Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Autobiography – Total Recall. My notes on achieving big goals

These are my notes from reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Autobiography – Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story which is quite long at around 650 pages but is an amazing read showing life lessons from Arnold we can all use to make our life better, from setting big goals and dreaming big, taking care of our physical and mental health and finally how perceived weaknesses in our character can become massively beneficial!
Total Recall book inforgraphic

Arnold Schwarzenegger total recall book review and notesI read a lot and this I figured I will start putting my notes from these books that range in topics such as Finance, health, relationships & recently many biographies to remind myself of the up and downs of many of the great people of ages past. Biographies make great bedside stories too since they are not as dense in specific information as other non fiction books I read.

What I liked about reading Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life story was how much more he was beyond the movie star I knew from my childhood. Some of his key achievements have been:

– Broadly, coming from a poor Austrian family and dreaming to go to America, which involved getting a visa, money and learning English and on the way becoming a millionaire from multiple business ventures, especially real estate, before even making millions as an actor and in the end becoming the governor of the biggest state in the US.

– Constantly working out (4+ hours a day) at the gym grinding out the “reps” to be strong and eventually won all the major bodybuilding competitions at a record young age at the time. Besides all the time he put into this, he was putting posters of the bodybuilders that inspired him in his room to the point his mom thought he might have a “problem”.

Motivational posters/visualization & “putting the reps” day after day definitely pays off

– Eventually deciding on becoming a movie star (which he saw as the natural path after becoming a bodybuilder, partly in order to get girls & more fame). To do this, he stuck to his goals and instead of going for small roles and trying to work his way up, he told his agent to only accept big roles in a movie and refuse the rest.

I think this is very key for a lot of people, especially me. Having a clear vision of what you want. For Arnold he dreamed big and was willing to let go of the long road / diversions that may or may not help him achieve his final goal. For example, if your goal is to travel for many months then calculate how much you need and get that sum, instead of giving yourself a broad goal of “becoming a millionaire and then travel”. Your real goal is to travel, not be a millionaire. Similar to how Arnold wanted to be acknowledged as one of the MAIN actors in a movie, not just “be” in a movie.

– Arnold had a lot of people (as we all do) tell us X is impossible. For Arnold, his accent was seen as a major liability so he took classes to remove it but over time he did not in movies and it became one of his major defining factors.  As he says, “Turn your liabilities into assets. When I wanted to star in movies, the Hollywood agents I talked to told me to forget it— my body and my name and my accent were all too weird.”

Taking care of his mind, Arnold took many many college credits, worked very hard in English, often played chess, at some point started doing Transcendental Meditation twice a day (a practice I am myself trying to start after seeing Tim Ferris in his podcast mentions he does it and so do many others). He also writes specifically about how willpower and the mind are very important, from his friend who to impress girls at the gym can suddenly do an incredible amount of reps in the gym or he himself realizing he might have lost a competition because his goal was only to participate that specific time, not to win.

The importance of any individual to know Marketing, Arnold worked really hard on involving himself with the marketing of everything he was in, from himself to his movies he would push whoever was paying him at the time to bring him to more countries, more cities where he can talk to people and promote his products, the bodybuilding sport, or his movies. As he says in his book “Too many actors, writers, and artists think that marketing is beneath them. But no matter what you do in life, selling is part of it.”. As part of the new normal of the 21st century, this is especially key. Going to college and hoping to get the perfect job you want that will make you happy without additional effort is hardly possible. What good is it that you are the best at X or you have the best product that can solve Y if no one knows about it?

Arnold Schwarzenegger talks about marketing

Finally, a few other quotes I enjoyed from his book:
“When someone tells you no, you should hear yes.”

“I visited three hospitals to talk to the surgeons. I believe you should get three opinions when facing a big medical decision.”

“As governor, you’re neither a solitary champion nor a star. You have to work with the legislature , the courts, the bureaucracy, and the federal government, not to mention with the voters themselves.”

“Forget plan B.”

“Take care of your body and your mind.”

“Stay hungry. Be hungry for success, hungry to make your mark, hungry to be seen and to be heard and to have an effect. And as you move up and become successful, make sure also to be hungry for helping others.”

arnold schwarzenegger total recall bookWhile a long read (600+ pages), I found it a great auto biography overall that while it did not feel he had major crazy obstacles or downs in his life for those who like to be inspired from someone who went hero to zero, hero to zero over and over again, it is clear he is a hard working man that kept pushing himself with new goals and never was satisfied to rest on his past success.

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  1. Hi Alex, thanks for writing this, very interesting.
    I listened to his commencement speech on youtube but damn, I didn’t know he was that unique, I’m sure the book teaches much more. He’s a great example to why you should keep your mind and body sharp and one of my role models 😀

    1. Thanks Dvir, I was really impressed too when I read his book, I falsely thought he was more muscles and less brains like he can portray in his movies but it shows that even someone that I took for granted in success growing up actually worked really hard for everything he had, even though like he says in his book, it sometimes feel too good to be true. But I can think of the same in my life off the results of things like making money online a few years ago. And I know it came from working hard for many days like you & him.

  2. Now that I found this little review of yours, it made me even more excited about reading this book sooner. It’s on my to read list for the month of September and I think I will start the month with it. Your notes are really nice and tell the story of a great book. I was always inspired by Arnold and consider him to be a very determined and hard working person from whom we can all learn a lot of good things.

    1. Yup it is actually quite good, and also will teach me a lesson about not judging someone from their movie roles. A newbie human mistake …

  3. WOW! 600 pages! That’s a long book! I think it will take me 1 month to read because I am a slow reader but from what you’ve said here, it’s worth reading! Or I could get the audio version and listen to it while I am away on trips… Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book!

    1. Ya and in the audio version he actually talks, which is pretty cool. I was worried about misunderstanding some parts though so I kept it in book format, biographies are better for me at night before bed anyway.

  4. Thanks for finally talking about >Arnold Schwarzenegger?s Autobiography – Total Recall.
    My notes on achieving big goals | Peak Modern Living <Liked it!

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