Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Top 5 Tips for Building the Life You Want

Bodybuilding world champion numerous times.

One of the most highly paid actors in the last few decades and a living screen legend.

And then the governor of California.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s resume sounds more like the resume of three men rather than just one. How did he do it?

Here are a five clues, success habits and tips from Arnold himself.

1. Believe in yourself.

“I knew I was a winner back in the late sixties. I knew I was destined for great things. People will say that kind of thinking is totally immodest. I agree. Modesty is not a word that applies to me in any way – I hope it never will.”

“We all have great inner power. The power is self-faith. There’s really an attitude to winning. You have to see yourself winning before you win. And you have to be hungry. You have to want to conquer.”

“The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.”

A very strong belief in yourself can be ridiculously useful.

Corny as it may sound, your belief in yourself determines a lot about your journey and your results.

But the problem with statements like “Just believe in yourself!” is that they don’t come with any practical instructions on how to actually believe more I yourself. So you have a hard time getting anywhere.

I have found a few things that have been helpful.

  • First, by realizing that you are able to handle negative stuff that comes your way your belief in yourself and your capabilities grows.
  • You can also work on a similar process voluntarily. By setting goals and achieving them your belief in yourself increases. And by facing your fears and finding that you can indeed survive such experiences your belief in yourself goes up too. None of these options may sound that glamorous, fun or quick. And a lot of the time they aren’t. But like with so much else, you have to put in effort to get good results.

But there is also another side to this challenge. Quite a bit of the problem with a lack of belief in yourself comes from internal self-sabotage, self-limiting beliefs and resistance within your mind.

It’s you holding yourself back.

I have found that reading Eckhart Tolle’s books like “A New Earth” – or books on mindfulness in general I guess – to help you realize that you are not your ego, thoughts or emotions and rereading to strengthen and deepen that belief can be very helpful to reduce the inner struggle, over-analyzing and self-sabotage.

Over time you can get better control over your mind and you’ll stop listening so much to your own negative inner voices and emotional resistance.

Having a reasonably good handle on that part makes it easier to see yourself doing what you want to do. Because, as Arnold says, you have to be able to envision what you want to do or it will be very hard or just impossible bring that vision into reality.

By getting better control over your mind it becomes easier to hold this vision in your mind day after day, week after week. You’ll be less prone to self-sabotage. And your belief will waver less when being questioned or worse by other people or just society in general.

2. See struggle and failure as something positive.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Failure is seldom the end of the world. It’s a part of the journey, a part of the learning curve.

The problem is just that if you have a scarcity mentality then every failure or potential failure may seem as the sky falling. This can hold you back from performing well. Or from taking action at all.

The key to overcome this is to develop an abundance mentality that tells you that there are always more opportunities. This allows you to not take the setbacks too seriously.

One way to help yourself to develop such a mentality is to replace some of the usual input – news, advertising – with information and the vibe from personal development authors/speakers.

Another way is just to hang out more with people with an abundance mentality. Or just people that are positive and enthusiastic about life.

Now, most of the time you only really fail when you give up and surrender. If you keep going you’ll build your inner strength to live and move through rough patches.

And if you are able to look at your setbacks and learn from them you can also deepen you knowledge, avoid some mistakes in the future and find a better path towards your goal.

Remember that to succeed you need those failure. They make you stronger and smarter and that build-up of yourself is vital to success.

3. Go the extra mile.

“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.”

Going the extra mile. It’s not easy.

Personally I think this has often been because I have just thought too much.

Overthinking often leads to negative thought spirals where you use your mind to decrease your own strength through self-doubt. And if you add up all the overthinking you can waste months or perhaps even years of your life.

It’s more useful to just stop thinking when all then thinking that is needed is done. And to then just go and do what you choose to do.

And then to learn from your experiences and to keep going.

4. Go work out.

“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.”

Yes, working out is very useful in more than one way.

I have found that one of the best ways to turn an anxious, negative or weak mood fully around is simply to exercise.

It is also reliable because it is not so dependent on your mind. You just have to drag yourself wherever you need to go and make your body do certain movements to get the desired result.

And, anyway, how are you going to be able to go the extra mile without extra energy? Over the last few years I realized that many problems are simply based in a lack of energy.

So working out or not isn’t much of a choice really. If you aren’t naturally a bouncy, high energy person then you have to exercise in some way to create that energy you need to achieve whatever it is you want in your life.

5. Go and help others.

“Help others and give something back. I guarantee you will discover that while public service improves the lives and the world around you, its greatest reward is the enrichment and new meaning it will bring your own life.”

Helping others is valuable in so many ways. Beside the wonderful upsides that Arnold brings up – like the fact that you are helping people out and at the same time enriching and adding meaning to your own life – you also create a lot of relationships.

And the Law of Reciprocity, the urge to give back is strong in people. If you provide value and help to them then they will often be inclined to give you a hand when you need it. Or feel the need give back by paying it forward and helping other people.

This creates big, expanding upward spirals of positive actions and thoughts. And that can be very useful for us all.

Free Exclusive Happiness Tips

Subscribe to The Positivity Newsletter and get weekly tips on happiness, self-esteem and plenty more.

You’ll also get three free guides on how to stop being lazy, what to do when life sucks and 21 things I wish they’d taught me in school.

100% privacy and no spam. You can unsubscribe anytime.

About the Author

Henrik Edberg is the creator of the Positivity Blog and has written weekly articles here since 2006. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Gothenburg and has been featured on Lifehacker, HuffPost and Paulo Coelho’s blog. Click here to learn more…

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • I like Arnold as an actor. And I like his words, for sure true words. Thanks for sharing, Henrik.

  • Very true… If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect others to believe in you. This is the number one step to being truly successful!

  • Talia

    Great post and such inspirational words! Something to print and carry for sure!

  • People love to make fun of Arnold but I think he is amazing and a great example of success. I particularly love this line in your article from him: “When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” Hell yea.

  • Excellent ideas about how to get the life we want. They should teach these ideas to students at school and make it compulsory learning.

    I was taught to help others from a young age, so now I always think about how others can benefit from what I do. Sometimes we might think we are working mainly to make money for ourselves/immediate family, but I believe one of the main reasons we are alive is to serve/help/empower…others by using our talents, knowledge and skills to, ultimately, make the world a better place.

  • This is great stuff from Arnold. It’s hard to argue with his mindset based on the tremendous success he’s created. He is one of the great ones!

  • Hi Henrik
    I really like how you talk about seeing struggles and failures as something positive. I definitely believe that those are opportunities to grow stronger when you use them to your advantage. Awesome post!