The Most Important Sports Card Collecting Goal You Can Make This Year

When you click on links to various merchants on this site, like eBay, and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

January is always a time for reflections and fresh starts. Really, this can happen at any point over the course of the year but a new calendar offers a blank slate — both in the real and metaphorical senses. For card collectors (and really any kind of collectors), the new year offers fresh opportunities to look back at what you’ve got and what direction you want to go in the months ahead.

Personally, I usually take the new year to set some concrete goals like finishing a particular number of sets, getting a specific card or two, and knocking five more cards off my 1985 Topps Garbage Pail Kids Original Series 1 want list.

But that’s me and my collection.

For you, it’s going to be different because it’s your collection.

Therein lies what should be a cornerstone goal every collector should have this year: make it your own and collect what makes you happy.

It sounds simple enough but collecting what you want can be tricky sometimes. There’s a lot of noise out there. Card makers telling us what to chase. Others making predictions about where prices are going to go. Some products get crazy and we don’t want to miss out. There’s value in listening to other people. It helps build knowledge, perspective and an appreciation for the hobby.

But when it comes to your collection, you’re going to be happiest by keeping it your own.

Discovering Your Hobby Happy Place

Collecting what makes you happy is one of those nebulous goals. It’s different for everyone. To make it better you’re going to have to do a little more digging.

What do you like to collect the most? Is a particular player or team? Do you like building sets? Maybe it’s chasing every base set #17. There’s no wrong answer here.

It doesn’t have to be one thing about collecting that makes you happy, either. There might be multiple areas. I build sets but I also like autographs and cards that feature Jabba the Hutt.

This can also change over time. Ten years ago, building sets was a major part of my collecting life. That’s where most of my hobby energy went. Now, I’m feeling like I’m running out of space. Also, with prices and configurations now, busting boxes and packs doesn’t make sense to me. I’m spending more and ending up with a lot of extra I don’t really want, which is adding to that space concern. I am shifting my collection more towards other areas. That also doesn’t mean that I’m abandoning sets altogether but my happy hobby place is definitely evolving.

It’s perfectly fine if your tastes change, too.

Being Smart with Your Hobby Goals

The best goals are the ones that are concrete, specific and can actually be done. You’re going to be more successful with a goal like going to the gym five days a week versus one that’s simply “be healthier.”

When I was teaching, I often worked with students to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. It’s a formula that transfers over into lots of other professions and even life in general. Yes, some acronyms actually work.

First, your goal has to be specific. No fluffy “be healthy” or “travel more.” If you’re going to be successful, you need to know exactly what it is that you’re trying to do. Limit myself to one bag of chips per week instead of two. Go to Disneyland. Those are concrete goals that make sense.

Your personal goals should be measurable. If you’re a Bob Uecker collector, you could set a goal of “chasing Bob Uecker cards.” Adding a card to your eBay watch list would technically meet this goal. You tried because you chased. But are you happy? Probably not. A specific and measurable goal would be “add 25 new Bob Uecker cards to my collection” or “complete a career Topps run of Bob Uecker cards.”

Whatever your goal is, you should be able to achieve it. Would I like to add a T206 Honus Wagner this year? Sure. Is it realistic? Even if I come across the end of 15 rainbows, each with a pot of gold, probably not. Make sure your goal can be done. Time, your budget and availability are all things to consider here. If you’re on a tight budget and want a grail card, it’s going to take more planning to ensure you don’t overextend yourself or fail.

Is your goal relevant to your joy of collecting? Whatever you’re chasing this year, it should be all about you. If you really enjoy collecting a certain team or product but you set a goal to go after a prospect that you don’t care for because someone is saying they’re going to be good, that’s not about your collection. First, that player might not pan out. Then you’re left with something you didn’t like to begin with. Even if they do well, that hobby energy and budget went to something you probably don’t have a connection to.

Finally, make sure your collecting goal is time-bound. This is where the new year comes into play. Aiming to complete a project by December 31 is easy. If you finish early, you can always extend or change your goal. I could log onto Facebook tomorrow and find a cheap lot of five GPKs I need. Of course I’m going to grab them as that’s my goal. Am I going to put the set project aside and wait until next year to get five more? Probably not. I’ll adjust the goal to get five more. By putting a timeframe on your goal, you can plan better. There’s always an end in sight that it hopefully gets done by. If you’re saving up for a big card before the start of baseball season, you’re probably going to put a lot more of your hobby budget towards saving in the early part of the year.

It’s All About You

I’m happiest with my collection when it’s my own. I have stories on how I came across certain cards or the journey that some sets took me on.

I’ve also got boxes and boxes of cards that I got just because. Because they were there. Because I had the itch to bust an entire box instead of a couple of packs. Because I like a good deal whether it fits in with the rest of my collection or not. Because someone else told me this is what I should be collecting.

Listen to one person — you.

In the weeks, months, years and lifetime ahead, be selfish in your collecting goals. Because, ultimately, that’s who your collection is for. Start with what makes you happy and constantly set specific smart goals that will help you get there.

When it comes to collecting, this year is all about you and what brings you joy. Everything else is just noise.

When you click on links to various merchants on this site, like eBay, and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

The Beckett Online Price Guide

The largest and most complete database in the industry. Period. Join the hundreds of thousands of collectors who have benefited from the OPG.

Subscribe Now

The Beckett Marketplace

Over 129 million cards
from 70+ dealers

Shop Now

1 comment

Leave a reply

We use cookies to help personalize content, tailor and measure ads, and provide a safer experience. By navigating the site, you agree to the use of cookies to collect information. Read our Cookie Policy.
Accept & Close