New Year’s Resolutions – 148 Years Ago

On January 1, 1865, William Skinner sat down with pen and paper, reflected on his character and chronicled his aspirations for the New Year. He wanted to become a better man. He wanted to swear less, control his emotions better, get up on time in the morning, work harder, follow the Bible, and in all ways be more dutiful in the eyes of the Lord.

The New Year fell on a Sunday in 1865 and one wonders what he heard in church that day – what might have inspired him to write with such consciousness of his mortality, fallibility and dependence upon God’s grace.

These are the only written New Year’s resolutions of Skinner’s that survive, and they provide the closest thing to a self-reflection that he ever wrote. While they give us a rich glimpse of his flaws and desires, they also invite us to think of our own – and what we might aspire to improve in the coming year.


“To day being first of January 1865 I write down the following resolutions which by help of God I hope to keep & practice

1st – To use no profane words

2 – To read & study the Bible with reference to my own salvation

3 – Never to omit saying my prayers at night & morning

4 – To rise every morning at the second Bell

5 – To govern my Temper & not get excited

6 – To be more diligent in business

7 – To consider it a duty to always attend Church

And now Almighty God my heavenly Father give me strength & wisdom for without thy help I can do nothing to carry out these resolutions & should I be permitted to see another new year may I look back upon this year as the beginning of a new life.


William Skinner”


May we all look back upon this new year as the beginning of a new and wondrous chapter in our lives. Happy New Year!

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