top of page
  • Writer's pictureLaura Roeven

Not Again! Quit Falling Into the Same Hole

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson


I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk I fall in. I am lost ... I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.


I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in the same place but, it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.


I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in ... it's a habit. my eyes are open I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.


I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.


I walk down another street.

Copyright (c) 1993, by Portia Nelson from the book There's A Hole in My Sidewalk.

Humans do this. When we are not present and aware, we rely on habit and can fall in a hole of our own making. The history we carry with us and the unpredictability of the moment are ingredients that can create the fall into the habit holes. Deep and slippery, it can sound whiny, obstinate or mean. Blame and not being mindful keep us in the hole longer. One way to “walk around or down another street” is by keeping a goal in mind. This changes the language and focus of our mind.

Habit-Hole of Mind: The Work Around

Any thoughts that feel defeating, tiring, or compressing can be re-routed with a goal. What is my goal for how I want to feel today? Energetic. Grounded. Curious. When I have a goal, it is much easier to see the “hole in your sidewalk” when it is happening. The habit does not align with the goal. Returning to the goal means returning to choice.

Avoid the hole?

I see that I am near what takes me off course. The hole might be the doughnut station at work, a conversation that starts to tear down another, or a text that tanks my energy. How do I avoid the habits that lead me off course? Keep walking. Past the doughnut station. Direct the conversation to a positive. Breathe to get grounded before responding to the text until I am in the mindset of my goal. I can choose to refrain from speech or action until my mindset firmly re-aligns with the goal.

Walk down a different street?

Choose an activity or prospect that is entirely new. Learning, striving, trying and beginning all describe a different street. I may be doing the same activity but the terrain is entirely new because my goal has reoriented the landscape. A different street of the mind is fresh, curious and a beginner’s mind. Feel free to set up your free 20 minute session if you would like to hear more about a “beginner’s mind”.

Coach’s Corner Questions:

  • What mindset do I want?

  • Am I replaying a story that keeps me from that?

  • What would be helpful to think about for supporting next steps in my plan?

Habit-Hole of Action: The Doing Differently

Smiling, I wake up to the moment. Doing things differently comes from the ability to see what I am choosing in the moment. Is this routine serving my goal? Is it time to try something new?

Having a goal marries my thoughts to my actions. If my mindset goal is “Curious”, my actions can be learning, engagement, new. Branching from my thoughts and words, my actions become in line with my goal by my doing. I need think the talk. Think the walk. Walk the walk.

Coach’s Corner Questions:

  • What is my goal for my actions today?

  • What do I need to do to ensure ease and success?

  • What support can I ask for to do what is next?

Next week: How can having a goal in a relationship change the outcome? Stay tuned!



131 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page