Corbett Barr

Lifestyle Business Weekly

Having Your Cake and Eating It

This post was written by Diggy of Upgrade Reality. Be sure to check out his blog if you haven’t before. Diggy is also one of the 44 Creative and Adventurous Bloggers You Should Know.


“You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

I heard this saying way back in the early grades of school and always saw it as some sort of riddle that I knew had to have a solution. The only way to have your cake and eat it is to clone your cake and eat the clone while keeping the original in the fridge.

The reason for the title of this post is that I think it resonates with many things in life.

It is something that I have struggled with and sometimes still do. I want so many different things. I have a desire to have lots of clothes, cars, houses, to be able to speak different languages and be skilled at many arts and crafts. This desire is not necessarily what I want, but the impulses to have and hoard all these things are there.

The reality of life is that you can only wear one pair of shoes at a time, you can only drive one car at a time and live in one house in one country at a time. The more you try to have many things of the same by having 6 different houses in different countries, having different girlfriends, having different cars for every week of the year, the more you are spreading yourself thin. Eventually by doing this, you get a little bit of everything but never a large amount of anything.

There are of course exceptions, but in general people are creatures of habit. We like to find a routine and get used to it. It is okay to change that routine every now and then, or to travel or take holidays.

What I’m saying is that often it is neccessary to make a choice of the things you love the most. There may be 8 things that you like a lot, but out of those 8, if someone put a gun to your head, you will always be able to choose 1 or 2 that you prefer over the others. This choice of the favorites is something that I strive to do. It makes life simpler and more enjoyable.

It is the same with work projects. You can have 10 great ideas, and start working on all of them simultaneously. Chances are you will burn yourself out before you even get any of those ideas off the ground and turn them into reality. I have personaly experienced that when starting out my internet marketing journey. I knew nothing about it, and while reading and learning, I continuously discovered new and different methods to make money online. Everytime I found a new method that sounded like it made sense, I started a new project with this method. This resulted in me starting tens of different projects and not completing a single one of them.

Of course this has been part of my learning process. I am happy to say that I am only focusing on 2 big projects right now, and I feel much more comfortable and feel like I’m making progress. We are able to achieve much more by focusing our energy and creativity one one or two projects instead of spreading it out between 10.

It is the same with life. Envision your life energy and happiness as a jar of raspberry jam. All these things that you want in life like friends, houses, shoes, cars and anything else can all be seen as slices of bread (some white, some whole wheat and some toasted). If you have too many slices of bread, you will get very little jam on each slice. Eventually you will not even have enough jam to put on the bread.

What kind of food is that, bread without jam? Not a very tasty one is it?

Sometimes it’s best making a choice of the thing you want and like the most, and to be content with the fact that you totally and completely chose the one thing you love the most out of everything.

One word of advice I would give about making the choice of what is best: choose that which your heart desires and what you are passionate about. Avoid choosing something because of greed or fear. Yes sure, other things may be great, and you may have to say no to them. However, in the end, the thing you are most passionate about is better than the other things were at the time. You should be able to have absolutely no regret about the choice you made.

In Dutch there is a saying: “rather one bird in the hand than 10 in the air”


  • Try focusing instead of spreading yourself thin.
  • It’s better to really achieve one or two things you want and enjoy than trying 20 things at one.
  • Sometimes you have to choose between having your cake and eating it, because it’s not possible to do both at the same time (unless you have that cloning device I mentioned before).
  • You have one life, live it and enjoy it!

Diggy writes all about self improvement at his blog Upgrade Reality. He hopes to help motivate and inspire people to reach their dreams and follow their passions. If you enjoyed this article, you can subscribe to his latest posts via RSS.

photo by ginnerobot

Corbett Barr

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  1. Hey Corbett!
    Thanks so much for using my post! I really hope your readers will enjoy it :) Merry christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year! :)


  2. Thanks for this post- I absolutely needed it tonight. I’m pulling my hair out over here trying to decide what to focus on first- my ebook, my video series, my design rehab- ahh! On top of working a stressful day job. I’ll try my best to just focus!

  3. You nailed it, Diggy! I can relate to all the different making money online methods out there. There seem to be an endless array of them and before I got focused I just tried everything.

    It wasn’t until I stopped spreading my raspberry jam all over the place that I started succeeding. Focus on less and get more done.

  4. Focus is huge. I constantly have to remind myself to keep my attention on only one or two major items. When I was building up my sight and the order process/workflow, I was running myself ragged. Now that I’ve finished with that I’m free to focus on my passion for photography. Great post Diggy!

  5. Hi Diggy,

    I’m not sure I agree with everything you said there… Focusing on specific things is a great tip for life, but I also feel that there is a need for generalists – those renaissance men who know a bit of everything, and can use that knowledge creatively to come up with new solutions to people’s problems.

    Simplifying, discovering a passion, and focusing on essentials are all good advice, but I can’t help wondering whether or not that “passion” can be something more general – at least that’s how I find it to be in my case, and enjoy the path I’ve taken tremendously :-)

    As a final note, I have met a lot of people who are struggling to even find a passion, and for them it might be better not to focus so deeply on single things, but to throw out a wider net and see what kinds of different fishes there are to catch, and maybe one of them will then turn out to be better tasting than others ;)


    • Hey Sami!
      Happy holidays to you man :)
      It does indeed take time to find your passion, but it’s more of a self-discovery than of going out and doing 100 things. You need to get in touch with yourself to find out what really makes you happy, and then finding your passion will be a lot easier :)

  6. Nice Post! I first saw it at Zen Habits. And I think you are on to something here. I have done many things in life, but really only one job. I am very good at my job, but have a bad habit of spreading myself too thin in my off time and only skimming the surface of recreational pursuits. This is the year of learning to focus. With focus, comes true enjoyment, I think. Writing has been part of my job for almost 30 years, but when I began focusing on the kind of writing I enjoy (and have a passion for) rather than the type I do professionally, I began to truly enjoy the experience.

  7. I know you are exactly right! Remember Mr. Miagi in the Karate Kid “You must stay focus Danielson” It is a funny line especially his use of tense! This comes from Buddhism and the monkey mind concept. When we can slow down the mind and or our activities to a specific thought or a series of actions we defeat the “monkey mind” and bring our thoughts and actions into submission. If we are focused on first one thing, then another we are like that monkey going from branch to branch aimlessly. I can always relate back in my life to the times I really focused on something and the almost magical way things worked out when I was not distracted. Great post!

  8. Kirsi L

    Thanks for thought-provoking post! This is close enough for your post on Zen Habits that I originally wanted to comment on that I dare express myself on this post’s comments.

    I agree that one should follow one’s passion. However, as Sami Paju already commented, there is also a need for great generalists. In fact, a while back I read something that caught my eye about importance of doing several things well – something that I have later verified by my own work. The key here is: there are very few people out there who have capabilities, or passion, to become so great that they do not need “supporting skills” to go with the package. In work life a great specialist is not that often even looked for, rather than “a great package” with a necessary skill set. Basic idea is that you need to create your own, possibly unique combination of skills that sets you apart. That is easier to achieve and also more fun. For instance, you may be a great computer programmer, but without sufficient communication skills no one wants to hire you. Unless you are so great they have no choice, and man are those cases rare. This makes often a more interesting and fulfilling career as well.

    You may be a great teacher, writer or public speaker in addition to your niche. This opens up a lot more possibilities in your field – and may give you a much better paycheck compared to those with “only” the expertise. You may understand a very broad set of concepts in your field but not on a very detailed level, or you may also have organizational and people skills. This sets you up the boss ladder, a choice you will most likely also enjoy based on the skill set you already developed.

    So yes, you better be good and preferably great at something. But often it is the unique combination that nails the perfect job. And yes, there is a broader way to look at this – sailing and computer science don’t match that well anymore. And then again, you can go work at a software company that writes navigation software, as a friend of mine did. So there is a risk to scretch yourself too much, and some focus is needed, but it may well be better to be great as a generalist – be good at a specific set of skills – than one alone.

  9. Good stuff Corbett – I honestly think that multitasking is vastly overrated. Instead of trying to do 50 things at once, getting sidetracked, and losing focus, I’ve found it to be MUCH more productive to (when possible) do one thing at a time, from beginning to end, and then move on to the next thing. Being able to cross something, for good, off the to do list feels great.

  10. Little Miss Stella

    Thank you for your site and posts. My goodness I have stumbled upon your writing at a very crucial time in my life. I am pondering these very issues and making these exact decisions.

    I sincerely look forward to reading everything and beginning this exciting journey…

  11. My understanding of that saying is: “You can’t have success without working hard.” rather than “Focus your life priority to 8 most important items”.

  12. It’s crucial to focus your energy on your highest-priority goals. If you try to do too many things, you won’t do anything well.

  13. I wish there was an app that you could tell to make you focus on two projects for two months (or two years). And the thing slapped you in the face every time you decided to pursue a new project. I get idea overload like crazy. I’ve got Google docs full of business ideas, anybody want some?

  14. Great post Diggy, I will be adding you to my list of sites to check out all the time. I couldn’t agree more about having your cake and eating it too.

    One analogy I like to use all the time to explain the debate between a jack of all trades and someone who commits to their life is the idea of searching for gold. if you pan handle in the river from time to time you are bound to find a few pieces but the person who figures out the best location and commits to digging a deep hole that will find far more gold and achieve much greater results. So stop pan handling around and start digging.

    I used to be a person who loved to pan handle and had some solid victories and kudos because of it, but I was never fully happy until I went through the process of giving myself permission to dig. For those who are not currently digging its the fear of possibly missing something better on the other side of the fence or the fear of failing. But we all know in our gut that it’s our true dreams that are way better than anything we might miss out on. And the fear thing, well it’s never go away so use it as a gauge to remind you you’re alive and doing something that’s a little scary but most importantly authentically you.

    One last comment to share is on the idea of belief and commitment and that what stops most of us from having our cake, is we don’t commit because we lack belief. We want instant results to tell us we’re awesome but that doesn’t typically happen. You must continuously put in hard, focus and effort before anyone else will believe you and when you have demonstrated true commitment and ability you will be showered with the rewards of your goals.

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