At work last week, I was looking at a bond and realized I forgot how to use the Rule of 72 to get a rough idea of the value of the bond.  I realized the only time I ever used the Rule of 72 was in college; over five years ago.  The Rule of 72 is a rule which I have had no use for and I did not practice.  As a consequence, I forgot it.

After this humbling experience, I realized that if you don’t use your skills, you lose them completely.  This applies for all skills:  love, charity, music, learning, and all others.

It takes a concerted effort to exercise skills that you value having.

Over the last few years, I’ve tried to practice more life-affirming skills in my daily life and it has made my life more enriching.  Work, especially work with no tangible byproducts, can often suck us dry and make us resort to eating rich foods, drinking alcohol or other activities to avoid dealing with reality that what we’re doing is forgettable.

A year ago, I was walking around my neighborhood in my old city and I spotted a man who needed help moving a mattress.  As I helped the man move his mattress, it brought back memories of helping people and doing something I enjoyed doing.  That act of helping the man with the mattress still sits with me today.  It was probably the first time in three years that I could actually say my actions helped someone else.

Volunteering has given me peace of mind and comfort knowing that I’m not just trading financial reports for food, shelter and a “lifestyle”.  As little as I have contributed to this world, helping someone smile or avoid pain is something I definitely enjoying getting back in touch with.  I sometimes fear that if I don’t make these types of connections a priority, the desire will slip away.

Takeaway:  If you don’t use your skills, you lose them.  This applies for all skills:  The Rule of 72, love, charity, music, learning, and all others.  What skills do you want to own?  Are you practicing them?

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