The other day I overheard a conversation in which one someone remarked, “Well, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

It’s a common idiom, but one that’s always bugged me. Why on earth would I want a cake if I can’t eat it? That’s just dumb.

So why do we believe that we can’t have both? It seems to me that life is pretty good for most of us… Sure, it has its challenges, but there’s no reason we can’t enjoy some cake.

Here’s the catch: you just have to bake it first.

But imagine if you went to all the effort of baking your cake, but did so on a whim and with no recipe. There’s a very good chance your cake won’t look or taste like what you had in mind, right?

Yet I see business owners and professionals approaching their careers in this fashion every day. They put a whole lot of time, effort and money into it, stir it up real good, and fire up the oven as hot as it can get so the cake will bake faster… and they wonder why they’re left feeling burnt out, with nothing of value to show for it.

Here are the magic ingredients to building a sweet business or professional career:
1. Set clear goals, in writing.
This is the picture on the outside of your cake box. I recommend 5-10 year goals (as far out as you’re personally wired to see), then work backwards into 3 year, 1 year and 90-day goals.

2. Outline the steps needed to achieve those goals.
The cake box doesn’t come up with a separate recipe book. It’s all right there – a clear vision (the picture), and a few simple steps to follow. Similarly, keep your action plan simple – on one page, even. Think in 90-day chunks, with bullet points with deadlines for each step.

3. Have the discipline and accountability systems in place to ensure you carry them out.
The more often you look at your 90-day plan, the more likely you are to execute it. Print it out and use it to track your progress. Then plan the next day before you leave the office each night.

Leave out one of these key ingredients, and it will affect your end result.

(Once when I was 11 I forgot to add the flour when baking cookies. Trust me, my “customers” noticed.)

It takes a combination of the chef, the recipe, the system and tools to pull it all together. Once you follow those steps in sequence, by all means, eat your cake. Celebrate it. Share it with others. Sell it. Duplicate it. Get it featured in the media. It’s gonna be worth talking about.


About Your Columnist

Karie Kaufmann is a featured columnist for Women Taking Charge, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers everything about “action and results” in growing a successful business. Since 2005, Karie Kaufmann, MBA, has coached over 400 business owners to achieve their goals, with her clients reporting an average of 31% increase in revenues year over year. Her passions include: her family, her dog, food, traveling, shoes, spreadsheets, iced coffee, and helping business owners grow their profits.


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