Here's an Adweek interview with Jeff Goodby. Around the 2:25 mark, he points out that the current state of advertising is forcing us to ask questions like, "Am I really lending any value to anything? Am I doing anything anyone cares about? Am I doing anything relevant?"
Normally, when working on an assignment we ask ourselves, "Is this good enough to win an award?" Or "Will this get me a job at a hot agency?"
And to answer those questions we start comparing our work to what we see in the most recent One Show: My print ad looks like this award-winning print ad, so I'm on the right track.
But if we're asking questions like "What can I do that's relevant?" or "What can I do that will be valuable to my book/client/career?" our thinking starts to get a little bigger, and less concerned with what's already won awards.
Try asking yourself questions like Goodby's. Then try answering them.