Are you the type of person who doesn't like to make waves? Maybe you were raised to be a "good girl." Or maybe you were taught that you should be polite and make people happy.

While being a rule follower is not necessarily a bad thing (it can serve you well in many circumstances), there are also times when breaking the rules might be just what you need to live a better life.

Bending--or breaking--a few rules could even be good for your career. Whether you break official rules (like you take a stand for a cause you believe in even though it goes against your company's policy) or you break some unofficial rules (like you quit following the gender norms in your family), rebellion might be the key to your success.

But breaking the rules can be tough, especially for women. Studies show one of the reasons women apologize more is because they have a lower threshold for wrongdoing, meaning they feel compelled to follow the rules and feel guiltier about minor rule violations than men. And there's a good chance following the rules too much might be holding women back.

Kids Who Break the Rules Become Wealthier Adults

There is substantial evidence showing that breaking rules from time to time can contribute to success--especially when these rule violations date back to childhood. Developmental Psychology published a 40-year study that found that kids who broke the rules were most likely to earn more money as adults.

The rebellious kids-turned-adults didn't necessarily have the most prestigious job titles according to society, but they were making more money than the well-behaved, studious kids.

The possible reasons for this outcome offered by the authors of the study were "perhaps the kids who broke the rules weren't afraid to ask for raises more often" or "maybe they were more likely to become entrepreneurs and innovators who blazed their own trails."

So the lesson to learn from this is to do what works best for you, despite all of the articles that will tell you what you should do to be the most successful or productive. Keep in mind, though, that learning about the methods of other people who are doing great things is still helpful. There is a lot to be learned from them. Just don't feel that you have to copy anyone. You might be surprised to find that breaking a few rules might help you find the right path for your own success.

Breaking a Few Unwritten Rules Might Open Doors

You don't necessarily need to break laws or official policies to advance your career. Perhaps you just need to ditch a few gender norms or quit following advice from men.

Lori Greiner, the "Queen of QVC" and cast member of Shark Tank, goes to bed between 1 and 2 a.m. And what does she do right before bed? She told Parade magazine she exercises.

Apparently, she's not following the advice touted by many other successful people about the importance of an early bedtime. Perhaps you've heard Richard Branson wakes up at 5 a.m. and Tim Cook gets up by 3:45?

Lori doesn't buy into the "early bird gets the worm" rule. She is naturally a night owl, and this is what works for her.

Be a Rebel With a Purpose

All of this being said, remember not to confuse breaking the rules to take a stand with simply being disrespectful. Many people choose to ignore rules or violate policies because they are disinterested or lazy, saying things like "They are just going to have to deal with it." Don't let this be you. If you are going to be a "rebel," then do so with a purpose.

Keep in mind that breaking a few rules, however, can give you the satisfaction of knowing you live your life according to your own terms. And even though some people might not be pleased with your choices, you can find strength in knowing you stay true to your values and act according to your beliefs.

Published on: Nov 25, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.