Tal Gur is a multi-disciplinary serial entrepreneur, coach, traveler and financial freedom enthusiast. He has over 15 years of experience founding and running internet startups, creating courses and developing software.
I was enormously inspired when I discovered his bucket list of 100 life goals including Ironman triathlon, non-stop travel, financial freedom and only 10 years Tal gave himself to achieve them all. As a result, I created a list of 100 exciting things I want to do before I die.
Today, I’m thrilled to share my interview with Tal Gur where he reveals his most influential habits, routines and secrets of the art of fully living.
What are the most influential habits in your life and why?
My habits always change as I evolve but the overall structure remains the same. I have a set of morning rituals, workday rituals and evening rituals, and each plays a supportive role in the specific journey I’m on.
For example, during my freedom year (the goal was to become financially free), my morning habits included waking up at sunrise, drinking 3 glasses of water as soon as I woke up, moving my body with a few stretches and exercises, and drinking a healthy meal. My workday rituals included making a must-do list, putting first thing first, and focusing on just one thing at a time. My night rituals included reflecting on the day, and imposing an electronic curfew.
If I had to choose the most important habit during that year it was keeping track of everything I had done during the day. In fact, I’ve been so fascinated with the science and art of habit development that it even lead me to develop a software to track my daily habits, goals and tasks.
How do you set goals and manage time?
I have a simple step-by-step system for setting goals. I usually start by evaluating my options using consequences mapping (which is basically a graphic organizer that requires me to think about the potential long-term impacts of potential goals). Once I’ve decided on my big goals, I break them down into sub-goals — achieving these benchmark sub-goals means I can have frequent victories along the way, which in turn helps momentum. Each subgoal gets then broken down further into action steps. I also use supporting habits to help me reach my goals. These are the basics and I delve a bit deeper into this process in my free guide, design your dream year.
One important element that I also recommend in my goal setting guide, is choosing to focus on one project at a time. Most goal-setting methods don’t work because they try to get people change everything at once. This can seem quite tempting, but in my experience, it translates into mediocre outcomes. By taking on too many goals at once, you simply spread your energy and focus thin.
How are you modeling your life?
I don’t model my life after other people. Having said that, I do get inspired by others, but there’s nothing like following your own intuition and the truth of the moment.
In 2014, for example, guided solely by intuition, I packed one suitcase and a small bag, said one last goodbye to my apartment, to the U.S., and to the life I had planned, and hopped on a one-way flight without a concrete plan to welcome me. I often model my life based on the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
Can you describe your work process and thinking behind it?
I start my working day with a to do list. It is probably one of the most important tools for improving productivity, yet it is frequently ignored. Without it, it’s difficult to prioritize my work. The list I create only includes tasks I want to complete by the end of the day. I call it my “MUST DO LIST” and I’m very selective about what goes onto it. Whatever I get done beyond this list by the end of the day, is simply a bonus.
Next, I look at my list and put first things first by asking myself: if I focused on three things today, just three things, which ones would give me the most leverage by the end of the day?
The goal with putting first things first is to prioritize list in a way that is aimed at long-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear to be urgent. Working on low priority items just because they are in front of you, leads to wasted time and ineffectiveness.
Finally, I focus on just one thing at a time. In the past, I used to juggle between tasks and allow background noise to continuously interrupt me. Not anymore. Multitasking offers the illusion of getting more work done faster, when in reality the opposite is true. Every time you switch tasks there is an extra fetching time that can add up to substantial amounts of wasted productivity. On this notion, I recommend reading the book Deep Work by Cal Newport.
What do you eat for breakfast?
I usually have a smoothie or juice in the morning. They are easy to make, healthy, super easy to digest and have plenty of micronutrients in them. I also make sure the fruits are of high quality and with high levels of antioxidants (such as blueberries) and low glycemic index (GI) so that the sugar is released into the blood in a slow, sustained manner.
How do you train your body and mind?
I practice meditation and yoga whenever I feel my mind is becoming too cluttered. Usually in the morning. I also have short, unplanned sessions of meditation during the day. It seems to work very well for my lifestyle.
“The end goal is not the meditation itself so much, but the practice of keeping a meditative state throughout the day — to be more present, more peaceful, more aligned.”
I believe meditation is merely a tool to live our lives in a more fruitful way. The end goal is not the meditation itself so much, but the practice of keeping a meditative state throughout the day — to be more present, more peaceful, more aligned.
How do you meet and connect with people?
Even though I have an online presence, I much prefer connecting physically, face to face. Luckily, I’ve adopted a lifestyle that allows me to be mobile and work/live wherever I want.
What are your sleeping rituals?
Sleep is by far my most important renewal factor. In order to maximize the benefits of sleep, I make sure I follow natural sleep cycles. A complete sleep cycle is about ninety minutes long and I usually go through five sleep cycles (7.5 hours). I don’t really use alarms because they interrupt the natural sleep cycle. Our body simply wants to complete the cycle it was in. If I use an alarm, I set it based on a sleep cycles calculation.
What are your investing habits?
I’m not by any stretch a savvy investor, but I strongly believe in investing in my own businesses. I’ve tried investing in real estate and the stock market but I lack the knowledge and passion to make wise choices. My online businesses provide me ongoing financial freedom, enjoyment and satisfaction, all while traveling around the world.
More than anything, I strongly believe that the most valuable investment I can make is an investment in myself — my human capital: the skills, knowledge, and experience I built throughout the years, the personal relationships I’ve developed, and the strength of character I’ve come to know. I believe they provide me with the ability to generate income in any economy and under any circumstance.
What books, people, experiences shaped your thinking?
I believe in experiences more so than books. In fact, every year, around the New Year period, I pick one primary focus for the upcoming 12 months. That simple yearly ritual has allowed me to immerse myself in many different areas and as a result of it, it’s spurred more growth.
In previous years, for example, my yearly focus had shifted from extreme fitness (trained for an Ironman triathlon) to freedom creation (became financially free), to Round the World travel. Each experience has shaped me into the man I am today.
This year’s focus is on sharing my 100 life goals story with a larger audience than my blog. I’m writing a book called The Art of Fully Living, and hope it will inspire readers to embark on their own exploration journey.
If you are interested in more in-depth interviews with high achievers check all my interviews in the habits and routines series.
Originally published at tomaslau.com on August 15, 2017.