Skip to content


January 2, 2022

Over these past months, I have asked that each of us contribute to our local charitable agencies. Thank you for all you have done. I will continue making suggestions because I have learned that unless these nonprofit organizations are called to mind, they are easily forgotten.  Please know that I respect your freedom to choose those that are meaningful to you. One way to measure the strength of our community is to observe how we respond to those in greatest need.  Please continue with your kindness and generosity. This week, please volunteer, or donate, as you are able, to St. Luke’s Free Clinic, 162 N Dean St, Spartanburg, SC 29302 – (864) 542-2273.

The beginning of the New Year brings with it a flurry of resolutions, ranging from the impossible to the foolish. Many pledges and promises will be short-lived and will meet with mixed results.

A man in Georgia resolved to win the lottery. He spent so much money on tickets that his exasperated wife left him.

A woman in New York resolved to adopt a new pet every month. Her landlord soon evicted her from her apartment.

Most of us have had the unhappy experience of making resolutions we could not keep. Failure to honor our goals has often left us feeling guilty.

Here are some tongue-in-cheek suggestions that should be relatively easy for us to adopt.

  1. Gain weight, at least 20 pounds.
  2. Stop exercising.
  3. Read less. It makes you think too much.
  4. Watch more TV.
  5. Procrastinate more. Start next week.

The new year is both a time for looking back and for anticipating the year ahead. It’s a time to reflect on the changes that might improve our lives and to resolve to make those changes. According to, the top ten New Year’s resolutions made by contemporary Americans are also the ones we have the most difficulty keeping. This list may help you consider your goals for the coming year.

  1. Lose weight and get fit.
  2. Quit smoking.
  3. Learn something new.
  4. Eat a healthier diet.
  5. Manage money.
  6. Spend more time with family and friends.
  7. Reduce stress.
  8. Make better use of time.
  9. Simplify by getting rid of clutter and becoming organized.
  10. Quit drinking alcohol.

Three psychiatrists at the University of Maryland Medical Center, who are also professors of psychiatry, advise that the key to achieving even the loftiest goals is to get started immediately. Allow action to precede motivation. Don’t wait until the mood seems right. Begin now! 

Consider these additional tips for keeping New Year’s resolutions:

  • A resolution is a dream with a deadline.  A goal without a deadline is wishful thinking. Having a timeline helps to make our resolution a reality. The plan can be accomplished with a timetable to motivate us to work hard.  A deadline inspires us to achieve the desired results. Goals with timelines give us something to anticipate.  Success becomes its own reward.
  • Be positive. Avoid perfectionist thinking. While we certainly want to better ourselves, it is healthier to think positively than to focus on how much we fall short of our aspirations.
  • View setbacks as lessons for growth. Mistakes can be and usually are learning opportunities. If we fall short of our goals, ask what hindered us from achieving them. Then try to make corrections. Resolutions often require midcourse corrections.
  • Make resolutions that are flexible and realistic. We do well to avoid words like never and always in our resolutions. Think in terms of gradual, steady improvement.
  • Sharing our goals with trusted friends gives us a sense of accountability. They can gently nudge us in the right direction when we are off course. Accountability leads to responsibility and contributes to success.  
  • Giving our resolutions personal meaning contributes to our endurance. Our goals are best when they are something we really desire to change or achieve, not just something that others say will be good for us. We are more likely to be successful with strong internal motivation.
  • Set realistic and attainable goals. Take small steps that are likely to be met with success. Join a weight loss program rather than trying to lose ten pounds in a week. Try to lose one pound a week instead.
  • Acknowledge the spiritual component of our goals. A good resolution will honor our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual dimensions.

In my personal experience with New Year’s resolutions, I am more likely to succeed if the goal is not simply self-improvement. A higher purpose is to make life better for others, as well as for ourselves. A few examples may prompt a similar sense of resolve for you. This is a list I have honed over the years:

  1. Express more appreciation for others. Make opportunities to offer a simple thank you. A word of encouragement affirms others and reduces stress for them and for us.
  2. Perform random acts of kindness. These gifts of grace ease the way for others.
  3. Plant a tree or a few flowers to brighten your corner of the world.
  4. Recycle.  Doing so helps the environment and raises our awareness. We need to treat our planet with care.
  5. Give a handshake, a hug, or a pat on the back. Kneel when you speak with a child. Call a person by name and look them in the eye. Personal contact enhances life.
  6. Vote. Your voice makes a difference for us all.
  7. Obey the law, especially when driving. Everybody benefits.
  8. Pray beyond your own circle of concern.  Impart hope to others.

The best resolutions are not only those that make us better individuals but those that make the world a better place for us all.

At the beginning of 2022, we all face the continuation of the global pandemic now so familiar to us as COVID-19. The deaths from the coronavirus worldwide now exceed 5,416,273 people, the number as of December 27, 2021. 

Since the outbreak began, our son-in-law Jason has worked as a nurse on the COVID unit at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. He has seen up close what this pandemic has done to so many people and their families. In my opinion, Jay, and those who work with him, are hometown heroes.

The Plague is a novel by Albert Camus. Published in 1947, it tells the story of a plague sweeping the French-Algerian city of Oran.

The novel became a bestseller during the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.  British publisher Penguin Classics reported struggling to keep up with demand. During its nationwide lockdown, sales in Italy tripled, and it became a top-ten bestseller.  Penguin Classics’ editorial director said, “It couldn’t be more relevant to the current moment.”  Camus’ daughter Catherine noted that the message of the novel had newfound relevance in that “we are not responsible for the coronavirus, but we can be responsible in the way we respond to it.”

In the novel, the narrator and main character is Dr. Bernard Rieux. He is thirty-five years old and is a highly respected surgeon. Some of his colleagues consider him a hero. Rieux says, “There’s no question of heroism in all this. It’s a matter of common decency. That’s an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is — common decency.”

I believe Jay and his colleagues would agree.

There is a resolution for all of us. Common decency is expressed beautifully in the Golden Rule. Treat other people the way you want to be treated.

For several years, I have enjoyed using the daily devotion book Forward Day by Day. It is a quarterly publication of Forward Movement (412 Sycamore St., Cincinnati, OH 45202), an agency of the Episcopal Church. Every issue includes a section entitled “Morning Resolve” that has become a part of my prayer life each day. I have taken the liberty of sharing a slightly different version to be appropriate to people of faith in many religions.

A Morning Resolve for Every Day

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere, and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.

I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep, which I believe God has shown me to be right.

I cannot do this in my own strength, nor even with a hope of success attempt it. Therefore, I look to God for encouragement and strength. Amen.

Kirk H. Neely is a freelance writer, a teacher, a pastoral counselor, and a retired pastor.

He can be reached at

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: