How I Learned to Stop Being a Collector and to Start Enjoying my Collection

I’m a collector, a visit to my toy room is all it takes to see that.  I’m a collector of toys, movies, books and comic books, games and video games.  As a collector though I often lose out on much of the enjoyment of the exact things I’m collecting.  As a child I played with many of the toys and even new toys can be enjoyed as display pieces but there are many movies that have gone unwatched, books and comic books unread and games and video games not played.

Beginning the Journey

Two years ago I started correcting this, I started reading again and with the help of Goodreads I entered a Reading Challenge and set a goal to read six books during the course of the year.  Some people may look at six books and think “wow you’re really setting the bar as low as you can aren’t you?” but at that point I looked at it as “I really hope I can do this!”.  I’m not a reader, or at least I wasn’t a reader at that point.  Sure I had read a few books here and there, the Harry Potter books, Lord of the Rings, but those were challenges to finish in time to go see the movies!  So I really had to find a way to approach this in a way I wasn’t setting myself up to fail.

Taking Small Steps

I had to look at realistically what I felt I could do per day and work from there.  I am a slow reader and sometimes while reading I start to drift in thought so I limited myself to roughly ten pages a day.  Ten pages a day roughly gives way to completing an average book in about a month and a half, with room to throw in a few days here and there for those busy days when you don’t get to read.  Probably the most important part about taking these small steps was that it started to get me accustomed to reading to the point where I stopped seeing reading as the chore it once was and began to enjoy and look forward to it.

One Small Step for Books, One Giant Leap for Everything Else

I am now on my third year of that reading challenge and have now read more books in two years than I probably did in the prior 40.  After my first year of the reading challenge I started thinking about where to go next, what else do I terribly neglect?  The answer was very clear, I buy a lot of video games, and rarely see many to the end.  So in 2017 I set out to challenge myself to finish 12 games in 12 months.  How in god’s name was I going to do this?  How was I going to find the time?

Taking what I learned from reading I looked for ways to translate that to video games.  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to play for hours a night and I simply couldn’t play 10 pages of a video game, but much like books many games still have chapters.  So I began looking through my backlog for games that I could play piece by piece, breaking down sections and chapters based on how many days in the month.

Breaking games down like this I had definitive start and end points for any given day and knew where I was and how on track I was.  This suddenly had the unexpected bonus of letting me enjoy and experience a game rather than feel I had to rush through it.  Sure there were some cheat games along the way that I had already started but that was offset by a few that I had to start over because it had been so long.  I’m happy to report that by the end of 2017 I had finished off twelve amazing and fun games and surely a new record by a long shot for games completed in a year.

Once a Collector, Always a Collector

Every collector has a backlog.  Although getting started on reading and playing and this year watching stuff from my collection it’s still a never-ending battle to get through it all.  Lets take movies for example, my goal this year is to now watch at least one movie from my backlog every week, but there are weeks I may add 2 – 3 movies to that backlog.  One of the things that I have at least tried to implement is to use new purchases as rewards for completing something.  However ultimately working through the backlog is simply about enjoying a collection, not eliminating it.

I once used to joke that I was collecting all these movies with the assumption that someday I would watch them all.  Like at some point in the future they would stop making new movies and I’d be set.  In some ways I have gotten better, it’s easier to not buy books or new trade paperbacks as I work through the ones I am reading from my collection, it’s a bit harder with video games.

New Challenges and Forging the Future

It’s funny to think of having to train yourself to enjoy entertainment but it’s not a far stretch, especially at an older age.  Two years ago the thought of reading was annoying for me, today I look forward to my next book and picking out the books for year and finding new authors that I enjoy reading.  Enjoying a year of video games has brought me back to enjoying the stories of video games and I am looking to challenge myself with adding a few longer multi month epic games this year on top of still completing a game a month.  This year along with watching more movies I have added a “read a comic book a day” challenge for myself.

Sometimes our lives just get so busy that we forget to enjoy the guilty pleasures in life, we feel like we just don’t have the time to do these things.  Admittedly something has to give, for me it’s trying to limit television shows, although Netflix really has made that a challenge!  It’s nice to get back to watching movies though, its funny when you think you go through a year without seeing very many movies when there were so many you wanted to see.

When I tell people what I’m doing they always seem shocked and ask “How do you have so much time”?  It’s simple I make time, but I’m not carving out hours of my day.  One hour, give yourself just one hour a day (OK maybe two if you’re watching a movie).  Carve out that little piece of the day for yourself, grab a book or sit down with a video game and enjoy!