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5 Women Break Their Own Rules

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Would you marry a shorter man? Move to the suburbs? These five women did what they swore they'd never do -- and boy are they glad.

Breaking Personal Boundaries

My Aunt Lucille has given me a lot of advice over the years, but one bit has always stuck with me: When I announced at age 12 that I would never eat red meat again, she said to me, "Why say never? Why not just say you won't eat red meat today? Then you won't have to go back on your word." And a year later, as I gave in to my overwhelming desire for a cheeseburger, I realized she was right.

I've thought about that conversation often -- especially when I hear someone make a bold statement like "I will never have children," or "I will never live on the West Coast." There's a real difference between declaring your principles ("I would never take drugs or cheat on my husband" are pretty good ones) and setting up nonnegotiable boundaries based on what's right for you at that particular moment in your life. After all, the things that would seem unimaginable at age 25 may become exactly what you want at 35. "Life is a work in progress," explains Patricia A. Farrell, PhD, a psychologist in New Jersey and author of How to Be Your Own Therapist (McGraw-Hill, 2004). "You need to leave yourself some flexibility, because you don't know when a job opportunity, a love connection, or the discovery of a new talent will totally change your perspective."

Here, five women who absolutely, positively swore they would never do something explain how going back on their word helped them move up and move on to a life they had never imagined possible.

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