Do this if you need to make decisions better and faster
These three things can help you make smarter and faster decisions.
For some people, decision-making comes easily. When faced with multiple options, these lucky few quickly and confidently pick the one that they think would work best.
But for the rest of us, making decisions can be a challenge — especially if you have a time limit and it's a major life decision.
Believe it or not, it's entirely possible to get better — and faster — at making decisions. Dean Graziosi, a New York Times best-selling author and entrepreneur has come up with three tips for choosing the best option when speed and time both count. Keep these in mind the next time you're faced with a major decision, either at work or at home:
Understand that decision-making isn't black and white
We're conditioned to believe that there are either "good" or "bad" decisions, but in reality, most fall somewhere in the middle. Coming to terms with this is a big part of allowing yourself to trust the decisions you make in a relatively short period of time, Graziosi says. Part of this involves letting go of decisions you made in the past that you weren't entirely satisfied with and not letting them haunt you in the present, or with regard to your decisions about the future.
"Inevitably, when we hit these proverbial crossroads, when we choose one road over the other, there will be plenty of consequences," he says. "Our choices do impact our relationships, our home lives — everything impacts everything." The key to reducing your stress about that is to give yourself a break, and realize that there are positive and negative implications to everything… and that's ok.
Focus on what could go right
Of course, Graziosi isn't saying that we should entirely block out any potential negative consequences when making a decision, but it's crucial — especially when we're in a time crunch — to focus more on the positives and on what could go right. Though this sounds like a relatively simple switch, in reality, it can make a big difference.
"Focusing on the positives creates, in turn, positive energy, which makes us more creative and more genuinely inspired," he says. "It encourages clear thinking. It even opens up a more clear line of communication between your mind and your gut — allowing you to feel your way to the right, more correct decision, as informed by your core values and your capital-B Big Goals."
Similarly, an article in the Harvard Business Review explained that although corporations have spent a lot of time and money on strategic planning, in practice, the process can actually a barrier to good decision-making. The authors don't argue that planning isn't important (of course, it is!), but they point out that sometimes we can get so focused on avoiding negative outcomes that it prevents us from making better, faster decisions.
It's OK to change — or challenge — your core values
Most people don't hold the same set of beliefs their entire lives — and that's normal and healthy. It means we have an open mind and are willing to learn about new perspectives. This is also an important part of effective decision-making: Graziosi says that we have to give ourselves the freedom to change our core values if they no longer make sense.
But beyond simply having the freedom to change our core beliefs, being able to reason and reconsider our positions on something is an important part of being human, as Aristotle writes in Nicomachean Ethics. Exercising our ability for rational thought, and rethinking situations we previously thought we had figured out not only strengthens our character, it also makes us better decision-makers.
The example Graziosi gives is someone staying in a bad marriage because they were raised Catholic and taught that this was an unacceptable way for a relationship to end. In reality, though, this person may rethink their beliefs and make the decision to get a divorce, knowing that it's the best option for them in the long-run.
The same type of thing can happen in the workplace, too. Let's say you work for an advertising agency and, as a matter of principle, only represent companies whose products you've used and loved. At one point, though, you're offered the chance to work with a new client whose products you're unfamiliar with, but who seems like a compelling partner when you meet. In this case, you may rethink your own stance and make the decision to work with them. In either case, it's crucial to understand that as humans, we grow and change, and our decisions — and decision-making — can and should reflect that.
- 9 Habits That Make You a Better Decision Maker ›
- 5 Tips for Better Decision Making | Psychology Today ›
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Is this proof of a dramatic shift?
- Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
- Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
- A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses
Dramatic and misleading
Image: Reddit / SICResearch
The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.
Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.
The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.
Let's zoom in:
- It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
- By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
- Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
- In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
- Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
- By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.
Image source: Reddit / SICResearch
This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?
- "The end is near."
- "The idiocracy grows."
- "(It's) like a spreading disease."
- "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
- "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
- "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
- "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
- "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."
Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:
- "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
- "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
- "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
- "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."
"Old people learning to Google"
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)
But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:
- "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
- "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
- "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
- "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."
A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.
The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.
One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.
Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.
It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.
CNN, Fox and MSNBC
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison
For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):
- Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
- MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
- CNN: 706,000 (-9%)
And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
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