The idea that moms can “have it all” is toxic. And Randi Zuckerberg — CEO of Zuckerberg Media, accomplished author, and mom of two, and, yes, sister of Mark — knows this.
In her new book, Pick Three: You Can Have It All (Just Not Every Day), she outlines how to be an effective “lopsided” person. Essentially: Every day, you’re not going to be able to be fully present for everything on your plate, which can be broadly categorized as Family, Work, Health, Friends, and that elusive state known as Sleep.
So instead, Zuckerberg suggests we should pick just three of these “buckets” to focus on each day. As she recently wrote in an essay for Kveller, “if we focus on nailing only three different tasks every day, we have a better chance of balancing out in the long run.”
Zuckerberg answered a variety of questions from Kveller — covering everything from religion to her favorite TV show growing up — over email. Read on to see what she said.
What do you find to be your biggest challenge in picking three?
Only picking three! Even after years of living by this philosophy, I still occasionally try to go for all five in one day. It never ends well.
Where does religion fit into this? How does one pick Jewish practice, or whatever their faith they belong to?
Judaism — or any religion for, that matter — can fit into many different categories. The spirituality aspect can fit into Fitness (which broadly covers “health”), the traditions can fit into Friends or Family, depending on where and how you are celebrating, and the opportunity to unplug on Shabbat can leave more time to focus on the people and things you love. If you’re planning for an upcoming bar/bat mitzvah, you might agree you could classify it as Work!
You write “No matter which Pick Three I choose, Family always chooses me.” Do you ever not want to pick Family?
Even through stinky diapers, temper tantrums, early mornings and late nights, I will always want to choose Family. “Family chooses me” means that, no matter where I roam or where life takes me, I am forever bound to the love and support of my family — even when I can’t choose to focus on Family that particular day.
A major theme of your book was relying on those around you for support — a spouse, or parents, or friends. What advice do you have for those who don’t have support networks, or those who don’t have the means to create support networks?
Nobody gets through life alone. This is where local religious communities can play a big role in supporting people who may not have family close by or the financial means to outsource things like childcare. In my book, I interviewed a woman who credits her friend group for literally saving her life while she was waiting for a heart transplant.
The list of people you spoke to was extremely impressive. Who do you see as your book’s audience, and who could benefit the most?
I was inspired and impressed by every interview — it’s truly amazing when you hear people’s stories and understand why they have come to prioritize different things. Nobody — no matter what age, what stage of life, what background — can have it all, every single day, and it’s something we all universally struggle with acknowledging.
I think that anyone who feels like their life has spiraled out of control, or feels an overwhelming amount of stress and pressure to keep up with everything and everyone, will get a lot of benefit from this book. Recent college grads, new parents, those transitioning jobs, and others who are seriously lacking in one of their five buckets will learn how to prioritize that lack. And anyone who has ever said the words “work/life balance” will find something that applies to them in Pick Three. So, basically… everyone?
We love the concept that you don’t need to find balance — it’s okay to be lopsided! — but what happens when something you pick doesn’t pick you back? For example, what if you’re working a job (or two) that just doesn’t allow you to get sleep?
Yup, we all have those days. I had one the other day when I planned to get a good night sleep and then all the fire alarms in my house went off in the middle of the night. Kinda ruined that plan. The wonderful thing about Pick Three is you can choose those again another day.
But even better is you have the choice on how to respond to not being chosen. You’re working two jobs and picked Sleep — but your second job went into overtime and you have to wake up early to get the kids to school. Instead of considering this a failure and beating yourself up, write it down and note that you didn’t get to choose Sleep. Make sure you choose Sleep again that same week and make up for its loss. Pick Three is about playing the long game, not focusing on the short term. It’s your choice how you respond to setbacks.
Where does entertainment or leisure, like watching your favorite TV show, fit into Pick Three?
For me, that would fit under Friends. That’s sort of my catchall bucket for things that are fun. But I understand that, for some, watching Game of Thrones might be it’s own life bucket. Everyone should feel free to create their own five categories if mine don’t fit the bill – maybe TV or Entertainment is it’s own category for some people. For some who work in the entertainment industry, watching content might even qualify as work!
What was your favorite TV show growing up?
It’s Tuesday night, and by the time you get home from work everyone’s starving. What’s for dinner?
Whatever Seamless or Uber is delivering.
What’s your go-to outfit?
Depends on where I’m going. But black boots, skinny jeans, a blazer, my STEMinist T-shirt, and an Accessory Junkie conversation piece necklace have never steered me wrong.
What’s your favorite Jewish custom or tradition?
Shabbat dinner with my family. No matter how busy the week is, it’s a non-negotiable that we celebrate together.
What’s the last thing you do before bed?
Kiss my husband and sons good night. Sometimes it’s over FaceTime, but it always happens.
Header Image via Randi Zuckerberg on Instagram.