The entrepreneur’s dilemma:
Maintaining friendships. Building a great company. Spending time w/family. Staying fit. Getting sleep.
— Randi Zuckerberg (@randizuckerberg) December 9, 2011
When I first posted this tweet in 2011, I discovered I truly touched a nerve, and not just among entrepreneurs. CEOs, parents, students, freelancers, and everyone in between seemed to be struggling with how to truly have it all, on their own terms.
The truth is that you can have it all — just not every day. Each day, you can pick three different things to focus on — work, sleep and family, for example — but in any 24-hour period, you can truly only have three at a time.
Since then, I’ve spent several years researching “Pick Three”: living my life by this mantra, speaking publicly about the benefits of being “well-lopsided” and, eventually, getting down to tachles — the essence — about how it all works for my second book, “Pick Three,” which is out this month.
While writing “Pick Three,” I scanned the globe, from India to Indiana, from Australia to Arizona, talking to people of every phase and walk of life about how they prioritize their own “pick three” and why. I studied the pros and cons of prioritization, and what happens if we become too lopsided in any one area, or what happens if we eliminate any one area altogether. (Like sleep — and, moms, we’ve all been there. Am I right?)
Without giving away too much from my interviews with the likes of Arianna Huffington, fitness guru Tony Horton and Karen Zuckerberg (because who can give better advice than a Jewish mom?), here are three of my biggest takeaways I learned:
1. You do not have to be an entrepreneur to suffer from the “Entrepreneur’s Dilemma.”
We are all busy. With the welcome — and sometimes annoying — addition/addiction of technology into our lives, we not only have to keep up with our day-to-day realities, we also have an online persona, personal brand and social life to keep up with, too.
We’re all trying to establish a sense of “balance” in our everyday lives. Hitting each of the Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness and Friends buckets on the daily is nearly impossible. But if we focus on nailing only three different tasks every day, we have a better chance of balancing out in the long run.
Everyone needs to prioritize, not just Fortune 500 executives. In fact, I’ve realized that it’s even more important to live life by “pick three” if you’re don’t have that high-powered career (yet!) because when you do, you’ll have a whole slew of resources to turn to. The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma is really Everyone’s Dilemma.
2. Get some sleep!
In “Pick Three,” I spoke with several sleep experts and doctors, as well as business superstar Arianna Huffington about her experience collapsing from overexhaustion. After her scary wakeup call, Arianna decided to step down from the Huffington Post and focus on personal well-being.
I was so inspired by her story that I took a step back and evaluated my own sleeping habits and — oy gevalt —was it bad. Between my major coffee habit, two young children and way too many nights spent on transatlantic red-eye flights, I realized I was heading for a potential collapse myself if I didn’t make some major changes, fast.
One thing we can all work on is how technology affects our sleep. Arianna talked about the importance of removing technology from the bedroom, and after reading a stat that 90 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds sleep with their phones right next to their beds every night, I made a resolution to put my phone away an hour before I go to bed myself. I’ve also been a big advocate of taking a Digital Sabbath, a weekly block of time to truly unplug, and have even served as spokesperson for the National Day of Unplugging.
Matthew Walker, a sleep scientist (yes, that’s a real profession), told me there is quantifiable data that heart disease is directly correlated to not getting enough sleep. He also said there’s a decrease in heart attacks when we gain an hour of sleep with daylight savings time. Every disease that’s killing us in the developed world has clear links to a lack of sleep and, with the average American adult sleeping less than the recommended seven hours a night, these diseases are killing us at a greater rate than other countries who respect the ritual of sleep.
So essentially, if you want to live longer, pick Sleep!
3. Find what Family means to you, and choose it often.
Family can be complicated, and I wanted to make sure this category fit everyone — not just people with children. Family can mean the family you were born into, a family you choose, a faith-based community that looks out for one another, or any number of definitions that morph throughout different stages of life.
While our personal well-being relies on being healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically, our happiness is rooted in family — a sense of community and belonging. While it’s easy to pick Family if you have young children to care for, it can be harder to remember to prioritize this if you live far from relatives or are working your way through a difficult situation. We are blessed that so many Jewish traditions and holidays are centered on family to remind us of the importance of prioritizing this area of our lives.
Living by the “Pick Three” mantra has completely changed my notion of what success and happiness looks like in my own life, and I look forward to seeing what it does for you. If you have any comments on your own experiences, or want to share what #PickThree means to you, please tweet or Instagram me @RandiZuckerberg to share your thoughts.
In the meantime, happy picking!