"All my life I've had one dream: to achieve my many goals."
One of the most difficult things in life (perhaps the most), is trying to figure out what to do with it. To find some sort of reason behind it all. For some people, this might never be answered. Others turn to religion or something similar to tell them what to do. And some already have a reason.
They've found a Goal in Life.
It might be anything from just trying to have a good life to saving REALITY ITSELF! The one thing they all share though is a purpose to go through their lives to accomplish that goal.
The protagonist accomplishing it often constitutes the end of the story, usually in a Grand Finale.
Someone who forgets his Goal in Life has suffered Motive Decay. The Motivation Index has a few life long goals that a person's Goal in Life maybe expressed through, although not all would qualify, especially if it's not specific enough or too short term. See the related Series Goal for the goal of the work in question, instead of an individual character's goal. Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life is for those whose Goal in Life is to find a Goal in Life.
- To cut a long list short, every To Be a Master show ever.
- A major point in the second OVA of So Ra No Wo To where Kanata asks just about every major character what their dreams and goals, all while attempting to figure out what her own is.
- Yuuko has occasionally struggled with this in Nichijou.
- Following one's dreams is a major topic in the Lyrical Nanoha franchise. With the main characters' dream being to create a future where all children are free to dream without exception. Also, most villains have rather sympathetic goals but their methods always impose upon others' dreams—usually because of external circumstances preventing them from achieving their dreams more peacefully. The eponymous character's patent solution to clearing these obstacles? Firepower. Lots and lots of firepower.
- The heroes in Mystery Team just want to gain back the respect of the neighborhood... which they haven't had since they were seven.
- Wowbagger, the Infinitely Prolonged from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has set himself the life goal of insulting the universe. More specifically, he intends to insult every being in it - individually, personally, one at a time, and in alphabetical order. It's not much of a goal, as he'd be the first to admit, but he says it passes the time (which, being immortal, he has a lot of).
- The Vorlon and Shadow Questions in Babylon 5 are all about this. The Vorlons ask "Who are you?" to understand what someone already has and what parts of their past and present define their present outlook (and thus how they can 'nurture you' to their liking). The Shadows ask "What do you want?" as a way to understand someone's future ambitions, motivations and goals (and thus how they can 'help you along').
- Graz'zt of Dungeons & Dragons fame has, understandably, countless goals in his immortal, infernal life. His true Goal in Life drives all other goals and all other plans, including his eternal war against Demogorgon and Orcus for the role of Prince of Demons and his plan to absorb a Material Plane world into the Abyss. This goal is to unite all the Lower Planes (not just the Abyss) to create a near-impossible army of fiends that he would lead to tear down the Upper Planes into multiversal dust in the most glorious blood bath ever to grace reality. Which is quite Badass, if you think about it.
- In Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai it's a central plot point in Wanko's route. Seeing her working so hard for the sake of her goal inspires Yamato to revive his own childhood dream of becoming a man capable of moving Japan itself, i.e. the Prime Minister. In the epilogue ten years later, he's shown to have worked his way up to becoming a city council member. Momoyo's route features the same idea, but with slightly different motivations.
- In the universe of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, every young pony dreams of finding their true calling. Once they've found it, an apparently permanent mark appears on their flank, indicating their lifelong destiny.
- Homer Simpson has had frequent "lifelong dreams" parodying the concept (such as rushing onto the field during a baseball game), the played straight-est version being when he revealed he's always wanted to own the Dallas Cowboys. He gets started on the road towards Cowboy ownership buy (a) buying Tom Landry's Cool Hat from a collectible store and (b) being given the Denver Broncos by a Super Villain he briefly worked for. Homer wasn't happy about (b), though, since the Broncos were the laughing stock of the NFL at the time, a far cry from the then-dominant Cowboys.
- Humanity's life long dream: to solve its problems on earth, then just build a huge freaking tower for building a huge freaking towers sake.
- It's never mentioned what happens to those who reconsider their goal...