Feeling Stuck? Use The Formula for Change to Break Free


John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

Stuckness can go on for years if you don’t do something to address it.

As a professional business coach, my role often comes down to “helping people become unstuck.”

All business ventures go through ups and downs. It’s normal.

But sometimes a normal down cycle persists or deteriorates until it turns into stuckness.

Here are 5 signs that you may be stuck. How many of these can you relate to?

1. Lack of Motivation.
Feeling a decrease in enthusiasm, drive, or passion for your work?
Finding it hard to get started? Or to stay motivated to continue?

2. Persistent Frustration.
Is feeling frustrated, irritable, or discontented becoming the norm for you?
Do you find yourself complaining frequently?

3. Feeling Stagnant.
Not making progress towards your goals?
Feeling like you’re in a rut? Losing your ability to think creatively?

4. Procrastination and/or Avoidance.
Are you putting things off until later or tomorrow? (Or avoiding things entirely?)
Do you feel overwhelmed?

5. Lacking Clarity of Direction
Feeling indecisive or uncertain about your purpose, goals, or the path you want to pursue?
Not sure what steps to take next?

Stuckness can go on for years if you don’t do something to address it.

The good news is that there’s a straightforward equation to jumpstart change and squash resistance.

Break Free with The Formula for Change

The formula looks like this: (D x V x F > R)

Created by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher, and then later refined by Kathie Dannemiller, this model proposes that the combination of dissatisfaction with the present, vision for the future and the possibility of immediate action must be stronger than the resistance being felt in order for meaningful change to occur.

When the “weight” of the (D x V) + FS is greater than the “weight” of resistance, nothing can hold us back.

Let’s unpack the formula.

In a nutshell, there are 4 key components you must address as a business owner.

1. Dissatisfaction

First off, you’ve got to feel unhappy about something.

It could be people related (like employee retention/workflow issues) financial based (such as lower than anticipated profit margins) or a more personal problem.

This is the ‘Why’ or the motivational factor in the formula.

To make this part effective, really dig into your problems, fears, and frustrations.

How bad is the pain? What are these problems costing you?

The more you are dissatisfied, the more you’ll feel obliged to initiate change.

2. Vision

Close your eyes for a second.

Imagine the best version of you (and your business!)

What do you see?

This is the ‘What’ factor of the formula – how you would like to be in the future.

Take some time to get in touch with what you really want…and why you want it.

How will your life be better? What future vision is so good that you are willing to do what it takes to make it happen?

The contrast between the way things are now and the way they could be after change can generate enthusiasm to replace fear and dissatisfaction.

3. First Steps

Even if Dissatisfaction with the present and Vision for the future are both high, nothing will happen until we get moving.

What do you need to DO to bridge that gap between where you are now and where you want to go?

The key with this step is to make those first steps small.

You don’t need the whole plan, you just need to know what you need to do first.

Taking those first steps is what gets you into momentum.

4. Resistance

The last piece of The Formula for Change puzzle is Resistance.

Change requires that you must bravely push outside of your comfort zone and face challenges head on.

This is when resistance shows up.

And if that resistance is stronger than your dissatisfaction, vision, and first steps…you’ll remain stuck where you are.

Resistance often sounds like “I’m not ready yet, this isn’t a good time, maybe I’ll do something at some future point.”

Break down resistance by asking questions like these:

  • Why isn’t this the right time? When will be the right time?
  • If you had done this three months ago, would today be better for you?
  • If you do nothing, what do you think is going to change in the next three months?
  • If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got. How’s that working for you?

Still Stuck? It Might be Time to Work with a Business Coach

The inertia that results from an inability to change, grow, and evolve is devastating to small business owners.

It holds us back. Keeps our dreams small. Stops us from pursuing opportunities whenever they come knocking.

If you have been feeling stuck lately or not sure where to turn next, consider reaching out for guidance and personalized support.

You can book a free 15-minute consultation call here. I would be happy to hear from you!

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner

become a better owner

If an owner wants a better business, first the business needs a better owner.

This post is part of my Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner. Visit the guide homepage to get my best advice and coaching exercises to help you with:

  • Mindset. Thinking like an owner and seeing the big picture of your business.
  • Planning. Deciding what you want, setting a goal, and making plans to get after it.
  • Habits. Changing your behaviours to help you get what you want.
  • Learning. Getting new information and developing new skills.
  • Growth. Facing your fears, stepping outside your comfort zone, and doing what it necessary to create the business of your dreams.