There is a motivational technique that my cross country team used in high school called 212 Degrees.
The general idea is that 212 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which water boils. At 211 degrees, its just hot water. But with that one extra degree, it becomes steam; which can power an engine. The theory is that people can achieve much more than they think if only they are willing to give that last degree of effort.
I'll admit, I thought the whole thing was pretty cheesy in high school. I was already the runner that left everything on the track, even before our coach read about 212. So, while the idea itself didn't affect my performance much, it did give our team something unique to cheer each other on with. For a while, our coach would use a sharpie to write 212 on our hands or wrists before every race to give us a reminder to keep pushing the whole time.
After I graduated from high school, I pretty much forgot all about it. 212 stopped playing any part in my life. Then, during my third year in college, I started writing it on my wrist again. My depression had manifested that year, and I was in the darkest place I've ever been. I couldn't even motivate myself to get out of bed most days. At that point, I was willing to do anything that I thought might help me start living again. To be honest, I'm not sure if it really helped at all. I didn't really start to feel better until the semester ended and I got to go home for the summer. I suppose that should have been an indicator that it was a bad idea to go back for a fourth year, but oh well. That last year may not have gone well academically, but I wouldn't have most of the friends I do now if I hadn't gone back.
Anyway, I've been drawing 212 on my wrist on and off ever since that third year an NAU. Its gone from being a motivational tool meant to push me into giving more effort, to a reminder of the strength I have within me.
When 212 first entered my life, I was a cross country runner. Anyone who's done any long distance running knows that mental strength is just as important as physical fitness. Especially for someone like me; with bad knees, weak ankles, and asthma. In order to take part in the sport I loved, I needed to push through pain and exhaustion, and also be able to identify when it was time to stop pushing. Admittedly, I was never very good at that last part.
There was a time in my life when I had that strength within me. And that never really goes away. For me, 212 is a reminder that all I have to do is find a way to tap into that again. I've got a lot of big things I want to do with my life and I know I can do them, if I'm willing to fight for it.