If I am ever to begin to tackle him, I would like to first know if he had set himself with a unitary goal or objective that is discernible throughout his work.
Hegel wrote two books on logic. His Science of Logic (1812–1816) and his Encyclopaedia Logic (1817). For Hegel logic is more like the ancient logos so it includes not only the formal arrangement of things but also the grounds of things, i.e. metaphysics. His Logic comes prior to his Phenomenology. Though more difficult and less of a go to text in the Anglo-American tradition it most definitely is the place to start. One understands how he arrived at his conception of the historical world-spirit by understanding his logic. One understands how he deals with phenomena by understanding his logic.
To situate Hegel one needs to have a clear idea what H. was objecting to in Kant's work, but that is another days's work.
With that out of the way, you want to know
"if he had set himself with a unitary goal or objective that is discernible throughout his work."
Like all systematic thinkers his goal is to explains things as he sees them. Insofar as that is anyone's goal that is his goal. But, what motivated him was to right the philosophical errors he felt that Kant committed.
We could ask how successful he was in this project. I think it is fair to say that his prejudice that the world is essentially rational guided his thinking. Schopenhauer's main beef with Hegel I believe is that S. asserted that the world is inherently irrational. Neither viewpoint, of course, allows the world to reveal itself as it is, both viewpoints pre-judge the world.
A technical primer for the Science of Logic is at nLab.