The goal is the print, and the print is the summary of all the previous steps in your process.

While you have 'leeway' of +/- 25% in contrast with multigrade paper, you are best off if you leave that 'leeway' to creative choice rather than saving your ass, so your goal is always to make negatives that print well on something in the middle from Grade 2 to 3, let's say.
That leaves room on BOTH sides of 'normal' to increase or decrease contrast fairly dramatically.

Think of the film processing as a bolt, and the paper being a nut. To make them fit together they have to be the same thread. Same with negs and paper - the better you fit the negative tone curve to the paper tone curve, the easier it will be for you in the darkroom come printing time. Your rate of wasting paper will be significantly reduced, which is a real benefit in this day and age, where paper is really expensive. I print with Ilford papers, usually 11x14, and that paper is almost three US dollars per sheet now. Film is comparatively inexpensive compared to that.