Process is part of the product

The Process is PART of the Product

There is a constant battle between the process and the product in early retirement talk. Mr. T and I lean toward a calmer, more comfortable process leading to a delayed product of early retirement. Others choose to give up a lot more than we do in the process for a sooner product.

Balance is important. If you ruin your health, happiness, or relationships along the way, you’ll find yourself retired early and alone and sick. But you are the only one that can determine what that balance looks like for you.

It’s important to take another factor into consideration as well: Pride – The good kind. The kind where you roll up your sleeves, grab a cup of lemonade and just sit and stare thinking nothing but “I did that!” It’s a great feeling, right?

Related: What are you proud of?

This makes the equation more complicated. You see, we now have 3 P’s in play.

P+P=P   or    P/P=P    or even     to the power of is bound to equal P

Alright, so the equations don’t compute. So what am I talking about?

There’s a balance of process and pride. If you win a million dollars in the lottery (which you shouldn’t count on), you’ll probably be pretty proud you’re an overnight millionaire. You may even buy fancy lemonade to sit there and think: “That happened. I’m now a millionaire.” But how much did you work for it?

Satisfaction is often directly correlated with how much influence you have over the product. Take the research on work. The researchers concluded: “Labor leads to love only if that labor is successful.” If you are not directly involved in the output or you don’t finish something, you don’t value it as much.

Working hard isn’t a bad thing. 

Life is too short to kill yourself in the process on the way to the product. Maybe you’ll end up with sufficient pride in your accomplishments, but you’re also bound to have a few regrets.

The ideal balance is one where the process is hard. If the process is too easy, the pride factor goes down. But the ideal balance includes a process that isn’t TOO hard. You definitely don’t want to discount the opportunities you have today for future possibilities. If you put too much focus on the product, the regret factor rises.

How do we find this balance?

A budget review should be more than just looking at numbers. A budget review should involve determining the value you are getting from your money spent. As you look over August’s expenses, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Did the majority of my money go to things that are priorities for me?
  2. What did I add to my Fill-the-Bucket List this month?
  3. What steps did I take this month toward the product or end goal?
  4. What did I give up to make those steps?
  5. Am I proud of my money choices this month?
  6. Did I make progress on my life now and my future goals?
  7. What regrets do I have and how can I minimize them next month?

How does the sense of accomplishment, or pride, play into your plan?


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  1. I am so fortunate to love what I do. I have to remind myself of that constantly. I’m not just grinning and bearing. I fear for and feel for people who are absolutely miserable for any number of years while they pursue early retirement. Because it’s important to work for your goals, but no one is promised tomorrow.

    • MaggieBanks

      Agreed. And kids grow up fast (in our situation). We want to present now and proud of what we’re doing along the way. It’s so great you work doing what you love. I’m the same. I can’t say the same for Mr. T… 🙂

  2. Maggie, what a great concept. I love the thought of the Pride that comes from a well balanced Process. On my journey to FIRE, we’ve enjoyed nice vacations every year, my wife was able to be a stay at home mom, and we lived comfortably, but modestly. I may end up working a few years longer than I’d have had to under a more extreme approach, but we had a well balanced Process, and I’m Proud to be able to take hold of the Product by Age 55. Great Post!!

  3. We pushed hard to save and invest. But we also really tried to have great experiences as well (just did them very frugally.) I took a month long road trip with my best friend coast to coast. We moved to Europe. I traveled through 27 countries and all over the US. I took classes in Italy, Amsterdam, and Scotland. Sure we would have a higher net worth if we hadn’t done those things. We lived very modestly in other ways to even it out. And I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences for a bigger bank account.

    • MaggieBanks

      And you guys are just going nuts with living it up now and later! I’m loving it!

  4. I’m sure being more extreme may make our goal show up a little quicker, heck, if Mrs. SSC hadn’t left her job to teach we could ahve realistically hit our number next year. She probably could have even finagled a nice severance package in yet another round of layoffs that company is planning for the fall – yeah holiday layoffs… 🙁

    But, she took the paycut for a better schedule, and barring me getting laid off, it didn’t really change our 2018 date. We ahve other things in play that could bounce that back a year potentially, but again, it’s more of “Hey we ahve lives, we want to live them how we see fit, and every action we take isn’t driven by how it will affect our pseudo-randomly generated FFLC goal/date”.

    Which I think is precisely your point in this post. It’s not about the date, getting there the quickest or at all, it’s about how you live and the decisions you make along the way, while being mindful of how it may may not affect your goals, and whether you ultimately care how it does or doesn’t affect that goal. Or… I might have just totally missed the point of the article and am stuck in my own thoughts somehow. Highly possible…. 🙂 hahahaha

    • MaggieBanks

      No… you got it. And you guys are prime examples of this. Well done. I love your path!

  5. I’m impatient by nature but I also believe in delayed gratification. It can be frustrating sometimes but like you said, working hard for something and achieving it always gives you a sense of pride and makes you value your hardwork even more.

    The questions you listed are great reflection points. I will keep them in mind as I wrap up my month-end numbers. Thank you!

    • MaggieBanks

      Can’t wait to read your month-end numbers, J! Hope all has been well with you this winter as you look forward to summer!

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