I heard an executive coach saliently capture one of our fundamental needs during one of my conversations with him. He said, "We all just want to feel effective."
I'd never heard it phrased so pithily before, but I think the guy is spot on.
In family life, in spiritual life, in personal life, in professional life, we all just want to feel as if we're being effective. I suspect the word "effective" has a wide range of meanings for us, dependent on our individual contexts.
As I have reflected on what it means to me personally, I think it boils down to whether or not I believe I have been focusing my attention on the BIG and RIGHT things as opposed to focusing on the inconsequential things. I feel most effective when I am engaged in work and tasks that are clearly connected to my big picture goals in life and work. I feel least effective when I spend my time dealing with stuff that seems to have no eternal significance.
Do I still wash the dishes? Yep.
Do I continue to submit reports? Alas, yes.
Do I keep on reviewing policy? Afraid so.
Do I remain attentive to those dastardly spreadsheets and the bottom lines of black or red? Sure.
Those are not the things that energize me, that keep me coming back. The challenge is to do those tasks without letting those tasks become the BIG PICTURE.
Maintaining focus is a matter of habit and prioritization. And, oddly, it seems like the best time to re-focus is when we begin feeling ineffective.