Yeah I agree, it is very satisfying when you achieve the goals you set for your self, especially with a game like this, it requires a lot of thought and patience, unlike say the TW series where you just flatten all opposition in a few turns.
I do try to take my time, think things over such as alliances and wars I fight, but its still a steep learning curve. I've had this game a while now, and I do play it on and off, so I'm not a complete noob at it I just need to spend more time playing it and trying new things. Although I do have a lot of noobish moments haha.
Basically, my main goal in the game is just to simply run my country, defend it, build it up into a great power. I'm not really interested in world domintion through wars, which is strange cause I LOVE war, battles, strategy and tactics. What you described there is what I do try to do, I want to force my will on the world through diplomacy and intelligence rather than through military might, so much more satisfying I think.
I would love to have a multiplayer game, but I don't think I'm quite ready for that yet, it would be a greater game experience though I will definitely try it in the future! As long as I can find a decent person to play it with.