The real goal of SEO is not to achieve a certain ranking or position in the search results. Good SEO provides more traffic to your website. This traffic will be related to the particular search terms that you have optimized your site for. If you do a good job, then the traffic which gets delivered to your website will specifically be the traffic that is interested in what you have to offer. The real goal of SEO is therefore to deliver targeted traffic to your website who will be ultra-responsive to what you have to offer.
If you're conducting SEO for a business then the ultimate goal is for that business to make money. They do that by selling products or services for less than it costs to provide them, including costs spent on advertising and SEO.
I know that I can get caught up in the fun of trying to help sites rank higher in Google as opposed to the real goal.
Just my $0.02,
- lee -