By Ruth Soukup
July 11, 2018

From the earliest age, we’re taught to follow the rules. Look both ways before crossing the street. Don’t talk to strangers. Color inside the lines. Wait your turn. Say please and thank you. Raise your hand to speak. Don’t talk with your mouth full. The list goes on and on.

But all those rules don’t stop once we get older. In fact, most of the time, we all operate within a set of established norms, or unwritten rules. We talk a certain way, dress a certain way and always try to follow instructions. We don’t dare rock the boat. We pay attention to what everyone else is doing, and try to keep our own behavior in line. Whether it’s at work, school or home, most of us — whether we want to admit it or not — are rule followers.

But who’s making those rules? And, are following all of these social norms actually helping us? I’ve learned that following someone else’s way of doing things hasn’t always been the best path forward. Sometimes, following the rules holds us back from realizing our dreams and taking chances.

Yes, it’s a little scary to be a rebel, but sometimes it’s necessary if we want to advance in our careers or lives.

So how do you ignore conventional wisdom and silence that voice in the back of your head that tells you not to rock the boat? How do you find the courage to question authority and forge your own path? That’s exactly the topic that I discuss in this episode of the Do It Scared podcast. Hopefully, my tips will help you feel confident enough to step outside the box. Because I promise you, that’s where most of the good stuff happens.

Ruth Soukup is a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of Living Well Spending Less. You can listen to her sage advice on life, career and parenting on episodes of her new podcast, Do It Scared, above.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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