Think you've got nothing in common with Arnold "The Governator" Schwarzenegger? You're not alone. Most of us can't bench press a small car or drop iconic one-liners like "I'll be back." But hold on to your protein shakes; we're about to dive into some Arnold-inspired life strategies that are as applicable to you as they are to a seven-time Mr. Olympia. No gym membership or Austrian accent required.
The new Netflix documentary about his life is well worth a watch. But what can you apply to your college life? Ah, glad you asked! Let's flex our mental biceps and dive into the Schwarzenegger playbook, chapter by chapter.
Arnold's Situation: Imagine this: Arnold Schwarzenegger is sleeping in the gym, not because he's homeless, but because he's that obsessed with sculpting his body. He practically inhaled dumbbells for breakfast and did push-ups as a nightcap. This was no casual "Oh, I should work out" approach. While most of us summon the willpower to hit the gym, Arnold removed the need for discipline by making the gym his home. In his world, the path of least resistance was a bench press, and discipline became an afterthought.
WWAD (What Would Arnold Do): Eliminate friction and bathe in the world of your chosen discipline. You know what I'm saying? Live it, breathe it, become one with it. For Arnold, the gym was his second home—or first, if you consider the sleeping arrangements.
Example: You're a student, and let's be honest, are you the Mr. Universe of studying? If your notes are the equivalent of a one-pound dumbbell, it's time for an upgrade.
Recommendation for your life: Time to engineer your "Learning Palace." First off, grab a trash bag and get ruthless with those disorganized materials cluttering your desk. Anything that isn't actively making you smarter needs to go. Next, put your phone on "Do Not Disturb" or, better yet, toss it into another room. Now, equip your study space with tools that make you feel like Einstein—think a whiteboard for jotting down quick ideas, a dedicated notebook for each subject, and maybe even a motivational poster or two. It's about creating an environment where your brain goes, “Ah, time to crush it,” instead of “Oh, look, another TikTok notification.”
Arnold's Situation: Arnold Schwarzenegger was hardly the first guy to lift a dumbbell, but he was one of the few farm kids from Austria to turn bodybuilding into a career, a lifestyle, and later, a global phenomenon. He didn't have to reinvent the wheel; he just had to be “relatively unique.”
WWAD: So, what's the lesson here? You don't need to shatter the mold, but you can definitely twist it. The magic happens when you find something that makes you stand out, not as a Marvel superhero, but as a compelling character in the story of your own life.
Example: I've never met an architecture student who doubles as a stand-up comedian, a pre-med who captains the table tennis team, or a coder who can recite Chaucer. But that type of contrast is a great way to be memorable. Why blend in when you can stand out? Why be just another face in the lecture hall when you can be the relatively unique character who blends two seemingly unrelated worlds into one unforgettable persona?
Recommendation for your life: Alongside your career trajectory, carve out space for "signature quirk." To unearth your quirk, take a moment to reflect: jot down the hobbies or interests that energize you, those things you can speak about for hours. Which of these are uncommon or atypical among your peers? That's likely your golden ticket to 'quirkdom'. Not only will the quirk keep you sane, but it'll also make you unforgettable in a crowd.
Arnold's Situation: Arnold wasn't a lone wolf; he was part of a pack of equally iron-pumping obsessives. These were the folks who gave him spotter support at the gym and life support when things got tough.
WWAD: Find your tribe, and you'll find your podium.
Example: Feeling overwhelmed in your challenging courses? Maybe you're searching for a study group that's as dedicated as you. Or maybe you’re bouncing around student organizations. One feels like a resume factory, another like a social club. Where do you belong?
Strike up conversations with a few members or leaders in the organizations that interest you. They'll give you an unfiltered look into what the org is really like and whether it aligns with what you're looking for.
Recommendation for your life: Shop around for your tribe with a "try before you buy" mindset. Seek smaller sub-groups: larger organizations often have sub-committees or smaller project teams.
The right tribe provides a support system, giving you resources like shared notes, insights into professors' quirks, study group opportunities, and a sounding board for those 2 a.m. existential college crises. They challenge you, keep you accountable, and celebrate your successes, ensuring you not only survive college but thrive in it.
Arnold's Situation: Ah, the magical power of schmäh—otherwise known as "bullshitting your way to success." Arnold had it in spades. He persuaded himself, and consequently everyone else, that he was the real deal long before he actually was.
WWAD: Convince yourself first. The world will follow suit.
Example: You're the youngest in a research lab, surrounded by PhDs. Is it imposter syndrome, or are you just ahead of the curve?
Recommendation for your life:
By combining these strategies, you're not just wishing for success, you're planning for it. Choose your weapon, and let the schmäh begin!
Ultimately, a focus on intentionality is a sign that you’re receiving truly constructive criticism.
Arnold's Situation: In the realm of acting, Arnold faced a minor hiccup—his English was, let's say, unique. But did that stop him? Heck no. Instead of blending into the sea of American accents, he leaned into his distinctiveness. He hired a voice coach to refine, but not eliminate, his unique way of speaking. Arnold transformed what many saw as a liability into his own personal brand, making lines like "I'll be back" iconic precisely because of the way he said them.
WWAD: What's your stumbling block? Own it. Don't just identify what you're struggling with; develop a tangible plan to either improve in that area or use it to your advantage in a unique way.
Example: Public speaking makes you queasy? There are SO MANY ways to overcome this common phobia, but to name a few:
Recommendation for your life: Acknowledge your weak spot and make a plan to overcome the weakness while staying true to what you’re good at. You've got this.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's life is more than just a list of achievements; it's a playbook. Sure, we can't all be the Terminator, but you know what? We can take a page from his life to become the heroes of our own narrative. Because remember, you're not a T-800 model—your programming can always be upgraded. Time to pump up your life. Until next time, I'll be back.
P.S. Feeling ambitious? Try out our "Arnold's (Unofficial) Guide to Crushing College", a handy calendar for giving yourself an Arnold-themed challenge every day of the month!