When you really want something, and you have the means to get it, what do you do? How do you measure your desire to gauge if this isn’t a decision you’ll regret later? Learning about delayed gratification can help build a muscle that serves many uses.
One technique I use for this, is to ask myself “Do I want this with 100% of my being?”. That’s a bit of a deep question when you’re buying a video game, or something rather inconsequential, but it gets the point across — that this is something you wouldn’t want to live without. I imagine what life would be like the day I got it, the day after that, the month after that and the year after that. If it’s still 100% on all of those days, then the streak starts — with 1.
Depending on the price of the item, I have a personal rule that I need a streak of the price of the item divided by $50 before making any large purchase. So for a $300 PlayStation 4, I would need to answer those questions and have it return a yes 6 days in a row. This isn’t an instantaneous question where I ask myself and get an answer, but a thought exercise thinking about the device potentially sitting unused a year from now, and understanding if I would be 100% OK with that.
Your number may be less or more than $50 — whatever works for you. If you are practicing poverty, then this exercise should be easy.
Completing a Streak
The situation imagined changes for every purchase, and for things under $100 I don’t use this visualization for — unless it’s something I expect to still be in my life a year from now. After waiting the required number of days, if you’ve been able to maintain your same level of desire, then this usually means that this is going to be a positive addition to my life.
This doesn’t work for everything. If you’re making a large purchase, like buying a house or a car, you can’t use this same technique. That doesn’t mean you can’t apply some of the same mindfulness to these additions though, but with, perhaps a different measurement.