I’m a collector. I love the process of adding new things to collections and seeing those things accumulate.
The problem is, once the rush of adding to a collection is over, there’s not much left to do. One can organize a collection (and reorganize it… and reorganize it again), but that has pretty limited appeal.
Eventually – and it’s often pretty quickly – the desire shifts around again towards adding to that collection. The rush of adding something new is over, so it’s time to seek that rush again.
I’ve also found that, over time, that rush of adding something new decreases each time as the collection grows larger.
In other words, the financial cost of collecting is pretty high and the personal returns diminish over time.
Take a book collection, for instance. If you collect books, you’ll often have a tendency to accumulate them a bit faster than you read them. The rush of getting a new book is high… until you really start to realize how many unread books you have. Then, the rush of each new book gets smaller and smaller… yet you’re somehow driven to keep collecting, to touch that rush you’ve felt from picking up a great book and bringing it home with you.
So far, I’ve only found one successful way for me to break this cycle of expensive collecting of physical items.
I focus on collecting accomplishments, not things.
Rather than collecting books, I’ve moved on to trying to build a collection of “books I’ve read.” I’m keeping a careful list and I get that same proud rush when I can add a book to that list of reads. I’m no longer worried about buying books at all – I’m perfectly happy to get them at the library or to download classics.
Rather than collecting games, I’m more interested in a list of games I’ve played or electronic games I’ve “beaten” (or played to some satisfactory level of completion). I now prefer to stick with games until I’ve thoroughly played them or else trade them with friends. I also love going to community board game nights.
Since those were my two real collection fetishes (other than finding rocks, which was a free hobby), transitioning away from collecting material items into collecting experiences and accomplishments has been a real success.
If you find your wallet being slowly drained by your desire to collect something, try a different tactic. Start collecting experiences instead.
Start making a list of the books you’ve read. Collect the computer languages you’ve written a complex application in. Collect the films you’ve watched. Collect the friends you’ve had meaningful conversations with in the last six months.
You’ll soon find that collecting these things is not only enjoyable and incredibly inexpensive, but the success from them lasts and lasts.