Leap Year Lesson #12: Use It or Lose It

Posted: January 12, 2012 in Learning
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Actions we carry out repetitively become tasks we feel like we can do in our sleep. We get to a point where our bodies just seem to take control without much thought required.

Take driving a car, for example. The 16-year-old first learning to drive is intensely focused on every action while the experienced driver (for good or bad) perhaps focuses more on matters unrelated to driving.

When it comes to work, you probably have things that you know and do so easily that you don’t have to think about them much. Same goes for your hobbies or favorite pasttimes.

But what happens if you go an unusually long time without using some skill or knowledge? Chances are good that you slip a little in your ability to perform. The same is true for those tasks that you only need to do once in a great while. Dusting off the memory banks on how to use that tax software you haven’t used in a year, for example, always takes longer than we wish.

The reason leap year lesson #12 is “Use It or Lose It” ( or it could also be “Practice Makes Perfect”) is because I stunned myself at the beginning of the year when I resumed a personal spiritual discipline that I had let slide for many months. For years I have spent time regularly memorizing and reviewing the same 100 Bible verses that I want to know well. For whatever reason, though, I dropped the ball on reviewing them for most of 2011. When I started back January 1, I was shocked at how much I had forgotten!

The good news is that it takes very little time to recall to mind that which is buried in some cranial corner following the repetition of years of practice. The bad news is that I was reminded of how easy it is to let important things slide and to replace them with things of lesser significance.

While I was off chasing new adventures in learning, career, housing, etc., I failed to practice that which was more important. And because I didn’t practice or use it, I lost it – at least temporarily.

So decide what is important and then do it. And keep doing it. Use it or lose it.

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