This is another cliché that is routinely misunderstood. The use of the word “have” implies that you are going to consume it so, of course, you can’t eat the same thing twice.
The literal meaning of have in this instance is to keep or save. You can’t save your cake and eat that same cake.
If the underlying message here is that you can’t have it both ways, my answer is that it depends on what itis. If the cake is your paycheck, for instance, then you can certainly save some of it and consume the rest. If the cake is your leisure time, you are not going to be able to preserve it without making a few sacrifices if you want to get or stay fit.
Can you live an enjoyable life in the present and save for retirement? Absolutely. Can you sit on the couch and exercise at the same time? Probably not. The value of the message is reliant on the intent of the recipient.
If you spend all your money every time you get paid then, of course, you will have nothing left when it is time for you to retire. If, however, your version of having your cake and eating it too is finding the balance between enjoying your everyday life comfortably and being ready for the future as well, then that is a perfectly achievable goal.
If you believe that you can get fit by laying around, you are eventually going to have to make a change in your thought process. You either must be content being idle and sacrifice your fitness or you will have to get off the couch and start exercising to stay or get into shape.
Your options and the decisions you make regarding them are an integral part of your life. The choices you make say a lot about who you are and what you value, and it is always in your best interest to create and preserve as many options for you to choose among as possible.
Conversely, a limited number of options limits your decision-making power, so it is important not to let yourself fall into the either/or trap hinted at by this cliché. If you find that you are facing what feels like an ultimatum, that is a great time to pause and really think through the choice in front of you.
You will be in situations that involve an all or nothing, this or that option, but most of the time you will avoid unnecessary limitations in your decision making simply by taking a little bit of time to consider other options and alternatives that will lead to a better solution for you and possibly everyone impacted by your decision. Maybe you can think about that while you have a piece of cake!
By Scott Arney, Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Patrolmen’s Federal Credit Union.
This article is part of Arney's new series, entitled A New Use for an Old Cliché.
This installment is part of Arney's educational series, entitled The Serial Decision Maker.