Don't think that setting goals is reserved for New Years alone. Kids start a fresh school year every autumn, so there's no reason not to use the fall to create a fresh start for yourself as well. With cooler temperatures comes renewed energy, so don't let your goal-setting efforts be limited by starting a new calendar year. Fall is a great time to set some goals. Or use this time to revisit the goals you've already set for the year and ensure you're on track to reach them.
Whether you're thinking of setting professional or personal goals, make certain they're S.M.A.R.T. ones! If your existing goals aren't SMART, make them that way now.
Specific: Make your goals very specific. You should be able to answer the "5 W's" about each goal you set: Who, What, Where, When and Why.
Measurable: You must be able to objectively measure your progress. If you haven't developed a means to measure, you'll never attain your goal. It's easy to measure weight loss and exercise improvement, but other goals may take more creative thinking to determine the means to measure. The good news? Anything that gets measured gets improved.
Attainable: Sure, maybe you want zero waste on the shop floor, but is that really attainable? Is the cost/benefit ratio really worth the effort? Make certain your goal can be reached... but not too easily!
Realistic: You must be both willing and able to reach the goal you set for yourself. "Completing a marathon before the end of the year" is probably not very realistic if you can't run a mile; however, if you truly believe your goal can be attained, then it's probably realistic.
Timely: You know the importance of setting deadlines. Goals are no different. Without any sort of time frame, they're simply wishes that will likely go unfulfilled. "Lose ten pounds" is laudable, but the real question is by when? Every goal needs a deadline.