Thank you for this question, it got me thinking for 10 minutes. Imagine that, as a researcher, you are always going to listen and learn anything you are interested in, or dig into any subject that you like. It is frequent that the long term question “what do I want to achieve, ultimately, in my research?” completely disappears of your mind.
Quite naively, I would be happy to contribute in a great innovation in my domain. But honestly, this is not my main drive. For the moment, my daily routine in research is more like a fascinating game which makes me happy to play every day (solving problems etc.) without thinking too much of the deep meaning behind it.
Of course, at some point, I would love to find a problem whose solution would be a scientific breakthrough, which would require me to work for years by collaborating with a range of experts.
And you; do you already have an idea of something you want to achieve, even vaguely, in your life or career?