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How important is Having a Focus When Collecting? I have wanted to write this blog for a while now. I think it is important and not talked about nearly as much as it should be. I want to go over my and other people’s journey when they are collecting and the different “phase” people go through. I want to say this journey is not what everyone will go through, but I have noticed patterns of collecting and even had numerous friends agree this is what happened to them as well.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, collecting is fun! That is why we all do it. It can be crazy and fast paced at times, but something I wish I did was slow down and think about what want to actually build towards. I made a lot of mistakes in collecting and going back, I wish I knew then what I know now. My main take away would be having a focus. It can save you lots of time, money and stress from readjusting your collection goals down the line. For the sake of the blog, I will use Video Games as the example as this is what happened to me.
When you first start collecting, you are energetic, excited and want to grow your collection as fast as possible. You bought every video game you could think of that had some sort of connection to you by the fastest means possible. You try to find a connection with what you are about to purchase. Your middle school friend had that game when you were a kid, well you need it in you collection! You played this video game at a party in high school, well you need that game in you collection! A game you wanted to play when you were younger and missed out on. Consoles you never owned but wanted to. Even something as far-fetched as “I am pretty sure I wanted this game when I was kid” would convince you that you need it.
Now, you start exploring out and actively searching out games. You don’t really have a particular game in mind, you’re just looking for games. You looked at garage sale, you went to thrift stores and buy copies of games you already own. You even bought games off friends who no longer want them or had them from their childhood. If you saw a great deal for a game, you’ve never heard of, well, its half off! Might as well buy it! Right!? Any place you could find games at, you bought them. You go a little crazy because that reality of a huge collection is so close but still so far.
You’re collecting, having a great time, the collection is growing. You think of what you need to complete next. You have moved very fast up until this point. You now start filling in holes in the collection just to “complete” sub collections. A sub collection is a smaller collection within a larger collecting group. For example, a video game collection is the main group, but collecting the N64 controller colors is a sub collection. Now, you have convinced yourself you will slowly complete this over time. You have Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, so you buy 1 and 4. You have 7 of the 12 Game Boy Advance NES Collection Games, you need the remaining 5. Before you know it, you have twenty sub collections you need to complete. You slowly get these games but you didn’t really want them, but you feel you need them.
So, now your collection has grown to a massive size and you have so much stuff. However, you start wondering why you bought some of it. You wonder why you have doubles and even wondering if you care about some games. This is when fatigue starts to set in. You went too hard and too fast into collection and now realize you were just collecting to collect. Sure, some games mean the world to you, but others you look at with regret. You don’t play a lot of the games you have, and know you know realistically you never will. It just sits on your shelf and collects dust. You glance at it once in a while, remember how you obtained it, but that’s where it ends. You sank money into a bunch of games and have numerous incomplete sub collections. You find yourself in a pickle. Do you continue to put money into games and sub collections that you don’t have a huge passion for anymore? Do you cut your losses and move on with a partially complete collection, or just sell everything to try to recoup some money. You thinking and wondering to yourself what you could have better spent the money on instead. Mainly being something that you actually want in your collection. You are now even starting to run out of room to store all the stuff you have acquired. After you have come to this realization, you think it’s time to downsize. You want to start selling your games but realized its actually harder than you though and feel trapped. As you look at your collection you start to feel like a hoarder and not a collector.
Then you have an epiphany, if you only had a focus from the beginning, you wouldn’t be in this situation! You start going through your collection and start “trimming the fat” so you can put the money into the games you really want. Don’t worry, this is all normal! Once you run the course of the above phases and you get worn out, you will want to have a strategy of how to continue. I know a lot of people including myself that have many sub collections that are not even close to being complete. I have lost interest in completing a lot of them because I would just be buying random games and not ones that I actually wanted. I was too busy worrying about building my collection I didn’t stop to figure out what I was actually building.
You need to think carefully of what you really want out of collecting. When you look at your collection, you should be saying, this defines me as a collector. Do you just want a massive collection that fills up a wall? Possibly only very rare and sought-after games? Maybe you want just things that you have a very personal connection to as a child. Do you love a certain console, maybe just collect for that console or variants of that console? Controllers, your favorite series or genre of game? The options for collecting are limitless. The important thing is to make sure your collection represents you! These will make you feel the most fulfilled in the end.
Once you figure that out, collecting takes on a whole new life. Trying to find that one game, controller, special edition or something you really want is so exhilarating. Going into a game store and hoping to stumble upon it, seeking it out at a convention, or even connecting with people on the Collect A Hobby Lets Make A Trade Group to see if anyone has one for trade. It becomes much more rewarding experience. Searching for an item that you have wanted for weeks, months, even years and finding it is such a great feeling. When you look at that item on your shelf, you will remember the search, journey and the ending destination on your shelf. You will be proud to have it and it will be cherished. You are collecting with reason rather than just chaos. You start looking at your collection as a collection and just not a hodge-podge of things you’ve found or bought.
The Two Two Rules
I have two rules that I follow. I have a two-month rule and a two-grail rule. I try to follow them and maybe you can too if you are struggling with impulse buying or growing your collection without reason.
First, the two-month rule is if I see someone post an item on Instagram or watch a YouTube video of a game I suddenly want, I wait two months before purchasing it. I try to avoid the impulse purchase and most likely regret. If after two months I still want it just as bad when I watched that video, I think it’s pretty safe to say I genuinely want the game. It wasn’t an emotional reaction and I pick it up. This has helped me cut back immensely on over buying and over spending on things I don’t really want.
Now, the two-grail rule. Have two items that you consider to be grails to yourself. These are not easily obtainable, maybe even down right impossible to obtain. These have to be games you need in your collection. If you see it come up for sale, you can buy it immediately. You don’t have to wait for a better price that might never come, these are your grails after all! This will give you that feeling of the search and chase without buying everything you see. It also allows you to have an impulse option so you do not feel like you are only just waiting to buy things.
In conclusion, I think I tried to lay out as well as I could the importance of Having a Focus When Collecting. The above phases that I just went through start over every time you start a new hobby to collect for. This happened to me twice. That is why you should be careful when starting up a new collection to not jump right in. After you read this, you don’t have to change your collecting habits, or even listen to my advice, but I hope that you look at your collection a little differently. I know that many people, including myself have fell victim to the above series of events. I still am working on my collection, as I think everyone reading this is, but I truly believe that having a focus brings a little order to this chaotic hobby known as collecting.
I am curious as to what everyone is collecting and focusing on so let me know in the comments!