Monday, February 28, 2011

Collecting Focus

Like many of you I have been collecting sports cards and memorabilia most of my life. The difference between us may be that I’m a little longer in the tooth and that means that I have had more time to “accumulate” things.

From time-to-time I find myself having to refocus my collecting habits. There are so many choices of things to collect in this day and age. When I was a kid there was one card set a year per sport so while you might collect multiple sports you were still capped at how many offerings were available to you in a given year.

Nowadays it is just like everything else in our world-sensory overload. And unfortunately when your mind (or your house!) becomes cluttered that can lead to a little less joy with your hobby. That’s because you spend as much time trying to figure out what to do with all of your stuff as opposed to being able to spend real quality time with it.

I am as guilty as anyone of falling prey to trying to collect everything. We automatically set ourselves up to fail as it simply can’t be done. Part of the joy of collecting is the “completing” aspect along with the “chase” aspect. But if all you ever do is chase then where is the fun in that? We are all competitive and we all want to win (finish) every once in awhile!

Even trying to collect a favorite athlete’s trading cards can be problematic. If you are a Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Derek Jeter fan then you’ll need to take out a second mortgage to try and amass all of their cards. It can almost be a curse to cheer for the most popular teams as they often have the most collectible players therefore ensuring a higher demand for the cards of those players. If you are a Kansas City Royals fan you are A-okay!

So what can we do to keep things interesting yet achievable? Focus! But we can make focus fun and affordable too. For example, here’s an approach I have taken to going back and collecting the baseball superstars from when I was a kid (Clemente, Aaron, Gibson and Mays to name a few). I have been collecting League Leader cards that feature these players (or not). Not only is it often a chance to have more than one of them pictured on the same card but they are affordable too! They often cost far less than the player’s common card from the same year. I have been trying to complete these by individual years, one year at a time.

Let’s talk about current cards. You love Dale Jr. but wow, there are a lot of cards out there. How about an approach of trying to collect all of his cards where he has a beard!? That focuses the chase a bit. Or maybe you want a little more variety with a challenge so you could go after non-memorabilia insert cards. That would provide a challenge but wouldn’t completely deplete your Daytona 500 trip money.

My purpose here is to point out that we collect cards and memorabilia as a hobby and an outlet. At the point it becomes overwhelming then it is no longer fun. So every time that I personally start to reach that point with my own collection I just refocus. Sometimes that means I purge some cards to allow me to begin a different pursuit. And that in itself is very exciting because one of the best parts about collecting as a kid was “trading” with your buddies. Think of a purge as just an adult’s way of trading!

One of the best things about our hobby and industry are the myriad of choices. Get creative with how you choose to continue your collecting quest and it will lead to more fun-filled times with family, friends and even yourself.

No comments: