There’s a discussion on Facebook ATM about lists of goals on theatre-style character sheets, and whether players of such games like them or not. Because it was started on a personal page, its not appropriate to summarise the comments here, but there’s some useful stuff. And hopefully some of the participants will contribute here, so their thoughts won’t disappear down the Facebook memory-hole.
Speaking for myself: as a player, I find goal lists to be a useful starting point. Typically they give me a couple of explicit directions I can go in before the chaos takes over. I think they’re probably also useful for beginning players who feel lost about what to do.
Goals don’t have to be called that, of course. “Ambitions” is a nice way of putting it for some genres. Or you can explicitly call it “starting points” or “directions”, or even just “things to do in the game”. And you can have varying levels of complexity - while a three item bullet list is standard, On Display was notable for having a long, layered list, full of "alternatively"s, which made it clear that all of this was about options and choices. The Kestrel Saga instead has detailed notes, there as a summary (because the character sheets are so long) and including an explicit note that they are suggestions, not constraints. Both methods are great if that suits your writing-style and space constraints.
As a designer, I find goals absolutely essential. If you’re writing traditional theatre-style using traditional design (as opposed to e.g. freeform or framework or workshop-based games), you absolutely need to know what the characters want. The answers to that go straight into the plot spreadsheet, and so the goal-lists effectively define the structure of the game, establishing conflicts, alliances, and the varying directions the game can go in in play. The goals get written into the characters (hopefully in a way that makes sense for them), but I tend to just transplant the list straight onto the character sheet somewhere as well, usually at the end, both as a prompt for the player and a check for me during the editing process.
(What sorts of goals you should have, whether they’re external or internal, open or closed, or even achieveable - that’s a different question, the answer to which depends on design and style preferences).