GUILT – That uncomfortable, yet ubiquitous feeling that seems to never go away. Every day, we feel guilty about so many things: being a workaholic, not being productive enough, not having enough time to hang out with family & friends, etc.
The list is endless. Does it ring a bell?
We live in a society that puts a lot of pressure to balance it all perfectly well. We have been programmed to think that successful people can handle it all every day. But is it realistic?
Randi Zuckerberg pushes back against the idea of a well-balanced life. And in her book Pick Three is an easy self-help guide to achieve “real” balance in all areas of life.
You are the definition of a superwoman wearing different capes every day as a mom, entrepreneur, author, and speaker. How do you pick a project that you want to be involved with?
First of all, thank you. That’s incredibly kind, especially since I am 8 months pregnant right now and can barely walk down the street, let alone feel super at anything! But women truly are superheroes. For me, my passion is supporting other women who are performing at the top of their game – and just need that small boost up to get there – whether that’s in technology, business, theater, running their household, you name it. Sometimes I’ll invest in a particular entrepreneur or project if I think it’s something where I can truly be helpful, sometimes I’ll try and give advice that can scale to many people through my books, my radio show, or my mentorship and coaching platform, Zuckerberg Institute.
Where were you in your life when you were writing your book,
I was raising my two young sons while traveling 100 days a year to speak at events around the world and simultaneously running my own business back at home. Oh, and trying to have some semblance of maintaining health, fitness, and friendships. I love everything I do, but definitely felt the guilt creeping in and the sleep going bye bye. The concept of Pick Three (Work. Sleep. Family. Fitness. Friends. Pick Three) has saved me and my sanity more times than I can say, and writing the book definitely could not have happened at a more perfect or necessary point in my life!
In your book, you discuss the concept of being “well-lopsided” as the key to success and happiness. Please tell us more about that.
I’ve always believed that in order to achieve excellence in anything, you need to give yourself permission to really focus on that area of your life, even if it means that other things need to temporarily go on the back burner. If you ask anyone to tell you the one or two things they are most proud of in their life, they will start talking about times when they weren’t well-balanced at all. That’s why I am a huge advocate for being well-lopsided. In the long run, you can’t ignore or sacrifice areas of your life forever, but sometimes it is essential in order to thrive, or even simply survive, in the short term.
What was your motivation behind this book?
As a woman in technology and business, I’ve gotten used to being the only woman in the room, the only woman speaking in a panel discussion. And I noticed that I would be the only one who would get asked: “how do I balance it all?” It made me curious; when did work/life balance become an issue only for women? Doesn’t everyone have to make decisions and trade-offs about their time, regardless of gender, age, work, or marital status? I started diving deeper into different theories around time management and how we prioritize different aspects of our lives, and that’s how I came up with Pick Three. It took me almost seven years from coming up with this mantra to writing a book about it. During that time, I’ve done countless research, spoken with experts across all five of the Pick Three categories, and honed/changed some of my own theories about what truly leads to balance, success, and happiness.
How did the Pick Three method originate? How does it work?
I was starting to figure out that in the real world, achieving anything of substance, whether at work, a personal goal, a health milestone, required intense focus and “lopsidedness.” Everything you say yes to in life means you are saying no to something else, whether that something else is sleep, or going to the gym, or dating, you name it. One day, out of sheer exasperation, I tweeted out: “The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma. Maintaining Friendships. Getting Sleep. Staying Fit. Having a Family. Building a business. Pick Three.” After the tweet went viral, I realized that this wasn’t just something that applied to entrepreneurs. Everyone struggles with how to manage the many demands on our time.
The Pick three method encourages us to choose three categories of our life each day – Why is it important to ONLY pick three?
Before I committed to Pick Three, I would go to bed thinking about everything I didn’t do that day. I had mile-long to-do lists and guilt that flowed even longer. However, I noticed that when I gave myself permission to Pick Three in a given day, I could easily accomplish everything I set out to do. And not only that, I did it well. I’d end the day thinking about everything I had done, rather than what I hadn’t. And I started making Ta-Da lists rather than To-Do lists (which I outline in the book). Now I’m not saying that you can only pick Three things and then you’re stuck with those same three things every day until the end of time. No, I believe in balance over the long run but lopsidedness in the short term. Every day is a new opportunity to pick a different three things.
How does the Pick Three method help people achieve balance over time?
The reason Pick Three exists is to give ourselves permission to be lopsided at a time when life is skewed in different directions. By focusing on a few tasks each day—varying what needs attention and when—we eventually will balance out. Sometimes we are lucky and we get to choose which three to pick. Sometimes life is crazy and throws wrenches at us and picks for us. Either way, whether you are on top of the world or simply treading water, giving yourself permission to focus on a few things and freeing yourself from the guilt of not being everything to everyone can make a huge difference in our overall happiness and well-being.
We live in a culture that puts a lot of pressure to balance everything and get it perfectly right. How do you think we can change that?
It’s easy to look at social media and think that everyone else’s lives are perfect. But peer beneath the surface and you’ll find that everyone is struggling. If you try and do everything well every day, you are setting yourself up for failure and mediocrity across every category of your life. Personally, I’d rather be great at a few things than average at everything! But it definitely takes time, mindfulness, and focus to get to that place and to give yourself permission to be ok with being “lopsided.”
What do you hope for readers to take away from your book?
No one’s life is perfect, regardless of what it looks like on the outside. We’re all just trying to live the best way we know how. Comparison and judgment won’t make you happy, it’s actually the opposite, so avoid being hard on yourself at all costs. Being mindful and careful about what you focus your time on, even if it means saying no to things, will help you be happier, more successful, and yes, more balanced, in the long run.
You’ve had an amazing professional journey, from Facebook director of marketing to founder of the Zuckerberg Institute. What is the one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs that are just starting?
Every single day is a new opportunity to make choices, to reconsider how you are going to spend your time, and to prioritize the things that truly feed your soul. I love seeing the entrepreneurs I mentor and coach through the Zuckerberg Institute start ditching the guilt and giving themselves permission to accomplish greatness. Nobody becomes an entrepreneur because they want to be mediocre – if you’ve made the decision to start your own business, this is the time to dig deep, focus,and build something you can truly be proud of.