sensation on the Internet. Just try to stay professional when breaking rules. That is the one main caveat that will help you to become a productive career rule breaker.

See Also: 5 Ways a Side Hustle Can Enhance Your Career

Remember that you are allowed to break any career rule you feel like breaking as it’s your career, but don’t forget that you are never ever allowed to break office etiquette rules. So let’s focus on four career rules that it’s ok to break. Don’t get scared. Sure, breaking the rules will seem counterintuitive, but that’s part of the fun. Deep down inside you are a rule-breaker at heart. You just don’t know it yet!

1. Only Serious People Succeed

Life is too short. So shouldn’t you be having more fun in your career? Blasphemous words, you say? No way. Why should you even be on the career path you’ve chosen if you can’t have a little fun with it every now and then? It’s not true that only serious people succeed. Yes, we know that goals are important. You must work hard in order to make a name for yourself in your career. However, that doesn’t mean you need to be tight-lipped and constipated, sucking the joy out of your life and the lives of everyone around you. Loosen up a bit. Pull a Coyote Ugly stunt and do a sexy dance on your desk one day. Ok, so maybe that’s taking it too far, but you get the idea.

Break this rule. Become the life of the party and see your career take off. When you start having fun every day, you’ll actually enjoy going to work. Not only will you benefit, but so will others around you. Having fun is contagious. It’s like a viral disease that everyone actually wants to catch. Have you ever thought that your serious, no nonsense mentality was hindering your career? Well, it is. A positive attitude can translate into more engaging relationships with colleagues. That gives you better odds of developing relationships with the right people in the inner circle that can influence upper management. The inner circle wants more fun people who know how to embrace the moment and break the rules. So start getting a little crazy and have some fun!

2. Never Step on Anyone's Toes

It’s ok to break the rules and start stepping on people’s toes. Seriously, you’re not going to get zapped by God. Ok, so you won’t actually go around the office stomping on people’s toes. You didn’t think that’s what I meant, did you? You’re not a five year old having a temper tantrum after all. Instead, feel free to make people dance to avoid your challenges. Picture yourself as a sharp shooter from the Wild West, shooting at people’s boots as they jump up and down trying to avoid getting their toes blown off. Again, this is only an illustration!

As the sharp shooter, don’t be afraid to say what you mean without fear of offending someone. True, there is a delicate balance where tact is necessary. You shouldn’t go around stepping on people’s toes, making fun of their bedhead hair or funky clothes, criticizing them for no reason. Such behavior is uncalled for and you should get shot in the toes for doing that. That’s a surefire way to get mobbed at your desk after you get back from lunch break. You’ll actually feel like you’ve been transported to the Wild West! You’ll probably even have some colleagues retaliating against you by pulling crazy pranks. Watch your back if you go that route.

Rather, breaking the rules and stepping on people’s toes in the right way means that you aren’t afraid to challenge someone in upper management if you think you have a better way to do something. Sure, you may be risking your job security. Yet nothing ventured, nothing gained! Maybe you’ll actually impress your boss by showing the initiative that others haven’t and you could end up getting a promotion. Being known as someone who isn’t afraid to rock the boat, can give you an edge up on the competition and swing many possibilities to your favor for your career. Just keep your real gun in your holster!

3. Don't Deviate From Your Goals

You may have some dents in your skull where the career rule of sticking to your goals has been hammered into your brain. Well, hopefully someone didn’t actually use a hammer or you’d have some more pressing issues at hand, like being dead or brain dead! Since that’s likely not the case, consider the flip side to this perspective.

Sometimes it pays off to deviate from your goals. Do you think that you have an answer for everything when you are planning your goals? You don’t have a crystal ball that you look into, to see the exact path of the future. If you do, then maybe you should start playing the lottery. Who needs a career then! Obviously, you don’t have a crystal ball hidden in your apartment and you don’t have all the answers. So, you can’t expect that you’ll create perfect goals that are right on target all the time.

Decide to break the rules and deviate from your goals. Ok, so you don’t need to deviate from your goals all the time, but only when necessary. Become more flexible and make changes to your goals as needed. This may be news to you, but you are not going to succeed at accomplishing every goal you set out to complete in your career. That’s ok. Nothing is wrong with that. You simply need to become adept at reevaluating your goals and the current circumstances. Then you make adjustments. If you planned to get a promotion in the first year of your employment and you failed, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure. You may feel like one, but you aren’t.

Take an honest look at the situation and figure out where to adjust your goal to make a new plan. Maybe an opportunity will arise that causes you to deviate from your chosen career path. Sometimes you need to break the rules and deviate from the original path. Flexibility can be the answer to brining you the greatest success in your career. Just don’t carry a hammer around with you. No head knocking is needed!

4. Stay Away From Loser Mentalities

So it is important to surround yourself with like-minded people who hunger for success. However, that doesn’t mean you need to follow the career rule to stay away from loser mentalities. For example, if you are friends with people who slack off all day long—and have no drive to succeed—other than to become the best video gamers, that doesn’t mean you should stop being friends with them. Break the rules. Hang out with these people with loser mentalities. Just make sure they don’t hypnotize you and sway you over to the dark side.

The point is that when you break this rule and actually associate with these losers, your eyes can be opened to an entirely new perspective. You will begin to see that you are actually on the right track. You’ll be validated in coming early to the office and staying late. Seeing these people with loser mentalities will make you realize that you have to keep going even when it seems tough and you feel like calling in sick to hide in bed all day, watching TV. No, that’s what losers would do. You’re not a loser, remember. You’re just a loser in disguise.

You’re only breaking this association rule to validate your current pathway toward success. Sure you’ll still associate with the successful people and hope their success rubs off on you like osmosis. Yet, you also need to break the rules and spend time with the losers. Then you’ll truly appreciate what you have and where you’re headed in your career. These people with loser mentalities can become that motivation you may have been lacking—which can continue to catapult you toward success. Just stay focused and have an escape plan so you can get away from these losers once you’ve completed your observations.

See Also: 5 Career Risks You Should Never Take

Sure, you’ve always been told to never break the rules. Yet, you know there is some small part of you that is burning with rebel desire. Unleash that hunger to break the rules, by breaking rules that won’t actually put you in jail! Why not shake things up in your career in a positive way.

Break the rules more often. Stop thinking that you need to be so serious, like you’re sucking on a lemon all day long. It’s ok to get a little crazy and have some fun. Don’t be afraid to rebel and break the rule of not stepping on anyone’s toes. Pay attention to staying balanced with this rule breaking, but don’t stop yourself from speaking your mind when it truly matters for your career.

The world will not stop turning if you deviate from your goals. This is the one time that being a deviant is a good thing! Embrace those slackers and losers in the office. Just make sure you stay focused on your reasons to learn from and observe these alien life forms. You want their loser mentality to challenge you toward more career success, not to bring you down into their world of failure.

What career rules have you broken? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

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