The idea of making resolutions at New Year in the name of ‘self-improvement’ has never sat easily with me. If you ask me, January is the worst time of year to turn over a new leaf. It’s cold, it’s dark, and there’s no Yuletide festival on the horizon to look forward to anymore. There’s always been something vaguely punitive and infantilising about the notion of making New Year’s resolutions: ‘This year, I will be a better person, I promise’.

So this year, I’m setting intentions instead. What do I want to invite more of into my life? What can I let go of that is no longer serving me? What will bring me more joy? More peace? More love? And how can I serve in a way that pours more joy, peace and love back into the world? 

For me, January offers an invitation to exercise more compassion and to be gentle – with myself and others. This theme of compassion and gentleness also radiates throughout the January issue of Coaching Today.

Our lead article in this issue celebrates the publication of the long-awaited coaching competence framework. In A Map for the Journey, consultant to the competences project, David Britten, outlines some of the key aspects of the framework and addresses questions and concerns raised by members of BACP who coach. When reading the first draft of David’s article, I was struck by his beautiful metaphor of the intrepid coach-therapist practitioner who embarks on a journey – a journey that can feel lonely at times, sometimes hazardous, but is always one of discovery and insights. The competence framework, he explains, can be viewed simply as a map to accompany us on that journey – a map that acknowledges the considerable skill and remarkable wisdom of the traveller, garnered from years of experience.

In the same way that a framework provides a map rather than a ladder of attainments, to me, setting an intention gives us a direction of travel rather than a goal or destination to reach.

This issue also includes a special focus on the benefits of outdoor coaching and working with nature, with two feature articles by Lesley Roberts in Out of office and Linda Aspey in Learning from the oak tree, while our research column, Research digest, looks at incidences of burnout in the counselling and coaching profession. Meanwhile, our Coaching in Practice column explores health and wellbeing coaching, and Carolyn Mumby of our Social Impact special interest group (SIG) introduces the bounded instability model and its effectiveness as a tool in compassionate co-creation, collaboration and diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) practice in The place of creativity.

While putting together this January issue, I was reminded that there can be no true compassion without self-compassion; and we cannot be gentle with others, with the Earth and with the world at large if we don’t have the wisdom or courage to first be gentle with ourselves.

If you have an idea for an article, or a response to the latest issue, get in touch with me – I’d love to hear from you.