Arnold’s Big Vision Challenge

Arnold and the boys in Austria for Oktoberfest

By Arnold Schwarzenegger

Intro to the article by Dr Beck

I am a fellow Green and a big fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger, no doubt. An immigrant to America who made good – as do most immigrants, my Scottish-Canadian mother included. Arnold has produced two newsletters, this is part-of-one directed towards the health and well-being of his ever-growing fan base from Gold’s Gym, “Terminator”, and Governor of California days. The other directed at his newer fan base in the Climate Action movement. Arnold, as you may know or not, supports the work of Greta and other youth activists. In his native Austria, he is a Green. He has his own Climate Initiative. He has also visited Auschwitz with representatives of the Jewish community, standing-up to anti-semitism in all its stripes. In the process he has re-evaluated his own father’s role in WWII, a tough task for any son. As for my part in this challenge I am studying French, Arnold!

Arnold’s Big Challenge

Besides breaking down news about the latest fads in health and fitness and sharing recipes and workouts, I want to challenge you every so often with this email. Challenging ourselves is how we grow. We send a message to our brain that “I am doing this, whether you like it or not,” and it lets us break through the inertia that wants to hold us in our status quo. I believe short-term challenges can remind us that we are in control. 

So I’ve told the team to throw in challenges. You’ll see them pop up in these emails.

Since this is the beginning of the year, I want to start with a bigger challenge. This email will be, by far, the longest daily email you ever get from me, so don’t be disappointed when the next daily email is a few paragraphs. I wanted to start you with a bang, though. Here’s your challenge:

I want you to sit down, without your phone or any distractions, and think about where you are and where you want to be. And then, I want you to write down three things that you will focus on this year to get to your vision of where you want to be and put it somewhere (a nightstand, your bathroom mirror, taped to your coffee maker) that you will see it every day.

A few guidelines: 

1) When you look at where you are now, do it without too much judgment. Be honest but not negative. Do you think I’m more likely to follow through with change if I start out saying, “Arnold, you look like a pig, you look like garbage, it’s time to fix it,” or “Arnold, studies show that people in better shape lead longer lives with fewer health problems, so losing a few pounds means more time to be here hanging out with the people you love?” Negativity freezes you; it makes you depressed about where you are instead of excited about where you can go. Lose the negativity.

2) You don’t have to finish these things this year. These are big, big visions about changing who you are. You’ll make insane progress this year, but you don’t need to finish.

3) Only one of the three things needs to be about your health and fitness, but I want at least one to focus on your body. The Greeks always talked about a sound mind in a sound body, so I’ve always focused on both. The others can be things you’ve wanted to do for ages, but you’ve put off, things you know you should do, or things that will improve you as a person or at work. 


Here’s an example:

1. Learn German, French, or Spanish

2. Be more present with my friends and family

3. Lose fat and build muscle so I can be around and more active with my family for as long as possible.

Once you do this, write a note for each one about how you will get from point A to point B. Write down the ACTION that moves you toward your VISION. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. People quit New Year’s resolutions because they are too vague and too big. You’ve been the way you are for a long time, you aren’t going to reboot as a different person overnight, so the way you get to your big visions is through achievable goals.


1. Learn German, French, or Spanish: spend 5 minutes each morning studying on DuoLingo

2. Be more present with friends and family: designate a daily no-machine hour where all of my focus is on whoever I’m with and not on my device

3. Gain muscle and lose fat: devote, at least, 10 minutes a day to my body by walking or strength training.


There’s a final part of this, and it’s keeping track of your daily tasks and celebrating yourself for achieving them. You have to reward yourself! And while I used to make tally marks on a chalkboard in my room, technology has made tracking small tasks much easier. Use the tasks or reminders function on your machine (mobile phone), and write down your three actions. Set it up so you get reminders every day, and every day, check them off. Five minutes of Duolingo, done. 

At the end of the day, look at your list. Take a minute to congratulate yourself on completing it (or if you still need to do 10 minutes of movement, get going!). At the end of a week, look at all those checked boxes and give yourself a real reward. Have something decadent for dinner. Take your family to a movie. Remind yourself this is because you kept moving and checking boxes every day.

My team told me external rewards really make people stick to new habits. So I’m going to offer a big one. 

I will pick 3 of you who complete all of your actions for 30 days and give you lifetime access to my upcoming fitness app for free, and I’m going to FaceTime you to pump you up and congratulate you on completing your daily actions.

You just need to be subscribed to my daily email. In several weeks, we’ll ask for you to share what you’ve done, and you just need to reply with the subject line, “Celebrating Wins” and include a screenshot of the tasks you tracked for the last month. On February 15, so people have a week or two to get going, my team will go through the celebration replies and draw one of you for me to FaceTime and set it up with you. And who knows? If see people making real changes to their lives, I might need to FaceTime one of my subscribers every month to keep you all moving forward.

Obviously, you can cheat and just click a lot of boxes and send in a screenshot. I won’t know, but you will, and you’ll just have cheated yourself because I enjoy talking with my followers.

This might feel small, but we are trying to do something big here. With little actions, we are changing your whole identity. Is studying German for 5 minutes going to make you a fluent German speaker this year? Probably not, just like 10 minutes of movement won’t make you Mr. or Ms. Olympia. 

But when you do that for a month, you’ll notice that you’ve started to change. Because you’ve started. 

The old you might have said, “I wish I could learn a language,” or “I wish I wasn’t on my phone when I’m playing with my kids or catching up with a friend,” or “I wish I was in better shape.” 

You’ve evolved past that now. The new you stopped wishing and just started. As you grow, you might find yourself adding time to your tasks and growing your vision. Or you might not.

The key is that you remind yourself you’re the type of person who can create a vision and start moving toward it. You have to learn the three components of change:

1. Vision

2. Action

3. Celebration

See you all tomorrow! The next email will be quite a bit shorter.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger