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  1. Business

Give your professional life a spring cleaning

Published Apr. 9, 2013

Spring is on the horizon and it's time to focus on a fresh start. You might clean your house; you might organize your closets; you might even clean out your garage. But when's the last time you did a spring cleaning of your professional life?

"You hear people talk about getting in a rut personally, but in work, this happens all the time, too," said Joseph Callaway, who co-authored the best-selling book Clients First: The Two Word Miracle with his wife JoAnn Callaway. "There are all kinds of bad habits that we don't even realize we take on when we're just focusing on the end goal of making money and paying the bills."

Callaway said he and his wife (who run a real estate company in Scottsdale, Ariz.) had a life-changing moment during one of their real estate deals that changed the course of their careers.

"We had been going back and forth with counteroffers between two clients and JoAnn looked at me and said, 'I don't think this is a good deal for either one. We should take it off the table.' … We realized that the right thing to do was to focus on helping them find the best fit rather than just getting the commission. … That shifted everything in our professional lives."

Since that eye-opening day, the Callaways continue to educate others on shedding those bad business habits and giving themselves a career spring cleaning. Here are some of their tips.

Avoid apathy. "Taking pride in what you do is a choice," Joseph Callaway said. "When you focus on getting better, that takes out those feelings of apathy. … I have found that there's a lot of people in any business, they've forgotten more than they know. They need to remind themselves. And this helps you feel more connected to your job."

Stop worrying and start doing. "A lot of us take the weight of the world on our shoulders," he said. "To get out of this habit, I recommend facing something that is causing the worry. Maybe spend an hour solving a problem you've been avoiding. The longer you don't face something tough, the more it blows up on you. Face the tough ones first."

Don't be too professional. "You don't want to just be all business, all the time," Joseph Callaway said. "Make time to ask a co-worker a light question about their family or where they're from and you will be amazed at what you learn. When you get to know people, you don't have to get personal and go to lunch — but it helps to break up the professional routine. Everybody has some kind of story and it can be fun to share."

Don't be stingy with your time and money. "There are some people who only give so they can focus on what they get in return," he said. "If you give and give freely, you will find that things come back to you with interest."

Don't do it all yourself. Joseph Callaway said that when it comes to your career, you shouldn't try to do everything yourself. Sometimes you need to put your trust in others. "It's really a critical point in your business when you trust someone else and put your faith in someone. They will feel it and they will deliver for you," he said. "But you have to put your faith in people to get you where you need to be professionally."

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