A collection of weird things I accomplished in 2015


Wade Kwon

I told you this year what I accomplished last year. Now, let me tell you this year what I accomplished this year.

Some of these were happy circumstances, other were deliberate experiments on myself. All are shared for your amusement and edification.

1. Paid off my house. As in burn the mortgage. I bought my house in Birmingham in 2003 and completed payments on a 30-year mortgage with 18 years to spare.

I really do love my home, and it’s with immense relief that I don’t have to pay another penny on it, except for insurance … and property tax … and repairs … and roofing … and painting …

Results: SUCCESS

2. Wrote a business plan. For years, I’d been advising clients and friends to write business plans. All while operating without one.

The lies end today. Well, this lie anyway.

I finished it earlier this afternoon. I had put it off over and over again. Like many business owners, I slid by without putting my goals and steps on paper. That forced me to improvise more times than necessary.

Don’t be like me, entrepreneurs and dreamers. Write your damn business plan.

I recommend “The Ernst and Young Business Plan Guide” [Amazon aff. link].

Results: SUCCESS

3. 52 Weeks of Projects. My Saturdays are sacred. Previously, they were devoted to football in the fall, but I gave that up in 2014. I began to devote them to a few things: cheat days for my diet (a long day of eating junk food); watching a movie or clearing out the TiVo; and not working.

I still wanted to invest my time in something worthwhile, so I came up with a list of 52 projects to do on Saturdays. Starting on the last Saturday in January, I’d pick one off the list to finish in a few hours. The tasks included cleaning out rooms, filing an amended tax return, planting a raised bed garden (more on that below), yard work, repairs, secret gifts, housework and other chores.

Out of a possible 48, I completed 13. As I got busier toward the summer, I let this slip on the priority list.

Time to reset back to 52, which would be a fantastic accomplishment for 2016, which has 53 Saturdays.

Results: MIXED

4. Obey all Stop signs. The dumbest traffic tickets I’ve gotten over the years were running Stop signs. It’s an expensive violation, by the way.

A Reddit discussion centered on what constitutes a full stop. It was clear that drivers and police officers all had different standards, and none were guaranteed to sway a judge. At least one suggested coming to a full stop for 3 seconds.

For me, that sounded like an interesting challenge. Instead of slow food, I’d try “slow driving” for a while.

You should know that my neighborhood has a million zillion Stop signs. So I’ve had plenty of practice.

I could do it most of the time, but I sometimes found myself cheating. My foot would come off the brake before I reached “three Mississippi.” Or I’d hurry up because I had exactly one car behind me, a form of idiotic self-imposed peer pressure.

It was actually easier for me to do full stops late at night with no other vehicles around for miles.

I found that taking this one step to slow down and stop helped me become a better driver all around. I was being more careful, alert, present. Sadly, this did not affect other drivers, especially at four-way stop intersections when they’d dart out while I was still counting.

Results: SUCCESS

5. Planted a garden. I finally spent time in late winter assembling a raised bed garden, with nice soil and compost and a sunny spot in my back yard.

While the plants were pretty, the crop yield was laughably small. I mean, a handful of beans. I had planted beans, carrots, onions, squash, peppers, broccoli, kale and basil. The basil did OK, but I was hoping for real veggies. Instead, only the marigolds prospered.

I watered it daily, kept a garden journal, trimmed out extra plants and weeded. For naught.

I’ll try again in 2016. A friend who has quite the green thumb has offered to help. Little does she know how little effort I want to put into this venture.

Results: FAILURE

6. Established morning and evening routines. I read somewhere that having routines before bedtime after waking help with anxiety and with productivity. My days have been pretty random, so I thought this could be a fun experiment.

For mornings, I picked breakfast, exercise and shower. That’s pretty straightforward. I was already having breakfast after waking, so really it was just moving my workouts and walking to earlier in the day.

For evenings, I picked cleaning, tea and poetry. I spent half an hour either tidying up the kitchen or the living room or putting away files and junk. I’d make myself a cup of green tea and write haiku or a blog post or something.

If I altered the routine, it was usually the evening one. I might skip the cleaning if I had done it earlier in the day, or skip the tea because I didn’t feel like making it.

But for the most part, it has stuck, and I’ll keep it the same for next year.

Results: SUCCESS

7. Haircuts at home. For my balding head, I went with a buzz cut this summer. My stylist Jimmy did a great job as always.

I bought a trimmer and read up on maintaining my cut. It was easy, and I got better at it every few weeks.

I love my stylist, but I love saving money and time even more. Plus, it’s super easy to maintain.

Results: SUCCESS

8. My thermostat review. In October 2014, I received a free Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat, which retails for $299 as a Klout perk. It took a couple of tries for me to install it, replacing my programmable digital thermostat, also a Honeywell.

Here is the long overdue review:

My Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat works well, maintaining my home’s climate efficiently and on schedule, much like my old “dumb” Honeywell programmable unit. It’s nice to be able to change it remotely using my computer’s or phone’s browser, though I worry that terrorists and hackers will seize control of my AC. The voice control usually performs OK, except when it responds to the television at random.

It’s also nice to get the weather report from the thermostat, but I’ll probably ask for it from my smartwatch someday. (Dear Apple: Please send me a watch as a Klout perk. Review to come.)

Results: SUCCESS

9. Entered the Gender Avenger Hall of Fame for the second consecutive year. Our conference, Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power, earned recognition for its diverse lineup. I wrote about it in August.

It’s one of my proudest accomplishments.

Results: SUCCESS

10. Being out in the world some more. I’ve worked at this one for some time. For a time this year, I picked activities to try out or attend, with the goal of interaction. I had to stay for an hour, and I had to strike up a conversation.

I went to a handful of events around town and occasionally chatted with strangers. But I didn’t do it nearly enough. It’s very easy for me to remain in hermit mode, so all I can do is redouble my efforts for 2016.

I also looked for a nonprofit organization to devote some of my time, my skills and my energy. I checked out a couple, but they weren’t a good fit for my interests. This one is also back to the drawing board.

Results: MIXED

Join me again in 2016 for more fun and weirdness on my adventures in better living.


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