Ep.76: The Art of Fully Living with Tal Gur
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Today, we’re going to have a conversation with Tal Gur, a blogger and entrepreneur who is known for tackling 100 major goals all over the globe in 10 years. He is also a coach, traveler, and financial freedom enthusiast.
In his journey he learned key lessons along the way that allows him to share uplifting stories, bucket list ideas, empowering thoughts, and other resources to empower you. He faced self-doubt, struggled for his sense of purpose in life, and in today’s episode, teaches you the art of fully living.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
Read his book: HERE
Learn more about Tal: https://fullylived.com/
Robyn: Hey everyone, and welcome back to Vibe. I’m your host, Robyn Openshaw, and today, we’re going to have a conversation with someone who is off the beaten path from who we’re usually talking to. Tal Gur is a blogger, an entrepreneur, and he is an adventurer. I’ve just met him here on Skype, because I was really interested in reading a bit about what he’s done. He made a huge goal of tackling 100 major goals all over the globe, and he had a lot of challenges along the way that I want to talk to him about. But I think that he’s dreaming bigger than most of us, and I think he went for it.
He went for many hard goals that he probably accomplished, these 100 things, in shorter time than anybody I’ve heard of. He faced self-doubt, and he probably started with a struggle for his sense of purpose in life, but he discovered a lot of life-changing gifts along the way. On his website, which is fullylived.com, you can learn more about Tal and his 100 Life Goals project. So, welcome to Vibe, Tal.
Tal: Thank you. Thank you for inviting me.
Robyn: You’re an Israeli, and you told me that you haven’t been there in 10 years, but you’re back there right now. What’s up with that?
Tal: Yes. Well I’ve been a Nomad for almost six years, and it felt like a calling for home. I didn’t really plan to come back to Israel, but life in many ways directed me here. It’s funny because I came to the same place, but I’m a different person now. So I can see different things, I can value different things. And yeah, overall, I’m pretty happy with my choice, so far.
Robyn: Well I really have enjoyed reading about your journey, and you reached out to us to be on the show. And so I read about what you have done, and I thought, “That is really, really interesting. I’m going to go check out what he’s done. If it includes a significant amount of service, then I really want to talk to this guy,” and I was not disappointed. I read for a while about some of your different accomplishments, and I was like, “Wow. He is just really gone hard,” but then I read about your service, and your humanitarian accomplishments, as well. And so, while you and I haven’t talked about this, I kind of want to start there. Why was that included in your list of 100 goals? And, what are some of the things that you did?
Tal: Well, to be honest, it didn’t feel complete without contribution. You can really enjoy life, and seek pleasure, and achieve a lot and do a lot of things for yourself, but without the giving component, it just didn’t feel [right]. You know, the term is fully living. It just didn’t feel like I lived fully if I don’t give back. And actually, right now, after I kind of finished my journey and my mission, I know that I’m here for service. So, it just made me even more focused on service, and I can actually expand on that, if you want.
Robyn: I do want you to expand on that, because I think that a lot of people are missing that sense of life purpose. They might be 40, or they might be 60, and they might think, “Well I’ve kind of jumped from this thing to the next thing, and I don’t know still quite who I am and what I’m here to do.” Sometimes doing service helps you find that. So yes, expand on that for sure, and talk about some of your specific adventures in humanitarian work.
Tal: Sure. Well before I go to some of the examples, maybe let me kind of step back and say that I feel that a lot of people, in the beginning of their journey, they’re kind of seeking external success. It could be whatever, a relationship or, I don’t know, a good job, a new car. Whatever it is, money. And then, at some point, I feel that some people really go into a stage of seeking internal success, which is bringing more happiness or, let’s say, peacefulness to their life.
When I got to this spot, where I actually felt pretty happy with my life and pretty peaceful and on track, then came this idea of contribution, which I felt that, “Okay, I’ve got all this success, or I have all this peace, even in me, but for what?”
What are going to do with all those gifts? And then came the step of contribution, really, in a big way. Some of the projects that I’ve done were helping building a school in Dominican Republic, also organizing and building a home for someone who lost his home in Peru, like with mudslides. There were mudslides in Peru. I also helped in Bolivia to build a school, an English school, for someone who struggled. This is just some examples from around the world, but I’ve done some other stuff more locally, like, in a smaller way.
But to be honest, really, I feel that I didn’t give much. I still feel that I have so much to give, and that’s where I am right now in my life. Everything I do actually, even the projects that I take, I bring them from a mindset of service, not from a place of like, “What can I get out of that,” but “What can I give to that project, or to that person, and so forth?”
One of the benefits is that you get a lot out of that, as well, when you give so much. One of the things that I got is, I learned who I am. This is a big thing for me. We talk a lot about purpose, and how important it is. I feel that purpose is really linked to who you are in your essence.
Until you actually go and explore yourself on a high level, you don’t really know necessarily what is your gift. Here’s the thing. When you know who you are, you know what to give, you can actually really go for your purpose. You can really go and give that gift to the world, and contribute in a meaningful way. I find that is the best way for happiness. I know that everyone comes looking for peace and happiness, but for me, me giving my gift effortlessly is the formula really.
So, yeah, similar to you, I encourage people to just go and jump on some kind of a project of giving. And actually, maybe I say another thing here. One of the things that I did is I launched like a 30-day giving experiment, which basically meant that every day I gave something for an hour. It didn’t really matter what. I just said, “For one hour, I’m giving myself without wanting anything back,” and I kind of launched it on Facebook, launched it in another forum that I’m part of, and it was incredible. In a day, my whole calendar filled with people that actually wanted my help, and I was surprised, actually.
I was surprised what people actually wanted from me. Then again, that gave me more insight of who I am, and again, it was just brilliant, and I got so much out of that. So, there’s balance here, the whole idea of giving and getting.
Robyn: I love that. I love that you did an hour a day, even when you weren’t off doing some devoted week or two weeks of building a house in Peru, or another major humanitarian effort, like that of helping serve every day. And that way, you’re so mindful about it, and it becomes part of your day every single day. It becomes part of the fabric of who you are. That’s incredible. You’ve probably never been interviewed where that’s the thing that the person dives into first. But I just wanted you to know that I wouldn’t have interviewed you if I hadn’t seen that huge devotion to serving others.
I’ve been impressed with you on that level, so that’s why I started there. But, let’s back up and talk a little bit about why you spent 10 years completing 100 life goals, and some of these took you all around the world. What was your life like before you started that? What inspired you to do that?
Tal: Well I lived a pretty conventional life, in the sense that I did a bachelor degree and then I had a 9:00 to 5:00 kind of job. I had a career in IT. But again, I felt like something was missing. It was good, life was good in the sense of comfort, but I feel that I’m really designed for growth and adventure. I kind of hit the crisis point, where I asked myself big questions. “Do I really want to live like that?” It really took me to my first big goal, which was actually going to Australia and doing a master’s degree there.
The only reason I did a master’s degree in Australia was because it was an excuse for me to actually explore a new place, a new culture, just kind of getting out of my comfort zone. That was actually the first big goal. I didn’t know that, “I’m actually going to do 100 life goals, instead of 100 life goals around the world.” I didn’t really know. It just really happened, from just this one goal. I can share exactly how it happened from that point, but I’ll let you kind of decide if you want me to expand how I actually decided to go for the 100 life goals.
Robyn: Yeah. Tell me.
Tal: All right. So, when I was in Australia, actually, I went for a dinner with friends. It was kind of a random meeting, and we just started to talk about life goals, and bucket lists, and New Year’s resolutions, and stuff like that. One of my friend told me that he doesn’t plan so far ahead because his dad died when he was 40 years old. When he said that, something really hit me. I felt it in my stomach. I felt like, “Wow. How would I live my life if I only had 10 years to live?” At that time, I was 30 years old, and I kind of asked that question, and it hit me that I wouldn’t waste time. I wouldn’t wait until retirement.
I would bring more urgency to my life, and that basically started everything. So, I went back home. I made a list. It turned out to be 100 life goals, but I just started to write things. I kind of divided into 10 categories, 10 main categories, 10 areas of life that I feel I want to fully live. I said, “I’m going to live my life like I only have 10 years to live.” And yeah, that’s basically how it started. The first year, by the way, I didn’t do anything with this list. I just made the face. I totally kind of forgot about it. But the next year, I kind of again hit a point where I reviewed the list, and that started everything.
Robyn: So, what were the 10 areas of life?
Tal: Well the first year was the year of socializing. So, the first area was socializing. One thing I want to say about this project: I said every year I will have one big goal, one really big goal, and that would be the major focus of the year. So, for example, the second year was the year of fitness, and the big goal was Ironman triathlon, and a lot of goals are goals kind of led to that one big goal, which is pretty cool to do, like, you know, setting milestone goals along the way. The third year was the year of freedom, where I basically went for financial freedom. That was the big goal.
I gave myself one year to achieve that, and I could talk about that as well. And again, I went kind of year by year, until the last year was the year of creativity, where I explored like drumming and being on stage and composing electronic song and a lot of fun things. So, the last year was actually pretty fun.
Robyn: I’m sure you hit some challenges along the way. What are some of the biggest challenges that you faced, and what did you learned from them?
Tal: Well the biggest challenge actually happened on the seventh year. I think it was the year of relationship. That’s how I called it. Every year, I kind of gave it a name. I actually gave up on the list. I reached like 70-something goals at that point, but the big obstacle was my relationship, my romantic relationship, and I felt like I’m hitting the wall each time. Each time that I try to achieve it, I didn’t succeed, in many ways, with my achievements, and I wasn’t sure why. So, I decided to give up on the list, and just focus on my personal life and strengthening the relationship, but that didn’t work as well.
So, at some point, I actually kind of went back to the list, and the list really helped me, because I felt a little bit lost in life. So I kind of looked at the list and said, “What would be really fun to do?” And I actually went to dance salsa for 30 days, in Colombia. Really, just kind of like looked at the list, and in a way, it really saved me, because I went back to the whole project.
But the big obstacle was the relationship that actually collapsed. It was someone I really loved, but I got a lot of gift out of that crisis. That’s another thing that I actually write in my book, there’s kind of a mini chapter called From Crisis to Calling.
When I look into my journey, every crisis that I had, each and every crisis that I had, actually had a gift in it and led me to something greater. So nowadays, when I hit a crisis, I don’t even necessarily need to know what is the gift right away, because sometimes it’s hidden. But at least I know there is some gift behind it, and that actually allowed me to relax and kind of manage the crisis in many ways.
Robyn: Yeah, I think that all successful people come to some kind of conclusion, like what you just said, that there’s a calling that you find in the crisis that it leads to something greater. I’ve had the exact same experience. Every single hard thing that I’ve been through has made me more resilient, and more resourceful, and a better person, a deeper person, a more compassionate person.
And as you were talking about the focus, one of your 10 foci are relationships, and I was like, “Ooh, I want to hear about that one,” because you could be a very accomplished and oriented person, like you, and I mean not all your 100 goals are something you could do in two weeks.
I mean, I believe an advanced degree was one of them, and I almost want to look back on my last decade. I’m like 10 years older than you, but I almost want to look back on my last decade, and go back and write down 100 goals and then check them off, just for the sense of accomplishment.
But, I feel like the category of relationships is different, and we can’t even look at it like other things, where we have total control. If we say, “I’m going to get a PhD,” I am completely in control of finishing that goal, but staying married till death involves another person’s choices. It involves how I work together with that person.
What do you think about the fact that those goals are different, and that sometimes relationships have a lifespan? And before you answer that, I want to share with you a quote that I got from Amy Poehler, the comedian. I think I’ve mentioned her before. I haven’t even read her autobiography, I just read this quote from her autobiography, where she said, “I don’t consider the end of a 10-year marriage to be a failure,” or maybe she said, “I don’t consider a 10-year marriage to be a failure,” and that really hit me hard. It hit me hard, because I had spent a lot of the last decade in grief, or feeling like a failure, or feeling judged, often by my own extended family or my community, for walking away from a 20-year marriage, and there’re four children involved.
And so, I wonder what you think about that. I wonder what you think about the difference between our relationship goals, and that, sometimes, maybe the outcome is a peaceful end to a relationship, or taking the good from it and moving forward and not so much clinging to it and letting the end of it ruin the next 10 years of our life. What are your thoughts on all of that?
Tal: Well, one thing I want to say, before I talk about relationship, is, for me, the end goal is not the most important thing. What’s really important is the person you become along the way. So, the goals, or the 100 life goals, it’s a cool story, but it’s just a container for personal development, for personal growth.
(Also, one thing I want to say about my goals: the 10 categories were fixed, but I allowed myself some flexibility within those categories. So, I allowed myself to adjust different goals and change from time to time, but it was always like 100 life goals, always within the same 10 categories.)
Okay, going back to relationships. First of all, the most important relationship is with yourself. So, you always have yourself in that sense, if you really want to have a good relationship there. Sometimes people come, you think that they will stay for the rest of your life, but they come for a lesson that maybe you need to learn.
It’s good not to cling to a relationship in that sense, because sometimes personal development would be to get into that relationship, but also, personal development could be to get out of that relationship. And sometimes, you need to know when is the right time. I really feel like the whole concept of failure is [wrong]. It’s really, really important to define failure.
If you define it in terms of end results, then, again, there’s the whole idea of clinging, and there’s no real personal development. There’s no really growth because the truth is always in the moment. You can’t really [predict]. You know, you look into the future and you say, “Yeah, I want that,” but you don’t really know if it’s going to come your way.
There’s always insights in that sense of coming. So, for me, my definition of failure is pretty flexible. Failure for me is not pursuing a goal. It’s just to pursue. If I don’t go for what I dream, for what I want right now, that would be failure. Not the trying, the actually going for it.
If I achieve it or not, that doesn’t matter as much. So that’s not failure for me at all, and that really helps to actually go for what I went for. I feel a lot of time people basically give up already from the beginning, because they don’t believe that they going to achieve the end result, especially like really, really big goals.
Like let’s say, I don’t know, financial freedom. It’s a big goal. It requires a lot of effort. If you go to it without being okay to “fail” along the way, and do mistakes, it won’t happen. Also, if you worry too much what other people think, it may not happen, because you would say, “No, no, no. I don’t want to do that, because I may fail.”
But that’s not really better. You already failed by not going for what you want. That’s basically it. So, I think mindset is really important here.
Robyn: When I was in graduate school, I did two years of practicum, and one of them was with kids who are at the very end of the line, that failed out of foster care. They all come came from broken homes. A lot of their parents were prostitutes, or drug addicts, or in prison, so these were kids who had lived a rough life. And here they were at 10, 12, 14 years old, where they were with us in therapy.
I did a lot of individual therapy, and a lot of group therapy with them, and I remember one of my mentors in that second year practicum I did. He was observing me run a group session with these kids, and he said to me, after the session, he said, “You’ve got to realize that it’s the process, not the outcome. It’s the process, not the product that’s valuable here.”
I realized that I had been trying to force some outcomes in this hour or two hours that I would spend with my group of kids. It struck me like a thunderbolt, because I realized that it wasn’t just in how I was running groups for my clients that I wanted a specific outcome, and that I would be well served by letting go of the outcome, and that attachment to outcome. But also, to just enjoying the process. So it sounds like that is something that you achieved too. I’ve come to realize about myself that I’m always gunning for the finish line on a project, and then I realized that I’m actually in love with projects.
I just actually like doing the project. And so, once I realize that about myself and I realized that the project itself, the doing of it, is at least as pleasurable as getting to the end and launching a book and hitting bestseller lists or whatever. I actually like the different parts of the process. It sounds like you discovered something like that, too?
Tal: Yeah. I actually call it process over outcome. I mean, the outcome is important because it gives you a direction, and the keyword here is direction. It’s not necessarily, again, achieving what you want. It’s that you have a direction. You can look at it and say, “That’s where I’m heading.” I value the process more, for many reasons actually. First of all, a process is actually in the present moment, where an outcome is really in the future, and you don’t have full control on the future, but you do have control on what you’re doing right now.
You can decide, “All right, this is my habit, and this is what I’m doing right now. I’m going to send 100 emails today asking [someone] to help me,” or something like that. That is in your control. So, I like that when I focus on the process.
The other thing is a process is ongoing, which mean you can actually really enjoy it along the way. Whereas, an outcome is usually a one-time result. When you actually get to the end, when you reach it, then that’s it, you’re done. The process is something like you go again and again and again.
Yeah, that’s just a few reasons to kind of value process over outcome. I feel they’re both important, but again, I focus on the process. That’s the main point here.
Robyn: Another mentor of mine, Dan Sullivan … I’m actually flying tonight to a little one-day conference he puts on, but he taught me about the gap and living in the gap.
People who are pushers and achievers like you and me, maybe we set a goal that we’re going to start a business, and it’s going to intake $2 million dollars in year two. We get to the end of year two, and we made $800,000. What an overachiever will do is that they’ll look at the difference between $800,000 and two million, and they’ll measure themselves that way. But what a more emotionally healthy person is going to do is that they’re going to look at that $800,000, and they’re going to measure it from zero, which is where they were at the beginning.
They’re going to really live in that, and that is going to be their fuel to the next project, but I like what you’re saying. What you’re saying is that if you’re going to live on the adrenalin rush of the outcome, you only get that for a minute. You get to the top of the mountain once, but you’re climbing that mountain [for a while]. You’re in the process of it for a longer period of time, so might as well get used to it and really learn to love that place, too, and enjoy it, right?
Tal: Yeah, and you touched another important point around, I would say, the measuring of success in some ways. A lot of time, we tie our happiness to the goal, a future event, and that, to me, that is a recipe for failure in many ways. Because again, you’re tying your happiness to something that may or may not happen in the future versus really enjoying the moment. A lot of things can come in the moment, new insights, new people.
If you have disconnected happiness from achieving or not achieving the goal, you can actually really enjoy the journey. Otherwise, it’s just going to be, “I’m going to be happy if that comes my way,” a conditional happiness.
And I really believe in unconditional happiness. That’s, again, another way to look at that because I feel in our society that this is almost something we do automatically. We tie certain feelings to outcomes, and if we can actually break that, that would be extremely valuable for a peace of mind and enjoyment.
Robyn: Let’s take a different direction. I know that one of your meta-goals was to achieve financial freedom. I know that anyone listening to this would be interested in that. What specific steps did you take towards financial freedom, and how do you define that term? And, did you arrive there in 10 years?
Tal: Well the goal was in one year, so yeah. I arrived in one year. The definition is really important because everyone can have different ideas of what financial freedom is. For me, my definition is passive income is greater than expenses, lifestyle expenses. When you think about it, when you reach that point you don’t have to work. You can work, but you don’t have to because there’s income coming that’s covering your expensive. Now, this definition of the formula really has two sets of the equation. One is like how much passive income you have on an ongoing basis, monthly basis, whatever.
And the other side of the equation is how many expenses you have. What I did, really, was I minimized my expenses to the minimum possible, in the beginning of my journey anyway, and then I increased the passive income that I had. I really started from almost nothing. I actually started from a big debt. I had $30,000 debt when I started the journey. And so, part of my journey was to clear the debt, build passive income sources, minimize the expenses to the minimum, and then kind of achieve financial freedom.
Just to give a little bit background to my personal story, too, in the first year, after achieving my financial freedom, I went to travel in India and Nepal, which are really, really inexpensive places.
You can live there for less than $500 a month. But even on $1,000 a month, it’s pretty comfortable to live there, and it was good for me because that allowed me to actually open my businesses, and build even more passive income.
Basically, I had full control of my time. I feel a lot of times the beginning is really hard, because we don’t have full control on our time. Most of us, it’s like a job. We have to sustain ourselves. But when you get to a point where you have full control, like full, full control of your time, you can focus all your energies on building businesses and building this wealth.
So yeah, that’s basically my journey. Just to be more specific, my passive income was done via online businesses. So, kind of, online income, but passive income doesn’t have to be online. It could be real estate, rental, or it could be dividends from the stock market and so forth. So, there’s a few ways to actually get there, but the most important thing is to focus on the passive income component.
Robyn: Very smart, and I like that part of your getting to a place of financial freedom is being able to live on less. I think a lot of us have become so materialistic. I used to have so many friends whom I enjoy being around when we’re talking about things that matter, but when the talk gets into stuff, and things everybody wants to purchase, and what kinds of cars, and what purse brands or whatever, I just have no interest in it. I cannot make myself get interested in talking about brands of shoes and purses and shopping. I don’t know. I’m missing that gene or something like that.
I think part of financial freedom is managing your wants, but for sure increasing your passive income, and I’ve focused on the same places as you — real estate, and having an online business. But, it’s also been so freeing for me so I can free up more time to do what I want to do, and ongoing what I really want to do is spend a lot more of my time in service.
Tal: Yes, 100%. I want to say something about minimalism, which really is one of my values. So a lot of people kind of confuse minimalism with being frugal, and I think my definition is really different. I have a very expensive laptop, so I’m not frugal. I don’t have, like, two laptops, let’s say. I don’t really spend on things that I don’t really need, but when I need something, really need something, I buy quality stuff.
When I got into the financial freedom journey, I had so much stuff like clothes, every color, whatever. I kind of compensated, and I feel like in many ways, like the Western culture, let’s say, is really based on consumption.
You’re bombarded with advertisements that tells you, “Yeah, you’re going to be happy if you do that or buy this or drink that,” or whatever. And again, that’s not really the case. I mean, you may get some pleasure and happiness, but it’s a short-term happiness. So, it’s really a trap, I feel, to go that way versus really adopting a minimalist lifestyle. I think it’s key for happiness as well.
Robyn: It makes it easier to travel. I used to have multiple homes, and I found that it decreased my freedom and my happiness, and it increased my hassles and anxiety. I find that having less stuff and having a smaller house has increased my happiness. What do you think?
Tal: 100%. It’s a question between needs and wants. So, the way I look at it, if you really want to be happy, if you really, really want to be happy, you may want to decrease your needs to the minimum. Let me share a story with you.
Half a year ago, I was bitten by a snake, and I almost died. I really almost died. I was choking, and I didn’t have air, and it really hit me in that experience that what we really, really need is really one thing. Maybe like two or three things, but what we really need is air, oxygen. That’s what you really, really need. Most of us, we walk in life and say, “I need a relationship. I need a better job. I need … ” There’s so many needs.
And obviously, if you tie your needs to happiness, you’ll be miserable. But if you make it a want, you say, “Yeah, I want a relationship. I want a new car. But if I don’t get it, it’s still great, because I have my life. I live, and as long as I live, I’m happy.” That’s a pretty good formula. “As long as I live, I’m happy.” Yeah, you just set yourself for happiness.
Robyn: Yeah. So interesting that you bring that up. I’m sorry that happened to you, with the snake bite. I’m glad you survived that. How terrifying.
Tal: Yeah, but it was a crisis. Again, a gift, a huge gift came out of that. I can even expand later other gifts, but I feel sometimes those crisis happen, and we say, “Oh why? Why? Why am I in the hospital?” and so forth. But then, a few days later, you realize, “Okay, there’s a big gift here.” Sorry to kind of cut you off, but I felt like just to mention that.
Robyn: No, no. You’re the guest here. You’re the one we want to hear from. But it’s interesting you bring that up, because right before our interview I actually ran to the store, because I’m leaving town for 11 days, and I was like, “I need to make some more food before I head to the airport for my son and set him up for meals.” I ran to the store, and I’m in the health food store, and in front of me checking out is an old friend, and I have not seen her in years. Several years ago, her husband died, and it was pretty sudden. He had leukemia, but it was very managed. They’d done all the right things, holistically.
He was very much on top of it. They’d been out hiking just days before. They had a big four-wheeling trip planned for a few days, and he got pneumonia, and he just died. He died in a matter of days. I had talked to her family a little bit, but I hadn’t talked to her. I was out of town for the funeral. So, I hadn’t seen her since her husband died. I said, “How are you?” Her eyes filled with tears, and she said, “It’s rough,” because I said to her, “You’ve been to hell and back since the last time I saw you.”
She goes, “No. I haven’t come back from it. I’m still in hell.” Then I said, “Oh I’m so sorry to hear that. There’s no adjusting, huh?” And she just kind of told me her story, she said, “This is not how I planned on spending my years.”
Now, she’s in, I would say, late 60s, and I was just thinking about it, how she said that. She said, “This is not how I was planning on spending this part of my life, and I can’t get my head around it.” I said, “That’s exactly how I see myself when I’m your age.” Well, that was probably not the most sensitive thing to say. I don’t share this story to say to criticize her in any way, because she gets to have her adjustment period.
The past four years has been super, super tough for her. I have nothing but compassion for her. But I realized our expectation, like, she had a positive marriage. She loved her husband. They were very much each other’s companions for probably 40 years when he died, and I don’t have that expectation. I fully see myself in my late 60s single and completely happy and loving it, and granted there wasn’t that big loss there. But her expectation was, “I get to be old with this man until I’m 90, or else I will be devastated and miserable for many, many years.”
And again, I’m not I’m not saying this to criticize her. I’m saying this to make us think a bit about our expectations, and do we have to have outcome X, Y or Z in order to be happy?
Like, can you be happy even though you had a major relationship with someone you loved very much fail? I bet you’ve learned some stuff about that.
Tal: Yeah. I mean, actually, my whole journey, and when you think about it, was from looking at death. Like I said, I gave myself 10 years to live. So that was in many ways a gift, because I kind of shortened the journey, and again, as I said, added urgency to everything. But I want to say another thing here, about happiness actually.
It really depends; if you say that your big goal is happiness, then what I said is true: remove all your needs, and just live in the moment, and just kind of live happily. You’ve got a lot of time. There’s a lot of other emotions, like unhappiness, let’s say, that kind of serve us.
I don’t look at emotions anymore from a standpoint that is negative or positive. I feel that we create unhappiness because there’s a there’s a reason for that, and it serves us. And a lot of times, a person would choose to keep being unhappy.
I sometimes coach people. I don’t necessarily assume that he would go for happiness right away. I would maybe explore with him the benefits of being unhappy and then maybe explore ways where you can actually get the same benefit with happiness. So, it’s a very sensitive place that the range of emotions come from.
If I think about how my big goal is service, and contribution and giving my gifts, and being on my path in this world, sometimes, I would use unhappiness. Sometimes, really, I would use unhappiness. Usually, what I do is I shorten the amount of unhappiness, because the gift is usually a huge motivation, and just being aware of the unhappiness.
The other thing that I want to say about unhappiness is I make sure that I’m not judging my unhappiness, because when you think about it, when you’re unhappy about your unhappiness, you’re in a cycle, and that usually lead to depression.
Depression is just a cycle of unhappiness, but unhappiness on its own can be okay. That’s just, I feel, my philosophy around emotions.
Robyn: I just read a book called Grit by a psychologist named Angela Duckworth. She was talking about how the research shows us that people who are optimistic see their unhappiness as being something specific and solvable and short-term, whereas the pessimists see their unhappiness as being long-term and unsolvable and general.
Tal: Yes. Yes.
Robyn: Getting too attached to your unhappiness, being unhappy about your unhappiness – that’s good mindfulness talk right there. When I’m unhappy, I immediately laser in on, “Ooh I’m not feeling like my usual happy self. What is wrong here? And how can I work to resolve this energy block here?” Well another reason I was really attracted to your message, is that, when I read about this, I was 50, and I was having a little bit of a crisis. Nothing too major, but I had spent the last decade writing 15 books. Some of them hit most of the bestseller lists.
I built a really successful business. I’m finishing raising my kids right now. My youngest child is going to leave for college in a few months. I’m empty-nesting, facing a lot of life transitions, and I feel like I did all the things. I got the advanced degree. I did 20 years of marriage, and learned a lot, and raised all the kids, and I’ve traveled all over the world, and I’ve lectured all over the world. I was like, “What now?” That might sound like bragging, and I really don’t mean it that way. It’s more like, “I have worked so hard, and I’ve done so many things,” that I’m like, “And so, what now? What will give me purpose from here forward?”
I’ll continue to run my business and help people. Luckily, I have a business that serves people, but I couldn’t think of any big challenges to tackle, and I had spent my life on challenges. And so, I’m wondering what someone like you, who’s done 100 hard things in the last 10 years, [feels like]. Do you feel like, “Well I can die now”? Or, what do you do next?
Tal: First of all, yeah, it resonates. Actually, I’m in a little mini crisis right now, but not too big, a personal crisis. But again, as I said, there’s a gift there. But, you know, maybe let me ask you this question.
You said there’s no more challenges, and my question is to you, why do you even want challenge? What’s the benefit of actually having a new challenge?
Robyn: Yeah. Good question. I think I’m addicted to it, and so, that’s part of it.
Tal: Why? Why are you addicted to it?
Robyn: Because it’s all I’ve ever done, and I really think that’s actually one of my challenges, to not have to have life be so high-octane, and be happy there.
Tal: Well, to me, similar to you, I love challenges. Actually, it’s in my DNA, like to grow, in general. So I usually challenge myself to grow. And a lot of time, I grow in different directions. You know, again, my first year of my journey was the year of socializing. I actually did a little partying and a lot of stuff. I learned English in high-level English [situations]. But overall, the way I look at it is, you can look at your life and say, “Where do I want to grow? Where do I want to grow right now?” It could actually be in … I don’t know … in the year of love, right? Ask yourself, “Am I loving the best way I can? Am I loving myself unconditionally, and others unconditionally?” When I think about it, actually, this is the ultimate goal really.
We’re here to train to love. That’s what I feel. We have all those challenges along the way, all those relationship and whatever, and we actually really train. We exercise, and I feel like it’s building this. You’re building yourself to get to a point, where you can actually not only love yourself, but others as well, and be happy with who you are and so forth. And a lot of time, you need like this [other goal, like] going to Bally for 30 days of yoga. Again, it’s a container; it’s a journey, and along the way, you grow. You become a different person from when you started the journey.
So that is what really drives me. It drives me to really be a better person, a more happy person, a more peaceful person. A more loving person really, which, by the way, it’s actually the same words to me. Happiness, love and peacefulness, it’s actually, for me, like synonyms. It’s the same word, and I can even expand on that, why I see that way. But again, it doesn’t matter the words. It’s more important what you feel is an area that you want to grow in, and I’m not just talking to you. I’m talking in general to whoever listen to this podcast.
Robyn: I love that. Very wise words. So what would you tell somebody who’s starting out on a journey like yours, setting a bunch of big goals? That would seem very daunting, if you had set all hundred of those goals in the very beginning on day one and torn off after them. What would you tell somebody?
Tal: Well, I feel the goal needs to be something that is really inspired. It doesn’t have to be a big goal, but something that there’s inspiration in, because motivation is really important. Especially if the goal is big. If there’s not enough fuel behind it, if there’s not enough “why”, like a big why behind it, you may quit, or you may go back to your old habits. So yeah, like big motivation, inspiration, that kind of thing.
The other thing is to have some kind of a process to achieving goals. Mine was around setting milestone goals. I used accountability. I use sometimes support groups, a coach.
There’s many ways to support your journey, and I feel like a lot of time, we kind of say, “I don’t need that.” But again, if you’re really inspired by big goals and this is your thing, like myself, then I feel you really want to prepare yourself before you leave and go for it.
I think I read somewhere that 90-plus percent of New Year’s resolutions fail, and I think it’s because a lot of people just set the goal, but they don’t really prepare for it. Preparation is about creating space in your life, just like clearing a little bit of your calendar and those things. So I feel the preparation may be very, very important.
Robyn: That is very solid advice. So, to wrap up, where can people learn more about you, and where can they get your new book? Tell a little bit about your book.
Tal: Actually, the book is a good place to start really. If you google “The Art of Fully Living,” that’s the name of the book. It’s sold on Amazon. I think it’s a good start, and you can go to fullylived.com. That’s where my blog is. But I really recommend reading the book. It’s a lot of the insights that I had on my journey, including my failures. It’s also a cool travel story. It’s really written well, a bestseller for a long time, and I’m pretty proud of it. So, yeah, go check it out.
Robyn: The Art of Fully Living by Tal Gur, everyone. Tal, you’re an inspiration. Thanks so much for being with us. I really love what you’ve done and the way that you share it with all of us.
Tal: Thank you, Robyn. I really enjoyed it.
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