Where Four Years Of Nonsense Got Me, Pt. 2: Re-evaluating Goals Should Be A Continuous Process

In observance of the 4th anniversary of The Shlabotnik Report, I’m doing a series of posts on the minor epiphanies I’ve had while writing this blog and interacting with all of you.

I share these thoughts in the hope that it might be helpful and/or interesting to you.


When I was a kid in the 1970’s, I wanted to collect every Topps baseball card there ever was.

For those of you who are under the age of 35, I feel I should point out that this was not a ludicrous goal.  Expensive?  Sure.  But not ludicrous.  At the time it meant fewer than 30 sets… Somewhere over 13,000 cards.  Easy peasy, right?

My goals changed over the years, but “Complete every Topps set” remained as my Prime Directive.  After all, building sets is what serious collectors do, right?  Sets are there to be completed, so I’m going to complete them.

Back a couple of years ago, when I started getting serious about organizing my collection, I looked to see how many sets I had which were within 100 cards of completion and I said “I really should finish that 1979 set.  And 1980.  And 1982 Topps.  And 1983 Fleer.  And 1986 Topps.  And 1988 Score…”

…And this set… And that set…

And I got depressed.

And I started to wonder whether I was a set collector after all.  Would a set collector leave so many incomplete sets just sitting there, remaining incomplete?

There now followed an extended period of navel-gazing  and toenail contemplation.

I thought about the times I most enjoyed collecting a set to completion, and I realized that those sets were ones I flat-out loved, and the small sense of accomplishment I got when I’d finished was outweighed by a larger sense of disappointment that I was finished.

Perhaps what I had always thought of as “working towards a complete set” was really “acquiring cards until there weren’t any more to acquire”.

Had I paused in my never-ending pursuit of cards to do a bit of self-examination… Had I looked at my large number of incomplete sets… Had I thought back on the times I’d completed a set like 2007 Topps and felt relief more than anything else…  I probably would’ve come to this conclusion sooner, and I could’ve spent my time and resources on objectives that would’ve been more enjoyable to me.

So remember, boys and girls, it may sound more like work than fun, but it’s always a good idea to take a step back, see where you’re at and make sure that you’re going the direction you want to be going.

I’ll be back with one more post tomorrow, and then I promise there’ll be cards after that.

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2 thoughts on “Where Four Years Of Nonsense Got Me, Pt. 2: Re-evaluating Goals Should Be A Continuous Process

  1. With the mass over-production of BB cards in the late 80’s and throughout the 90’s, I have NO desire to collect entire sets. Glad I focused on only those sets from the 60’s and 70’s. I had completed several 60’s and early 70’s sets while I was still a kid/pre-teen/teen collecting during the same time period. I stopped collecting in 1974 when I went off to college, but after college, I got the bug again in the early 90’s (after marriage and family began). Of course, FINDING those cards was next to impossible. Thank God for the internet! I’ve been a faithful eBay collector since getting my first email account in 1998 and have filled in my collection quite nicely since then, thank you very much.

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