How to get out of a rut

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In this episode, I discuss being in a rut — and getting OUT. Reinvigorating your life does not require dramatic change – it can be as simple as switching up your schedule, your surroundings, your routine, and your mindset. It's a chance to recreate some aspect of your life and feel renewed and inspired. Trust me, I know. I've been in a rut lately. I'm digging myself out, with big and tiny changes. Everyone can do this — for free!

In this Like a Mother episode I discuss…

  • My summer in Kentucky with my boyfriend and my kids
  • How to do something different every single day
  • Why a change of scenery can help you get out of a rut
  • How to switch your routine, one minute step at a time
  • How to put a new spin on your mindset


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Hey, guys. Greetings from Kentucky. I'm in Lexington, Kentucky, and you might know that I really live in New York City, and my kids and I are down in Lexington for more than a month. This is for a couple of reasons. One, my lovely boyfriend lives here now. He moved, and so it's a great time to spend with him.

But more than that, it's something different. We live in an apartment in New York City, which I love, but there's a lot of downsides to that when you are a mom and you've got little kids. They don't have outdoor space. Things like camp where they might run around out in nature all day, very expensive if you can find it at all. The city is just a pain in the ass in the summer. It's so hot. You feel like you need to go out all the time to get out of your apartment or you're inside of the window air conditioners.

Are you in a rut? I am.

More than that, this is about a change, and that's what I wanna talk about today. I wanna talk about the fact that you need to switch stuff up every once in a while in a big way. And in a little ways, every single day, I want you to do something different every single day.

For me, I was in a state of the doldrums. Yeah, I missed my boyfriend. Yeah, I had the city blues. But I felt like I just hit a rut at work. You might have noticed I haven't been posting a lot of really exciting blog posts lately. I felt like I was ready to network with some new people professionally. My kids, I was not enjoying motherhood like I do normally, so I needed a big change. I appreciate that not everybody can pick up and move to another region of the country for the summer. That's not for everybody. But here I am. Look, I'm in front of my boyfriend's cute little cottage here, and I can tell you that it is making a major change.

Change of scenery can help you get out of your rut

We've been here a couple weeks, and I'm getting my groove on. My kids are going to really fun camp right now. I have these long days in the hot Kentucky to figure things out, and you know what? Today, right now, I am broadcasting this wearing a tank top and sports bra because I'm going to a tennis lesson. I don't play tennis. I literally never played tennis once in my life. Zero. And I'm also really unathletic. I work out all the time. I'm fit. I can squat, I think, 250 pounds now and run really far, but I am super uncoordinated. So I'm already having pity on Tim, this tennis pro that's gonna meet me in an hour. I think he's gonna get the workout chasing my errant balls.

But these are big changes. And I get you can't always be making giant changes every day. But I read once a philosophy that I have implemented. It was, “You can't make changes in your life if you do the same thing.” Right? If you're doing the same thing. So maybe that's easy to apply to business. If you're hitting a dead end in your business, you can't be beating a dead horse. You have to try something new. If you are in a rut in your dating, you can't keep going back to Tinder with the same profile and then complain that you're attracting the same kind of guys. You gotta switch it up. Maybe you go meet guys at a club, and maybe you switch up your approach. Same with every single part of your life.

How to switch up your routine to get out of the doldrums

I know I've plateaued in my workouts. I just can't … I don't stay as fit with the same workout. Maybe I gain a little weight even though I'm doing the same thing, so you gotta switch it up and try something new, hence my tennis lesson. But it can be even small things. Right? It can just be small things. Drive to work a different day. Switch up your playlist. Cook a different food. Shop at a different grocery store. Maybe it's about reconnecting with an old friend you haven't seen for a while for no reason, we all drift in and out of each other's lives, that can reignite old memories, maybe rekindle an old relationship, even a girlfriend, platonic friendship.

And parenting, too. Implement … It's like I get in these ruts where my kids come home from school, and I'm like, “What are you doing here? Oh, that's right. You live here. I forgot.” Bringing that joy back into your motherhood. Maybe you start a new ritual with them. With my kids, I realize their 8 and 10, they're not really good at cooking. They should be able to cook a meal by themselves. This is bullshit. Last night, my son picked out a recipe for this really unhealthy macaroni and cheese. It did have some squash in it, but it was delicious and fattening. Doesn't matter. He had a really good time cooking, and he learned something. We reconnected in a new way.

Again, think … I bet if you sat down, picked up a pen and paper right now, you could write 100 things that you could do differently between now and the rest of your day, between now and the rest of the day. Even small things. Like, usually at night, if you brush your teeth first and then wash your face, switch it up. Or go brush your teeth in the other bathroom. Right? Switch up … Maybe kiss one of your kids first goodnight and then the other one. Switch it up.

How to change your mindset

All of these things are changing your mindset and changing your life in micro ways, but those resonate in macro ways. So I'm gonna report back, but I'm just giving you a hypothetical. Maybe I'm gonna go to this tennis lesson, and, listen, anything is possible. I might come back with a couple broken arms. I might come back and think I'm the next Venus Williams. I'll probably have some funny stories to tell my kids and my boyfriend at dinner, and that's gonna change the dynamic of the family. Maybe I start a new hobby or I make a new friend with this poor guy Tim that's gonna try to teach me tennis, or maybe there's some cool moms at this Kentucky health tennis club that I'm going to, and I need some new friends here. Who knows what amazing connections that's going to bring into my life?

I'm telling you. I was telling some friends a few weeks ago that I was coming to Kentucky and I was gonna take tennis lessons for the first time in my life, play tennis for the first time in my life. They were laughing at me 'cause they know I'm just a total klutz. And it came this week, and I was this close to chickening out 'cause it's not gonna be pretty. I can tell you this for sure. But you know what? I'm pushing myself. I'm challenging myself. I am trying to get out of my rut to make my summer, myself, my family, and my life the best it can be, and that is what I want for you too.

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour,, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.


  1. Katie Joy on July 30, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Well I moved to Bali!

  2. Terry on January 6, 2019 at 8:44 am

    I love this! ❤ #LiveLoveLaugh I’m working on a project that I am very excited about. I could really use your help!

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