I read this post on Seth Godin's blog, and I immediately related to it. I have thought about this issue constantly (it seems) since I began my career many years ago. Every day I try to figure out what are the most important things for me to accomplish.
It reminds me of the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort. Or in public accounting terms, 80% of your firm's revenue, generally comes from 20% of your clients.
At your job, what are "the right things?" What should you be getting done that you aren't? What are you working on that isn't producing results?
In this day and age, when the world seems to be moving faster and faster, we can't do everything and be effective and fulfilled. Hence, we must choose. We must choose to do some things and not others.
I started a new position last year with a new firm and faced many changes and challenges. But perhaps the biggest challenge was ambiguity (or the lack of a clear path to success). Over the past year, it has been a feeling-out process to figure out what works or what may work. Also, figuring out what to focus on and what not to focus on. I have learned alot, but it will be a continual learning process and I must remain flexible. Hence, I am afraid that the challenge of figuring out "the right things" may continue.
With that said, I think the road to finding "the right things" is to keep it simple. Don't get overwhelmed by "the noise" (as some like to say). Filter the noise, put your feet on the ground, focus on things that you can control (not the things you can't) and go for it.
Do the work. Find a way.